It was indeed a privilege to hear from Mr. Peter Knipp himself on his gourmet journey!! We had a very long detailed interview coverage on what he has to share with us which you will possibly gain some insights from him too.
Meanwhile, for those who have yet to vote for the upcoming World Gourmet Excellence Awards 2017 do register yourself here: http://www.wgsawards.com
World Gourmet Summit Opening Ceremony & Awards 2015
My Company’s Culture, My Management Style & My Best Practices
We are a small company with about 25 employees. In this modern age, we are still very driven by creating “excellence emotions”. What keeps us alive in this ever-changing landscape is to be adaptable through constant evolution. In order for anyone to stay ahead of their competitors, they can’t possibly stay still and neither can they maintain their leadership position this way.
My Food’s Philosophy
My philosophy in food has changed over the years. Now it is all about the quality at all levels. It doesn’t have to be the caviar or the lobster or the best of best all the time in terms of price. It is the simple things that matter and is done extremely well. People always laugh about MacDonald’s but very rarely do the majority get a French fries that come in a consistent level of quality in a restaurant.
My Impression on Food
I have a higher impression of those who ‘create excellence’ using simple ingredients than those who have been overly creative. To me, treating food with respect is really important. It starts from preparation stage all the way to the cooking process without jeopardizing the product. There is too much fusion or confusion out there where very often chefs do not know really knows how to maximize products.
Simplicity is the Key
A very simple salad can be an illustration of my philosophy. It needs to be treated with respect; the vegetables, the fruits need to be washed, dried before we apply the dressing. Mix it well, ensures it is cold and crispy. Serve it in the best perfect state and the simple salad can turn into something that is very joyful.
Our Local Food Context
When we talk about local food, the result of its big difference is based on questions such as ‘Is the local food done from the scratch or is it done with pre-mixed ingredients?’ and ‘Are the people doing it for the passion or they just want to earn a living?’ It doesn’t matter if it is a 5 cent or a 10 cent or even 500 dollars type of ingredient. Whoever eats the food will be joyful if we respect the ingredients by making sure it is prepared in a perfect way – that is my philosophy.
Chef Malcolm Lee, CandleNut
My Love, My Pillar of Support
My wife and I have been married for almost 35 years. We met in Indonesia. She was in a hotel’s coffee shop having lunch and I was sitting over at another side. We were engaged after 3 months and subsequently another 5 months we were married. She is the backbone in our relationship. She has always been supportive in all quests; from raising the family to always being there when I was working at Raffles Hotel with crazy hours which was one of the crazy things I did and even when I started this company without knowing my initial direction. Therefore, she has been a major influence and backbone in my quest to achieve what I set out to achieve. She is my partner in business; she is my partner in life. What else can I ask for?
My Feel in Reaching This Milestone of 20 Years
We are very proud. We never expected it to last this long and still be relevant, successful and admired. I don’t think anyone would have imagined that we are actually still expanding after 20 years and still getting very decent with a respectable result. It is very heartwarming to know there are many people supporting us. The amount of enquiries that we have is incredible. But we know that this cannot be taken for granted.
Peter Knipp at World Gourmet Jam Session 2016
As mentioned earlier, we cannot stay still at any end level regardless of what we do; whether it is walking on the street, running a marathon or trying to pick up a girlfriend. Once we do, somebody will overtake us. If they are faster than us, we have already lost it. We have to be very clear that in today’s life, the world is fast changing and fast moving. Once we entered the race, we got to run with it and not just jump on and off it. It is all by choice to choose to attend other on-going activities as this is a free world. For us, it is about relevance and it is about adding value to the consumer and to the gastronomes. If we can’t add any volume, we might as well close shop.
Overcoming My Challenges
Everything we do has a challenge and this includes even our life, walking on the street and being with a partner for many years. The ability to deal with challenges is the main issue rather than the challenge by itself. A question to ask ourselves ‘Are we ready to face the challenge head on or are we going to a corner, shy away and run away from it?’
Failure is not a failure in itself but the inability to react to any failure or mishaps. We do the best we can as human beings. We try to live by a principle of ‘we shall receive and we shall give back’. Everyday something is happening; everyday whether a staff is resigning. We have an outdoor event even when it rains. This is life; it is part and parcel of living. And sometimes when I see people who are afraid to face challenges, I think they have real issues.
We Must Know Our Own Limitations
Sometimes when I face a challenge that I think I personally cannot overcome; I will ask somebody to help it. Or I just have to walk away from it. It just doesn’t work that way. Life is a challenge. From the day we are born, we get beaten on our backside to take our first breath until the day in our bed we take our last breathe so to speak.
People who look for a flawless life, I think they must be very busy searching as it doesn’t exist. Someone asked me the other day, ‘Why am I such a perfectionist?’I replied ‘I am not a perfectionist; I look for perfection in everything I do, but I know perfection in itself doesn’t really exist. But it shall not stop me trying to look for it. I am an imperfect being, I have certain habits that others frown upon, and I have a personality that somebody frowns upon. But that doesn’t stop me from pursuing whatever is the best I can do.’
Chef Sebastien Lefort, At-Sunrice GlobalChef Academy
Screw Up, Own Up, Make Up.
I have gained learning experiences from my many successes which some people call it failures. To me, a failure is not, but a learning process which we must be able to learn from it.
When we talk about management staffs, I encourage people to do things. And if they make mistakes, that happens. The problem that comes is when they do the same mistake 2-3-4 times in a row. That means they haven’t learned and there is a learning inefficiency or deficiency. This is all about learning, growing up, screwing up, making up and making mistakes.
is that people owe up. What I am trying to instill to my team, my family and those around me is the culture of owning their own mistakes. Sometimes people will accept if we look straight at the person’s face and say ‘Sorry, I made a mistake’. More often or not actually, and sometimes if they will not then we just have to move on. There is no point crying over spilled milk. We try so hard to fix it, we can’t always fix everything. But we are dammed if we don’t try it. If we sideline it or point fingers, I think that’s all wrong. Own up, make mistake, so be it. We lose this sponger, we lose a partner, and we can’t fix it what are we going to do? For the rest of our lives, cry over it? We only have one life, no spare parts, we got to live it and give the best we can, in all our ends or worst. We can’t succeed in everything – Impossible! Even the most successful people, don’t succeed in everything. They may have figured the way out the way how to do better how to learn fast.
Chef Sam Aisbett, Whitegrass
My Sharing with the Upcoming Young Local Chefs
For the young chefs, I think the biggest worry I have is the young generation. They get so wrapped up in Singapore’s success that more often than not they assume because they are born here; it is their ‘outright birth’s right’ which is something that I totally don’t agree with.
To the young people, I say, ‘If you born here you are very fortunate. But you got to think your grandparents who founded this country and your parents who have built this country. Where are you taking this country?’
The late Mr. Lee Kuan Yew once said that very politely, ‘No matter what you do, there will always grumble.’ I guess it is part of the DNA, I grumble a lot too! What is important is to recognize that it is not an entitlement even if you are born in the country but instead a massive responsibility because everyone will look at the young generation and say where are you going to go next?
And I think what transcends not only the chef profession but any profession. We should learn and absorb as much information as possible yet staying humble. People get caught in a rat race by saying ‘Oh my god, the price has gone up. I yet to have earned so much… I have to do better than this… I have to raise my position.’ We have young chefs that come out of the school and they think they are entitled to a senior position immediately. That is nonsense! I like to always compare this with a quote ‘Just because we have a driving license and good marks, it does not make us a good driver.’ It gives us an entitlement to drive, but we really only learn when we drive on a day to day basis and how do we do it? We start slow and steady.
My advice to the young generation is very simple. It is not how much we earn and what position we have. It is how we plan our future. We have to plan our future in such a position when we are young, strong and healthy; it is not the position, it’s not the money, it’s the learning that helps.
Chef Christopher Millar, Stellar 1-Altitude & Chef Reto Mathis, Mathis Food Affair
When I was young, I always refuse the promotion until I thought I was ready. Sometimes I am, sometimes I was not. And I was probably maybe a bit of a slow starter but then I ended up having one of the best jobs in the world. I have been my previous life as a chef. In the final stage, there were a lot of people who admire what I have accomplished. But to me, that was an achievement of that life and I was too young to do the same for the next 10-20 years. That was not my DNA. My DNA was to create something new and fresh. Now that I have 20 years in this company, I would probably look at something new yet again.
Chef Andre Chiang, Restaurant Andre
And for the young people, it is important. It is not a rush to be successful. Success is a result of the path of the learning and of how we implement all that. Very rarely, will we not get promoted or not the position if we are really that good. And if there are bosses that don’t recognize, we move on. We look for another job until somebody tells us we have what it takes. But don’t try for a few hundred bucks to jump across the road or to get a promotion. It is ridiculous! We got to learn our craft; we got to have that skill no matter what job that is. That is my belief, that’s my advice. Take it or leave it. But in today’s world, too many people rush too fast. They are so over confident of themselves. As what others say, the faster we rise the harder we fall.
World Gourmet Summit (WGS) 2.0 & the Company
Next WGS, we have some new members in the team. WGS 2.0 which starts at 2017 will go through a major transformation. I can’t tell exactly what it is. We now celebrate the 20thAnniversary.
For the company, our consultancy business is doing very well and it is growing. The publishing segment of our business is going through a rejuvenation process. The entire publishing industry is going through hard times. But while we have dropped some revenue there in terms of percentage, it is a lot lesser than many other companies. There is something which we must be doing right. But that doesn’t stop us from rejuvenating it.
Talents & Work in General
We are always looking for new talents who come in for at least for 2-3years, not just to tell others ‘Oh I work for SPH or WGS’ and then they leave. They need to do 2 – 3 years in a place that value-adds them. And the most important thing is if they cannot give values, don’t stay. They must create values for everybody that is working in there. That is then the product we are going outwards. It’s hard, it’s tough and it is not easy. But then it is such if anyone doesn’t like fire, don’t go into the kitchen. Not everybody is cut out for this kind of work.
We have to have the passion, the commitment and the dedication. We must totally love what we are doing especially in chef’s profession. Why would anybody work for stupid hours, over the weekends when everybody else is off; probably have a lot less money? I have seen some very bright people from lawyers to teachers who did it all because of their parents or friends. But ultimately it wasn’t what they really cut out to do and they become as a successful chefs, some restaurants tariffs or F&B professional or whatever that is. We must look for the thing that we really love doing and we have to pursuit it. Then when we fail, we pick ourselves up and we keep walking until we hit the wall, and then maybe we have to change direction.