This week on Nomad People, we bring you the man who every foodie probably wants a piece of right now: Darren Chen, the brains behind Singapore’s largest gourmet food festival – Savour.
Hot off the heels of having just wrapped it’s third year, Darren’s magic touch left us all drooling with a trademark mix of Michelin-starred chefs, award-winning restaurants, culinary activities and international food producers.
It must be hard enough luring in top Michelin-starred chefs like Alvin Leung, Mark Best, Michael Caines, Henrik Yde from Denmark, Christophe Paucod from around the world, not forgetting local stars like Bruno Menard, Emmanuel Stroobant and Daniel Sia.
However not content with pulling off such a major annual event, he has also added another string to the Savour bow with 4X FOUR, a guerilla style dining series which saw 4 internationally acclaimed visiting chefs showcased in a pop up restaurant, fusing together the art of gastronomy with the world of visual art.
It’s enough to make any foodie green as a runner bean. And we wanted to find out – how does he do it? We find out in our interview here:
1. Tell us about what you do…
My role oversees all brands created and executed by Savour Events Private Limited. This includes our flagship SAVOUR event, pop-up dining 4 X FOUR, our Private Dining Series as well as all new projects in our very busy pipeline. Being in a small but ambitious company, I have to play many roles: visionary, accountant, construction worker, salesman. The term “sai kang” warrior very much applies to me and the rest of my team.
2. Congrats on another successful year of Savour 2014! How does it feel now that it’s all over? Or is it?
While SAVOUR is a huge undertaking (this year, we built up 11,000 sqm in 8 days – our most punishing schedule ever), we’ve used our past experience to manage the 2014 event better. A day after SAVOUR 2014, we had already sat down to plan the Post-Event SAVOUR menus with our partner restaurants, as well as taken meetings related to two new projects in May and July 2014. I don’t feel tired at all, though I am massively sunburnt!
3. We know you shouldn’t play favourites, but which were your three favourite elements or stands at Savour 2014?
(1) 2-Michelin-star chef Michael Caines was a class act, both personally and professionally.
(2) The gorgeous view and breeze we had in the new location.
(3) Our hands-on cooking studio – very professionally set up and my pride and joy.
4. If you had a “Do you know?” section on the event, what little-known facts (or dirt!) will make it there? C’mon give us at least three…
I’m not sure we have many little-known facts given we are such a simple event to understand! For 2014, many attendees didn’t realise that the second floor of our viewing gallery had super comfortable bean bags to sit on and soak in the skyline. I managed to spend a nice 4 minutes there one evening.
5. What were the lessons learnt in Savour 2013 that helped you better this year’s edition?
SAVOUR 2013 was very linear and compartmentalised. We wanted SAVOUR 2014 to be integrated better, and I think we achieved it with the new location and revamped layout. We are already thinking about 2015’s edition and how the venue could be laid out better.
6. Seriously, kudos for standing out in Singapore’s crowded F&B calendar! What do you think are the key elements to your success?
We are not pretentious, very accessible in all forms (pricing, chefs, location) and we try to be ahead of the curve in terms of content we think our fans will want to see and experience.
7. Any exciting plans for the rest of the year? Any plans for Savour to expand overseas?
Yes, we are in talks to bring the SAVOUR brand overseas to one of two neighbouring countries. In Singapore, the rest of the year will include 2 new brand launches and an exciting new concept for our pop-up dining experience, 4 X FOUR.
8. If you won $20million in the lottery what would you do with the money?
Migrate to an emerging country and start a lottery business
9. What was the worst piece of advice you have been given?
“Why don’t you migrate to an emerging country and try starting up a lottery business?”.
10. If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?
I would be Dr Manhattan of the Watchmen and clone myself. One clone would oversee all of Savour Events’s projects, another would spend time inventing the next Whatsapp. The real me would be at home spending time with my wife and raising a family.
Written by Mr Nom Nom