Singapore chef Tariq Helou dies suddenly at age 29 , Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Singapore chef Tariq Helou dies suddenly at age 29

Up-and-coming chef Tariq Helou died unexpectedly on April 25. He was 29. The cause of his death is still unknown.

The chef, who was of Japanese, Chinese and Lebanese parentage, owned Fleurette, an 18-seat restaurant in Rangoon Road he opened in 2020.

His mother, Ms Catherine Yong, told The Straits Times that the restaurant will continue running.

“I spoke to the staff, and they have agreed to continue for now,” she said.

He was the oldest of her four children, with a younger brother and two sisters.

Chef Helou started cooking at age three, scrambling eggs “without permission”, he told The Straits Times in 2020. He said then that he grew up watching his mother cook and would hang out at his Japanese grandmother’s home in Singapore.

He went on to culinary school in Switzerland, and worked there as well as in France and in Japan.

Back in Singapore, he ran a supper club before putting together a low six-figure sum from family and friends to start Fleurette. Right off the bat, diners took notice of his inventive, refined tasting menus.

The food reflected his heritage and training, and this was how he described it: “It’s like a pie. The crust is French, the cream topping is Japanese and the filling is local.”

In 2024, he was named Asia’s “most googled chef” by travel platform Explore Worldwide.

Chef Helou garnered 1.62 million searches on Google in 2023 in the study, which looked at the number of Google searches for more than 1,700 chefs around the world from November 2022 to October 2023.

In the world ranking, he was No. 7. British chefs Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver took the No. 1 and No. 2 spots.

Those in the food community were stunned by news of his death. A restaurant publicist who had just started working with Fleurette said: “I spoke to him a few days ago and everything was on track. I am so shocked. I cannot believe it.”

Chef Willin Low, 52, said: “He was such a promising chef, and still so young. It would have been interesting to see how far he would go ultimately. I am very shocked and saddened.”

French chef Julien Royer, 42, of three-Michelin-starred Odette at the National Gallery, dined at Fleurette and said he “loved it”.

“The few times I met Tariq at Odette or Fleurette, or elsewhere, he was always extremely kind and humble, a hard-working and passionate individual,” he said. “May he rest in peace.”

Chef Shaun Wong, 38, Fleurette’s sous chef, who has been in the business for more than a decade and worked at the restaurant for a year, said: “I have worked with many chefs, and he was one of the best. He treated us very well. I really enjoyed working with him, and if this had not happened, I could have spent the rest of my life working with him.

“He was positive and optimistic, always believing that anything can be done.”