Robb Report Singapore Thought Leader: Damian Jonathan D’Silva, Executive Chef and Partner of OUE Restaurants

Get to know Damian Jonathan D’Silva, chef, MasterChef judge and member of the Robb Report Singapore Thought Leaders community

Known to many TV viewers in Singapore as one of the judges on the local edition of MasterChef, Damian Jonathan D’Silva’s culinary journey started early, learning cooking skills from his grandfather as a young boy. Despite specialising in European cuisine early in his career, his true passion is really Singapore’s heritage cuisine, for which he is one of the island’s most prominent and tireless advocates.

Why are you passionate about what you do?

I’m not passionate, I think I’m a little bit mad. Passion does not understand the work required to achieve the goals you set in life. There are too many barriers and setbacks, and there’s also the challenge of getting people to understand your ideology, especially when people know so little about heritage cuisine. In the last 23 years, I have lived and breathed heritage cuisine. It’s my madness that wakes me up everyday to pursue this dream that one day, Singapore’s heritage cuisine will be on the world map. It’s a cuisine that has the soul of our forefathers and it is embedded forever in our hearts.

Name one common misconception about your industry that you’d change if you could.

I wish diners would understand and appreciate the amount of work and patience that goes into heritage cuisine. Too many diners who go for dinner are always in a rush to leave and expect the food to be served almost immediately upon order. I think it’s because they relate the food to what grandma or mum cooks and it’s always ready when you get home. What they don’t see is the preparation and execution of the dish.

How does your work align with your values?

Right now, the biggest part of my life is my work. My values show in the food that we execute. If something is wrong, then I have made a mistake and it’s corrected immediately and acknowledged throughout the team. My values are worthless if the team does not have the same beliefs.

Editor’s note: Get to know the full Thought Leaders community here.

Photography by Sayher Heffernan
Styling by Wei Lun Tok
Hair & Makeup by Angel Gwee
Credits: Chanel Beauty and L’Oréal Hair Professional; wool jacket by Polo Ralph Lauren