Full steam ahead to culinary world
Mr Zachariah Mathias Chow spent a year in junior college, but decided that it was not for him.
The 21-year-old said: "After one year in JC, what I wanted to do became clearer, so I made the switch."
In 2014, he transferred to Temasek Polytechnic (TP), enrolling in its culinary and catering management course.
He told The New Paper that he was attracted to TP because it was the pioneer culinary course among the polytechnics here.
"I also liked their link-up with the CIA (Culinary Institute of America)," he said.
"We share the facilities with CIA and their instructors teach us as well."
In his three years in TP, Mr Chow was drilled in the fundamentals.
He polished his basic cooking skills by learning and making basic sauces and stocks, picking up different techniques and different knife cuts.
Mr Chow also learned valuable life lessons.
He told The New Paper: "Being introverted, it was initially difficult for me to communicate in the kitchen.
"(My experience) actually helped me to open up a lot more and I managed to work better."
Mr Chow spent his internship at Iggy's, gaining experience in a fine-dining restaurant.
Mr Chow admitted that the attention to detail required at Iggy's was challenging.
"Expectations were very high. Everyone was strict and we had to be proper and organised. That pushed me to be the same way for competitions as well."
TOP YOUNG CHEF
Mr Chow's first competition was the WorldSkills competition in 2016. The nation-wide event pitted him against 12 other chefs from Singapore.
While Mr Chow was not among the top three contestants, he built on the experience to clinch three awards - Best Media Menu, Best Appetiser and Best Main Course - and was overall champion in Singapore Top Young Chef 2017.
He will understudy Singapore's national team as they prepare for the 2018 Culinary World Cup in Luxembourg.
Mr Chow was initially unsure of pursuing a career in the F&B industry, but is now keen on being a full-time chef.
Always looking to improve, Mr Chow and some of his classmates organised a pop-up four-course formal dining experience for 30 guests after graduation.
He also updates his cooking experiences in a notebook and intends to go overseas after graduating to expand his knowledge and gain experience before coming back to Singapore to open his own restaurant.
"After going through everything, I would rather be doing something that is my passion than something I'm not really interested in but that makes me more money," said Mr Chow.
"I would like to make fine-dining food more approachable for the everyday man."