Born and raised in Singapore, Chef Eleanor Sim – or as she likes to be called, Elle – moved to Toronto in 2015. Her first surprise did not come from the amounts of maple syrup we eat, but rather from our accessibility to fresh and locally farmed produce. Talk about a culture shock when you live on an island and all your food is imported from foreign countries.
In her new home, Toronto, Elle decided to share her beloved Peranakan cuisine. After a long search for fresh spices and local farms, she is now proud to offer authentic Singapore flavours with high-quality ingredients, making the best of her gastronomy and childhood dishes available to the country who welcomed her.
Get to know her better through this fast and fun interview:
DO YOU HAVE A LUCKY CHARM IN THE KITCHEN?
Yes, I do! Well, he’s sometimes in the kitchen but my husband Greg is my lucky charm. Without his support and sacrifice, I would not have had the courage to make a mid-life career switch and pursue my lifelong passion of cooking for a living.
WHAT’S THE LAST THING YOU BURNED?
My hair. Don’t ask.
YOUR FAVOURITE SPICE?
Cinnamon, just for how versatile and classic it is.
It can be found anywhere across continents, from curries to sweet desserts.
WHAT MAKES YOU “KITCHEN ANGRY”?
When orders get sent back only to be served again the wrong way.
LATEST FLAVOUR COMBINATION YOU DISCOVERED?
I don’t remember, unfortunately.
Most of my time is spent trying to recreate classic Singaporean or familiar south-east Asian flavours.
WHAT’S YOUR MOST EXTRAVAGANT PURCHASE?
A restaurant! Haha.
FAVOURITE SONG IN THE KITCHEN?
Dinka – Sons of Maria Campfire 2017.
WHAT’S YOUR COMFORT FOOD?
Rice – it feels like home.
WHAT’S YOUR MOST ESSENTIAL TOOL?
Hands-down the food processor.
We blend so many spices and aromatics, I cannot imagine doing it in an old school mortar and pestle.
IF YOU COULD CHANGE ANYTHING IN THE FOOD INDUSTRY, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
I’m new to the industry so I am still trying to experience and learn.
FAVOURITE SMELL IN THE KITCHEN?
It has to be when we’re caramelizing the spice paste! When we add the spices, aromatics, belacan, stir it and it’s bubbling and smelling so good… I’m drooling now!
WHAT’S YOUR BAD HABIT?
Cleaning up after people.
WHAT DO YOU ADMIRE IN OTHER CHEFS?
Formal training. You can always use formal training in any discipline!
WHAT OR WHO IS YOUR GREATEST INSPIRATION?
My mother. She is an awesome cook and would have been a great big famous chef if she had a chance to pursue it. She’s already famous among the people who tried her food!
THE DISH YOU ARE THE PROUDEST OF?
Laksa! It’s from Singapore and part of my Peranakan culture – served in a bowl.
WHAT’S YOUR END OF THE WORLD MENU?
Tok Panjang or Peranakan feast made by mum.
YOUR FAVOURITE ADVICE OR QUOTE?
Be the best version of yourself.