CHEF FOR HIRE airs on Mediacorp 5 Weds at 9 pm from 21 Jan 2009. Featuring Ryan Hong, it has the honour of being the first primetime cooking show on Channel 5 in years. The channel has run successful food series including our Table for 3; Food Chain and Slurp! but this is a bona-fide show about how to make food.
But who exactly is Ryan, and how did we find him? This is a brief “official” bio for those of you curious to know more on the man:
Ryan Hong spent most of his years abroad, from a UK boarding school to a Master’s degree in Engineering Hydrology from London’s prestigious Imperial College. Despite this formal education and a career in his family’s business, he has always enjoyed cooking. After returning from San Francisco in 2007, he was ready for a new start. Little did he know where his passion soon would lead him.
How it happened was either a stroke of genius or just plain luck – as Ryan was asked to cook for a surprise dinner for a close friend. This was, in fact, his first “gig.” From that dinner, spawned 3 more dinners, and from those, spawned many others. He was invited to be a guest chef at a charity dinner for 400. The rest is history, and Ryan’s hobby has now become his profession. He can now be found hunting down the best ingredients and creating new menus for his special dinners which span up to several courses.
His TV debut happened by chance. At a dinner, the sister of a TV producer exclaimed; “You’re so funny, you should be on television!” Again, fate intervened, and Ryan found himself cooking and talking about food in front of a camera – an extension of what he normally does anyway.
Ryan may be all laughs, but is dead serious about his food, his wine and his cutlery. Describing his cooking as “a form of modern European,” the range of food he appreciates is in turn, extremely diverse. One will often see this self-confessed Chinaman at off-the-beaten-track local joints, frequented by Singaporeans, tucking into a bowl of noodles. He says, “even though my style of food is Western, you can learn from all cultures!”
Inspiration for Ryan comes from everywhere. His ever expanding menu is derived from his many experiences in different countries. Parts of his cuisine are derived from very early childhood memories from England. And he loves wandering around markets smelling and checking out ingredients.
At the present moment, Ryan is a true Bespoke Chef for Hire. Besides organising private dining events for clients, he is working on his restaurant consultancy (coming soon!); food writing and reviews; and now, media work. Torn between his ambition of running his own restaurant someday with the flexibility his present profession offers him, Ryan admits: “It might be a matter of time, but right now, I’m real happy!”
He says: “So, I’m now a private chef. The thing is, I’ve never worked so hard for so little money! But I’ve also never been more proud of what I have created! It’s a barrel of laughs.”