In this week’s edition, TANGS is very proud to have Shermay Lee, a talented author, chef, culinary instructor and now owner of her own range of Singapore heritage products, Shermay’s Singapore Fine Food.
Who are you, Shermay Lee?
I'm a Food Entrepreneur who has been in the F&B industry for 12 years. I started out as a cookbook author, relaunching my Peranakan grandmother's cookbook, ‘The New Mrs Lee's Cookbook, Vol 1 & 2’. I then owned, operated and taught at my cooking school, with a gourmet shop, Shermay's Cooking School, for more than 11 years. I closed that in 2015 to focus on Food Consulting (for Singapore Airlines SG50 Menu, Fullerton Bay Hotel & Culina). I now own and run a range of Singapore heritage products, Shermay's Singapore Fine Food. I want to preserve and retain traditional and home cook flavors in a convenient jar, because the reality is that most people find cooking time – consuming or feel that they don’t have the skill and know-how. Ii created a range that taste like homemade.
Did you have a food mentor or inspiration growing up?
Yes, I would very much say that it was my maternal Peranakan grandmother during my formative years, she got me used to being in the kitchen at an early age. Then my aunt, who is now 85 years old, taught me the precise and finer details of Peranakan cuisine. I treasure and value my time in the kitchen with them, not only because of the tips and secrets I learnt, but also because of the quality time I spent with them.
What’s your favourite cuisine and why?
Peranakan. It is the food of my heritage, of Singapore's heritage, and it is increasingly a dying art because many recipes are too complex and laborious.
What is the must have ingredient in your kitchen?
I'm being serious when I say it is my own Cilicuka. It goes with everything and reminds me of my beloved grandma, as it’s based on her recipe from 40 years ago.
What’s your favourite dish & why?
Right now, Cilicuka-Lime Mayo is my new favourite dipping sauce for fries, and everything else. I've posted the recipes here for free: http://www.shermay.com/project/cilicuka-lime-mayo. I also found it’s a great short-cut way to make Singapore Chilli Crab dip, a recipe I’ve shared here: http://www.shermay.com/project/singapore-chilli-crab-dip
More of my recipes can be found here: http://www.shermay.com/recipes
Besides what you currently do, is there something you always wanted to do or be a part of?
I would love to lecture and share my experiences as a Food Entrepreneur - there have been ups and downs during my time in the industry. It would be good to share this with the younger generation who aspire to do the same.
How do you see Singapore’s food culture changing in the future?
I think automation is inevitable, as robots can do what we do better, faster and cheaper. But will there still be room for originality and creativity? Before self-learning AI (Artificial Intelligence) develops to the point where it can create new recipes, I hope I will have retired by then!
What social/charitable causes are you passionate about?
Singapore! I’m passionate about its future! My friends and I feel strongly about putting out products that are proudly Made-in-Singapore which represent our design sensibility, production capability, embodies our culture and preserves our heritage.
What are your thoughts and plans for 2016?
To focus on Shermay's Singapore's Fine Food! We're a really tiny company of two staff and myself. My dream is to make a product that is good for the customer (good quality, good-for-you and convenient), good for my company (sustainable, profitable, make products we believe in and are proud to sell), and good for Singapore (represents quality, integrity, design and manufacturing capability, and preserves Singapore heritage).
Shermay's products can be found at TANGS at Tang Plaza, B1