Let Them Bloom

Nurturing young culinary talent is one of the ways that Belgium-born turned Singaporean Emmanuel Stroobant gives back to the community.

Emmanuel Stroobant, Saint Pierre’s ChefOwner, has been living in Singapore for over 20 years. As a Singapore citizen since 2014, it was only natural for him to give back to a country that has afforded him many wonderful opportunities. 

“Singapore is where I started Saint Pierre with my wife and Co-owner Edina back in 2000. It’s where we’re raising two daughters and where I call home. It is a personal goal of mine to promote Singapore’s excellence in the culinary arts to a global audience. One of the ways to do that is by mentoring local talent and passing down knowledge from one generation to the next,” shares Chef Emmanuel. 

Six years ago, he established the Singapore Delegation of Disciples Escoffier International (DEI) Association – a global network of over 25,000 members which includes chefs and prominent food industry figures – and served as its President. The goal was simple: to nurture a new generation of future-ready Singapore chefs.

Together with other delegation members such as Honorary President Chef Edmund Toh (President of the Singapore Chefs Association) and Chef Laurent Brouard of Bistro du Vin, they organised the Young Talents Escoffier Competition Singapore 2017, where a group of young chefs under the age of 25 with not more than five years of restaurant or hotel experience faced off. The winner was Koh Han Jie, Chef de Partie at Les Amis. To raise funds, the association then held Singapore’s first Disciples Escoffier Epicurean Dinner featuring dishes from Han Jie as well as Michelin-Starred chefs like Chef Emmanuel, Chef Michael Michaelidis of Joël Robuchon, and Chef Kirk Westaway of JAAN. Part of the proceeds went into a fund for less privileged culinary students. 

With the guidance from the chefs, Han Jie proved he could stand head and shoulders above the competition. He went on to compete in and win the Disciples Escoffier Young Talent Trophy Competition organised by DEI Asia in Hong Kong. Koh then represented Asia at the world finals in Zurich in March 2018, where he again came out tops. 

At this year’s FHA Food & Beverage event, Chef Emmanuel served as a judge for Young Talents Escoffier Presidents Team Bonding Challenge and shared his knowledge and experience at a masterclass presentation. 

Chef Emmanuel firmly believes that the future lies in the hands of the young. He has given many motivational talks over the years at educational institutions such as Sembawang Primary School, Nanyang Polytechnic and Culinary Institute of America (CIA) Singapore. 

This past July, Chef Emmanuel hosted over 30 ITE Higher Nitec Culinary Arts students at Saint Pierre. Aside from a motivational talk, he also gave them a kitchen tour, so the students got a sneak peek into the daily working life at a Michelin-Starred kitchen. He then visited ITE to conduct a masterclass the next day and even went as far as to teach the students how to create the Amela Tomato, a Saint Pierre signature. The two-day session was part of an advanced cooking technique module to expose students to fine dining trends and techniques as they undertake their one-year course. 

This October, Chef Emmanuel will be mentoring students from the ITE Higher Nitec Culinary Arts programme for a six-month internship at Two Michelin-Starred Saint Pierre. 

Despite his hectic schedule, Chef Emmanuel remains committed to training and mentoring the young. “My evolution as a chef, and that of Saint Pierre as a restaurant, is made better by my team. I enjoy the creative process of sharing my knowledge to my team and to the industry. It’s the least I can do to contribute to Singapore’s culinary excellence.”