Chef Damian D’Silva first Singaporean awarded prestigious French culinary prize
Singapore chef Damian D’Silva of Rempapa restaurant will receive the prestigious Artisan & Authenticity Award 2024 from La Liste, a French ranking and restaurants guide.
It was created in 2021 and recognises establishments whose creations highlight their region or country’s culinary heritage.
Previous awardees include James Beard winner Sean Sherman, who champions Native American cuisine, and Seong-il Kim of high-end traditional Korean restaurant La Yeon in Seoul.
D’Silva is the first Singaporean to receive the award.
He tells The Straits Times that he is honoured and deeply touched to have been recognised. “It’s a step closer in achieving my dream, but more importantly, an endorsement for Singapore’s heritage,” he adds. “My aspiration has always been to share Singapore heritage cuisine with everyone, local and foreign.”
The 66-year-old will receive the award at a gala in Paris on Monday evening. There, he will prepare kueh pie tee – crisp pastry cups filled with shredded turnip and other ingredients – for international chefs and members of the media.
He will deliver a brief talk on his culinary philosophy the following day, and take part in a moderated conversation with Odette chef-owner Julien Royer about celebrating food traditions in Singapore.
D’Silva has been a vocal advocate for local culinary heritage, earning him the affectionate moniker “the grandfather of heritage cuisine”.
The multicultural menu at his restaurant Rempapa, located at Park Place Residences at PLQ in Paya Lebar, is a nod to his Eurasian and Peranakan heritage, and also incorporates flavours from Chinese, Malay and Indian cooking.
The chef worked in Italy and France from 1997 to 1999, where he picked up European cooking.
He eventually found his way back home, helming restaurants such as Soul Kitchen, Folklore and Kin, and also serving as a judge on reality competition show MasterChef Singapore (2018 to present).
He believes his win will encourage the younger generation of local chefs to continue their journey with heritage cuisine.
He adds: “Ultimately, the award is not about me, but is a celebration of our cultural heritage that all Singaporeans should be proud of.”