About the Book
Chef Benny Se Teo is the creative force behind a highly successful chain of restaurants, known not just for its hearty, no-nonsense good food, but also for its continuing efforts to help exoffenders and youths at risk.
Himself an ex-offender, Chef Benny’s inspirational life story is now the backdrop of his first cookbook, Honest Good Food, where he brings together a collection of comfort food recipes, inspired by his childhood memories and personal experiences, and most notably his internship at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen in London.
With punchy quotes, personal anecdotes and cooking tips, Honest Good Food provides an insight into what drives this plain-speaking chef, his culinary secrets, and what some of his favourite dishes are. As Chef Benny says, “cooking, like life, becomes better through trial and error. If the experiment fails, just try again!”
“Benny has a story, and it’s peppered into his recipes which makes it not just delectable, but meaningfully moreish. This book is about what flavoured his journey.”
Founder of Makansutra
“Benny Se Teo has delivered the dream of many chefs — his own restaurants and a successful business. I could see this vision in his eyes from the minute we met over a pasta boiler in Fifteen, London. I have followed Benny’s progress after he returned to Singapore. His passion and focus are an inspiration to all. I will especially cherish my visit to Singapore where I met up with Benny and visited the food market and culinary shops.”
Head Chef of Glasshouse & Stables The Grove Hotel & Spa, Hertfordshire, UK
About the Author
Chef Benny is well known in the Singapore food scene as a chef, restaurateur and social entrepreneur. Featured in local and international media such as the Straits Times, BBC and CNN, Benny has also spoken at universities and conferences, including the globally
renowned TEDx Talks.
Benny’s story is an inspiring tale of humanity, hope and redemption. A high-school dropout, former drug user and ex-convict, Benny has known failure and condemnation. For years, drug addiction controlled Benny’s life, but his mother’s love remained a constant through those dark days. The turning point came in 1992, when Benny’s brush with duodenum cancer delivered a wakeup call, and led him to find absolution in Christianity.
This cookbook is a celebration of the love and fellowship that Benny has experienced in his journey of self-discovery. Growing up, Benny had always been curious about cooking. He knew he had a knack for recreating dishes, but it was not until he served as a tea boy to the prison superintendent that he discovered his creative gift.
With the encouragement of friends and strangers, Benny eventually came to embrace his culinary talent. In 2005, he took a leap of faith to start his first restaurant, Goshen. The following year, Benny secured a place in the apprenticeship programme at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen, a nonprofit restaurant in London. Goshen folded shortly after his return to Singapore, but Benny remained undeterred, and went on to co-found Eighteen Chefs—a successful restaurant chain and social enterprise that helps ex-offenders and youths at risk.
Ten years on, Benny now shares his story through this collection of well-loved recipes. Inspired by his Sei Yap (a Cantonese dialect group) and Singaporean heritage, his childhood and many cherished memories, the dishes are packed with nostalgia and punchy flavours. Alongside the recipes, Benny candidly shares practical tips that home cooks will find most handy.
When Benny is not busy cooking up new projects or travelling with his wife, Mei, he can be found chatting with friends over a hot cup of bullet kopi (black coffee with butter). Do say hello when you see him. Chef Benny may not be smiling, but don’t worry, that’s simply his default expression.