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Top Singaporean Chef Visits the Bay

Top Singaporean Chef Visits the Bay

EIT-trained chef Jenna White is perfecting her patisserie skills as an executive chef at one of Singapore’s most elegant and highly rated restaurants.

Jenna creates deserts for guests at Flutes, a fine dining restaurant located in the imposing National Museum of Singapore in Stamford Road.

Before moving to Singapore four years ago, she worked as a savoury chef for Peter Gordon in his acclaimed London restaurant The Providores, preparing occasional starters as well as mains.

“Six or seven of my dishes featured on Peter’s menu,” she says, “and I hold that close to my heart. He’s a kiwi guy doing so well.”

But while she misses working on savoury dishes, she finds patisserie work “pretty, colourful and bright – I can be more artistic I think with dessert.”

Jenna always wanted to be a chef and as a Taradale High School student her first step towards that was a STAR programme at EIT. From there, she progressed to learning bar and restaurant skills and then to chef training. Graduating with distinction, she became a ‘poster girl’ for the institute, with her image appearing on EIT vehicles.

Having worked at a number of local eateries, including Vidal’s and Te Awa, she says Hawke’s Bay – with its many wineries and new and upcoming restaurants – is a very good stepping stone for fledgling chefs.

“But I recommend travelling for sure,” she told EIT hospitality students on a recent trip back home.

“Hawke’s Bay is a very small place in the cooking world especially compared to Europe.”

Her own next step will be tutoring patisserie classes in Singapore.

“I’ll be teaching Asians how to cook macarons,” she says of the meringue-based confections made famous by French chefs.

That will be a further challenge for Jenna, who works up to 12 hours a day six days a week. But she struggles to achieve a work/life balance, she is savouring the opportunities open to her in Singapore, and sees the city-state as her base for the next 10 or so years.

“I am trying to build a name for myself there and am starting to get recognised,” she says.

Jenna’s advice to the students was to pursue their passion, to be confident in using industry contacts and to be ready to put in the hard hours.

“Asia is a tough market to break into. It’s very male driven and very money orientated,” she says of the hospitality industry. “They’re not necessarily for the passion.”

On the upside, she has free range to do what she wants in creating sweet dishes, and enjoys challenging herself with ingredients sourced from other countries.


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