Daddy's little chef

Daddy's little chef

In the new movie Chef, Jon Favreau's character Chef Carl is seen passing down his love for food to his son Percy (Emjay Anthony) on a cross-country road trip in a refurbished food truck.

And that's what Ben Yeo is attempting to do too.

The local MediaCorp actor-host enjoys spending time with his elder son Javier, five, in the kitchen, and is delighted the boy shares his love for food.

Yeo, 36, strongly believes that food is the glue to a strong family bond, as kids can be involved in the entire process, from planning and shopping for groceries to plating of meals.

"Javier really enjoys food. He will eat anything you give him," Yeo told M, adding that he just needs to make the food "look cuter" to get Javier to try something new.

However, Yeo's younger son Jarius, two, is fussy. Yeo said: "I think he has a more sensitive palate. He doesn't like cold stuff, such as ice-cream or fizzy drinks."

Javier, on the other hand, not only likes eating, he enjoys learning how to prepare the food.

"Javier helps out when I cook, particularly when I'm making pasta or pizza," said the father of two, adding that while Javier is too young to handle a knife, the little one makes a good sous chef.

The boy also loves watching cooking shows with daddy. Yeo said, laughing: "He always has a lot of questions!"

Love for cooking

Yeo's own love of food started at a young age.

The culinary arts graduate from the Singapore Hotel and Tourism Education Centre said he was inspired by popular Hong Kong-Canadian chef Martin Yan.

While Yeo didn't fulfil his childhood ambition of being a chef, he is now the co-owner of three eateries: two Asian pasta stalls called Play Kitchen and the latest, full-fledged restaurant Tenderfresh Classic, where we met Yeo and his boys, who were busy tucking into a pasta dish.

He now hopes to achieve another dream - a cooking show he can call his own.

Yeo has hosted several culinary variety shows and also a programme titled Bentolicious on Toggle, MediaCorp's interactive mobile and web service, where he teaches viewers how to make their own bento sets.

His dream

But what Yeo wants to do is to have his own food truck or van and embark on a culinary trip with his restaurant partner, Mr Kelvin Chua, across Singapore and "perhaps all the way to Malaysia, Thailand and even Laos".

Yeo said: "That would be the ideal programme. We can drive to various farms and then cook at that location."

He loves the idea of food trucks, but unlike in the US, where they are popular - as depicted in Chef, which is showing here now - in Singapore, Yeo feels the concept would be "hard to sustain".

According to Yeo, not only will it be tough to get a food licence, the cost will also be high.

He also listed our unpredictable weather - "Singapore is either too hot or too rainy" - as a concern for anyone operating a food truck.

"I don't think Singaporeans would want to queue for food in the sun or stand around to eat outside."

So for now, he is content with cooking for his wife and kids whenever his hectic work schedule lets him.

Yeo, who will star in upcoming Channel 8 drama In The Name Of Love, is also busy with his second cookbook.

His first, Cooking For Kids, was released last year and is a collection of easy recipes that busy parents can whip up for their babies and toddlers.

"My next book will show parents how to make bento sets for their children," said Yeo, who hopes to have the book published by the end of the year.

This article was first published on June 11, 2014.
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