Jimmy TY Lim, a young Singaporean chef and restaurant founder

03 December 2017

With international stations such as the NOMA restaurant, he operates now his own restaurant, the JL Studio, in Taichung Taiwan, which is inspired by the traditional favors and cultures of Singapore, and strives to translate and interpret his vision of Modern Singapore Cuisine.

An interview about Jimmy´s life

In 2005 Jimmy started his international carrier by stations at the Equinox restaurant in Singapore, Per Se Restaurant – Columbus Circle in New York City, The French Laundry US, the restaurant Geranium in Copenhagen and the NOMA restaurant.

Q: How did you become a Chef?

A: Jimmy Lim Tyan Yaw’s love of tantalizing flavor started at a very young age. Growing up in Singapore, he spent his childhood dashing around his father’s restaurant kitchen, where local favorites such as Curry Fish Head, Chili Crab and Sambal Kang kong were the order of the day. Little did he know at the time; this would be the place that planted the seeds for his relentless search for incredible tastes. During his teenage years, a career in the sporting industry was Jimmy’s dream, but a serious knee injury was to cut his plans short. Through the journey of a lengthy recovery period he slowly found his re-awakening and pure joy back in the kitchen.

Brimming with a thirst for knowledge, Jimmy enrolled into SHATEC (a culinary school in Singapore). During his schooling, he represented both SHATEC and Singapore in numerous culinary competitions. Most notable, was when he represented Singapore in the 2006 WACS World Young Chef Challenge, where he clinched a gold medal. The same year, he also earned the accolade of Best Apprentice Team at Singapore’s FHA Two to Tango Competition, and was nominated as one of the “50 Young People to Watch” by the Singapore Straits Time Newspaper.

Jimmy joined Le Mout French Restaurant in Taichung, Taiwan in 2008, and over the duration of seven years, he worked his way up from a Chef de Partie to Chef de Cuisine. To keep himself abreast with the international culinary arena he also worked at The French Laundry (Napa Valley), Per Se (New York), Noma(Copenhagen) and Geranium(Copenhagen). With the opportunity to pass through some of the world’s most renowned kitchens, Jimmy’s became open to endless possibilities and began to explore his vision.

In 2017, Jimmy Lim founded JL Studio in Taiwan, with a mission to share the taste of his homeland. At JL Studio, Chef Jimmy creates Modern Singaporean Cuisine with the ambition to showcase the wide spectrum of flavours that Singapore and South East Asia have to offer. He is currently striving to re-interpret Singaporean food into a more international language, hoping for more foreign guests can relate to, appreciate and enjoy his passion and cuisine.

JL Studio was founded for cuisines from all over the world

Q: The way to opening JL Studio?

A: Growing up in Singapore, after being away for a decade, and spending most of his career in the fine dining industry. I began to question and ponder why the French, Italian, Spanish, Japanese and the recent “go to” trend the Nordic cuisine could attract worldwide attentions? But why not Singapore Cuisine? Why not South East Asian Cuisine? Are we not good enough? Or just that they don’t have a place suitable for them to present itself? To present them in a more interesting way. In a way, which allow more people to understand and appreciate them rather only just the locals(Singaporean)? Where is the link? What is the link? The link for it (Singaporean cuisine) to connect and stand up to the other cuisines around the world now? Thus he decided to take the path less travelled and give it a shot. Furthermore, in Taiwan, where most high-end restaurant focus on French, Italian, Chinese and Japanese. For JL Studio to come into the market to present Modern Singaporean and South East Asian flavors is an uphill task.

Q: Why did choose Taiwan for the opening of your restaurant?

A: Produce. That’s the most important thing to a chef. The island of Taiwan is surrounded by the ocean, which is abundant in the wild and farmed seafood. Different varieties of seafood can be found in different parts of the island, and at different seasons. My favorite are the fruits and vegetables in Taiwan! Taiwan isn’t known as “The Fruit Kingdom” for nothing. Taiwan is naturally in a subtropical zone and an ideal land for growing all kinds of tropical fruits. With mountains 4,000 meters above sea- level, and breezy cool climates from such mountains, you can imagine the wonderful vegetables and fruits that can grow here.

 

The beginning of JL Studio

Q: What have been the difficulties at the beginning?

A: The first difficulty in the beginning was for the local market to understand what we are doing and the flavors of Singapore. For them to get used to the spices, seasoning and pungent flavors. And not taking us as a fusion restaurant in the beginning. Things are way better now as they slowly understand what we are trying to put on the table for them.
The second was the staff. I am the only Singaporean in the whole restaurant. So, having to make them cook the flavors unfamiliar to them for my kitchen guys was difficult. But a trip to Singapore finally makes things much easier when they have tasted the authentic flavors. Now they understand better the flavors and what I am doing. Now they can even come up with ideas to twist some of the Singaporean dishes. I am really proud of them.

Q: The specialization of JL Studio.

A: The Menu pays homage to the tradition flavors and cultures of Chef Jimmy Lim’s youth.
All Singaporean street snacks, dishes to desserts you can name of. You can find dishes like:

-Hainanese Chicken Rice
-Laksa
-Nasi Lemak
-Satay
-Curry Puff
-Otak Otak
-Roti Prata
-Beef Rendang
-Bandung
-Ice Kachung
-Chendol
-Milo Dinosaur

All the above dishes are reinterpreted in the view of Chef Jimmy and his creative team at JL Studio. Translating them into modern and interesting creations to inspire the taste buds, with a dining experience that evokes all the senses.

Q: Besides Food what does JL Studio cares about?

A: The supporting and promoting of small dedicated local farmers using environmental friendly farming methods. Although our primary goal is to ensure our guests savor their experience at JL Studio while dining on artistically prepared, fresh and highly enjoyable dishes. But a very important and large part of the process is to source 80% of our products locally and not to keep large stocks but rather to source as much of our products fresh on a daily basis. This, together with the fact that all our dishes are prepared fresh with only the fresh produce, certainly leads to more strain on our team but absolutely allows us to achieve our stated goal of providing our guests with locally produced, fresh and delicious dishes. Another reason is also to reduce food miles by relying on produce grown locally.

Q: How would you describe JL Studio in a sentence?

A: “JL Studio want to share the traditional favors and cultures of Singapore translating them into a more modern and interesting way to inspire the taste buds and dining experience that evokes the senses.”

 

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