With over 30 years of experience in the culinary scene, Chef WILLIAM LUM has accumulated an amazing track record, from winning multiple cooking competitions to coaching up-and-coming kitchen protégés. Not one to rest on his laurels, the Weber Grill Academy Chef in Singapore now heads the Grill Academy on Joo Chiat Road, where he continues to pass down his invaluable skills and knowledge through cooking classes. We get behind the grill with the barbecue expert!
Tell us about a memorable experience from your time working as a chef.
When I was in Paris for culinary training, the restaurant I worked at didn’t offer a fixed menu. Instead, the Chef de Cuisine would bring us to the Rungis (a wholesale market) every Monday and Thursday, early in the morning at 3.30am, to get fresh produce. At the market, he would share with us his knowledge of each item and explain the best ways to prepare it. We would arrive back at the restaurant around 8.30am to 9am. Then, it was time to unload and reorganise the food into different categories. The Chef would then proceed to write up the menu to be served over the next three days.
I remember one time we bought a big basket of live eels, and on the way back to the restaurant in the truck, one of them managed to escape from the basket – and I had to catch it! When it started crawling on my leg, I screamed; later, everyone made fun of me about it!
That must almost seem like a different life! What about your current job at Weber Grill; what does it involve?
As a Weber Grill Academy Chef, I’m firstly a teacher. I lead the hands-on grill classes and help people understand what makes a Weber Grill so unique. I also try to share my knowledge from my personal experiences, such as how to select and purchase the right cut and type of beef from butchers.
It’s important to value life-long learning when it comes to exploring all things our Weber grills and accessories can do. I constantly study new recipes, test out products, and try new feature enhancements. I’m committed to enhancing the lives of our loyal consumers through our products.
I’m also a Brand Experience Ambassador. We want the Grill Academy Experience to be the ultimate brand experience. A course at the Grill Academy is not just about one single event; it’s about gaining lots of inspiration and knowledge, so the experience continues even after you head home to your own barbecue. A grill course is of course about grilling, but most importantly it’s about having fun while doing it!
Additionally, I cover the operations aspect at the Grill Academy, from facility management and food safety compliance, to calendar and budget planning.
How does a typical day unfold for you?
I start at 8am whenever there’s a morning meeting. On other days, I leave home at 12pm and have lunch along the way. I then work on marketing, before reaching the Grill Academy by 3.30pm. There, I’ll clean, unpack, and portion out the food for the upcoming class. I prepare all the seasonings, sauces and utensils needed for each participant. Everything needs to be completed by 5.30pm. On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, classes run from 6pm to 9pm. On Thursdays, they run from 7pm to 10pm. When the class has ended and clean-up is done, dinner is normally at the nearby food centre.
As I am still new to Weber, on days when there are no classes, I’ll practice newer dishes on the grill. Sometimes I invite our team members to taste and share ideas for new courses.
What do you love most about your job at Weber Grill?
During the cooking classes, most of the participants arrive with plenty of doubt and uncertainty when it comes to grilling. After the lesson, they often feel more confident and look forward to trying out new dishes on their own. This gives me great satisfaction.
What is one cooking tool you can’t live without?
I would say it’s the wok, as you can basically cook everything in it, whether it’s boiling soup, steaming, stir-frying, deep-frying or braising. Tell us about your favourite Weber product. For me, it’s the roasting rack. With the rack, I can practically do everything an oven can do, but on a barbecue grill!
What’s your favourite hawker to visit in Singapore?
Nam Hwa Fish Head Steamboat Restaurant, located opposite the Jalan Sultan Textile Centre. I also love the Old Airport Road Food Centre for delicious local fare like mutton soup, curry puffs and rojak.
About the Weber Grill Academy
Weber Academy Singapore offers a wide range of hands-on cooking classes across various cuisines. For example, the Asian Classics course teaches you how to make dishes like Hainanese soy sauce chicken and local sambal ocean prawns using the grill, while the American Classics course features comfort food like wagyu cheeseburgers and delicious mac and cheese. For more information and updates on Weber Singapore, and to book your next cooking class, visit weber.com/BookNowSG.
This story on Weber Singapore first appeared in the July 2021 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase the latest issue or subscribe, so you never miss a copy!