Dylan on Joshua

He has mellowed

Mr Dylan Ong (left) and Mr Joshua Khoo during their Shatec days.
Mr Dylan Ong (left) and Mr Joshua Khoo during their Shatec days. PHOTO: SAVEUR

Saveur's co-owner Dylan Ong calls his friend and business partner Joshua Khoo "hot-blooded", and notes that Mr Khoo used to "have a temper issue" when they started their restaurant venture.

"He is able to handle more things and doesn't get agitated easily now," says Mr Ong. "Joshua's maturity has risen over the years."

To that, Mr Khoo, who comes across as the more happy-go- lucky of the two, adds cheerfully: "I'm in zen mode now."

This from someone who likens himself to celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, known for yelling and screaming vulgarities in the kitchen.

Mr Khoo, who has trained at restaurants such as the now-defunct restaurants FiftyThree and Guy Savoy, as well as Tetsuya's in Australia, says that the culture of yelling in the kitchen influenced him greatly. On his earlier chef days, he says: "I would snap at little things at home, my fuse was very short.

"I remember when my mum made a sandwich with a sunny side-up egg. She served it to me and the egg yolk broke. I shouted at her, saying that, as a chef, I shouldn't be served something like this."

Shocked at his actions, Mr Khoo, who has a 33-year-old girlfriend, admits that he started to question himself and whether he should pursue his culinary career. "I asked myself if this was the life I wanted," says Mr Khoo, who considered becoming a gym instructor or dance teacher. He has one older and one younger sister.

He left FiftyThree, but returned to cooking and joined Raffles Hotel's butchery section because he was on "survival mode and needed money".

The duo had remained in touch ever since their Shatec days, and it was Mr Khoo who brought Mr Ong, then a "party-going army boy", back to church.

They would chat frequently and meet for meals, which eventually led to their discussion on setting up a food business fashioned after casual Western restaurant chain Astons.

On how they work together, Mr Ong says: "We balance each other. We can't always be in a good mood, but we encourage each other and make sure we are on the same page with our staff."

Reflecting on their journey so far, Mr Khoo adds: "We have overcome a lot together and we have many more obstacles to face. Sure, there is fear. But what is the worst that can happen? We can accept it, together."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 06, 2015, with the headline 'He has mellowed'. Print Edition | Subscribe