By SGN | 4 Apr 2022
Nicholas is an experienced Chef who has worked at many Michelin-starred restaurants in Singapore and the US. After graduating from Le Cordon Bleu London, he has worked with Chef Emmanuel Stroobant of Saint Pierre (Singapore), Chef Jason Atherton of The Clocktower (NYC), and Chef Daniel Boulud of The Dinex Group – Chef Daniel Boulud (Singapore, NYC, Washington, DC). Today, he lives in Virginia with his wife and three kids, and works as a private chef for families.
Tell us a bit about yourself – what brought you to the U.S.?
Growing up I always liked cooking at home with my house helper and at 14 decided that I wanted to pursue a career in cooking. I started my career in Singapore with Chef Emmanuel Stroobant at St Pierre and Brussels Sprouts, before leaving for London to start cooking school at Le Cordon Bleu London. After completing the course, I came back to Singapore and Chef Emmanuel offered me my job back. I took it and after a year, I jumped at the opportunity to work on the opening team for Daniel Boulud at DB Bistro, which was part of the opening of Marina Bay Sands. I worked my way up from a cook to an Executive Sous Chef (the 2nd in command of the kitchen). On one trip that Chef Daniel made to Singapore, I told him that I was going to get married and move to the US, he then invited me to work in New York.
After getting married, my wife and I moved to NYC and lived out in Queens, while I worked at Café Boulud on the Upper East Side. I left the Boulud group a few years after to join The Clocktower, a British restaurant by Jason Atherton.
One day I received a call from Chef Boulud’s corporate chef and was offered to take on the role as chef for DBGB in the Lower East Side. I was eventually offered to relocate and lead the operations at DBGB Washington DC.
When COVID happened and the whole world shut down, I was unemployed for a year. Unexpectedly, I received a call from a headhunter looking for a private chef in the DC area, for a family who worked in the previous administration. They have since left DC and now I work for another family as their private chef.
What are some things you wished people knew about chefs?
I would like to highlight a big misconception of a chef’s wife is that they get to eat gourmet food when their chef husband is home. The answer is nope, we are never home. We work long hours, holidays are burnt and even on an off day (if there is) is spent on the phone solving problems and putting out fires.
What do you do as a private chef?
I shop for my client at the supermarket, stock their fridge with fruits, milk, snacks, etc. I make and serve their lunch and while taking an afternoon break, I meal plan for the next day. I am also about to be a certified nutritional coach, so I calculate caloric intake of my clients and make sure that we are hitting the targeted caloric amounts. I relay this data back to their wellness team so we can make appropriate changes.
What made you decide to start plus65food?
I was inspired while working on Beef Rendang for a catered Singaporean dinner requested by a friend. I felt that I could prepare larger portions of the dish, and sell it to more friends who previously requested for such meal kits. After testing the recipe a few times, I came up with Nic’s Sambal and a Beef Rendang Kit, which makes it easy to recreate the dish at home. Sneak peek: I have a few more rempah’s for Laksa and Curry Chicken coming soon!
How do you stay connected to Singapore?
My parents are still in Singapore so I get articles sent to our family’s whatsapp chat. Also Every morning I skim news articles from Straits Times. I spend some time throughout the day looking though social media outlets from friends and family back in Singapore.