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Benny Se Teo
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 non-profit 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 chefs will find most handy.