Foodie Confidential: Teenage passion

Foodie Confidential: Teenage passion

Spanish restaurant Kaixo's chef-owner Issachar Lee has always been fond of cooking as a teenager, but only made the leap into the culinary world after eight years in the semi-conductor industry.

The 38-year-old bachelor says: "I wanted a break from work and decided to pursue something I've always loved. As a teenager, besides helping in the kitchen, I would flip through food magazines to read about cooking and learn recipes."

The business graduate from Nanyang Technological University enrolled in Le Cordon Bleu culinary institute in Bangkok and, as part of his course, he spent six months each in the Thai capital and Paris.

Before opening Kaixo with a few partners 10 months ago, he worked at Guy Savoy in Marina Bay Sands, and also worked for three months at the three-Michelin-starred Martin Berasategui restaurant in Spain.

The chef is the oldest of three sons. His father, now retired, was a grocery wholesaler, while his mother is a housewife.

While much of his training is in French cuisine, Lee's restaurant features cuisine from Basque country in northern Spain.

He says: "The Basque region spans the border between France and Spain and I feel that the flavours and ingredients are very interesting.

"Also, after coming back from Spain, I realised that there were tapas outlets everywhere and decided to give it a try.

"The hours are tough and the pay is low, but the satisfaction is unbeatable."

What are your childhood memories of food?

I come from a traditional Teochew family, and I remember helping my grandmother and aunt to prepare dishes such as steamed fish and braised duck.

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