Celebrity chef-consultant Sam Leong is no stranger to being a guest chef at major events. But he reiterates the need to "be flexible" on such occasions.
"Based on my travel experiences, you have to be flexible as a guest chef because you are not cooking in your own restaurant. It is important to represent my country and the local produce I am working with," he says.
Leong, 49, is the only chef from Singapore taking part in the annual Margaret River Gourmet Escape in Western Australia. It runs from Nov 21 to 23.
On Nov 21, he will be cooking a four- course East-Meets-West dinner with Australian chef Nigel Harvey of Margaret River's famed Voyager Estate. The dinner is presented by Singapore Airlines, which he has been working with for 12 years as a food consultant.
Some dishes from Leong's 26 years of Chinese cooking experience include his signature wasabi prawns as well as scallop with red curry sauce.
To his surprise, the dinner sold out two months ago. But limited tickets and travel packages are still available for the three-day gourmet extravaganza, which features beach barbecues, wine sessions and cooking classes.
The chef line-up for the event includes more than 25 international food and wine celebrities, including Italian chef Massimo Bottura of three-Michelin-starred Osteria Francescana; and British chefs Heston Blumenthal of The Fat Duck and Clare Smyth of Restaurant Gordon Ramsay.
Besides meeting fellow chefs, such opportunities also help Leong chalk up experience. The food consultant also runs the sam.leong@forest cooking school and Forest restaurant at Resorts World Sentosa's Equarius Hotel with Forest, his 45-year-old Thai wife and fellow chef. They have two sons aged 24 and 22.
His first stint as a guest chef was 25 years ago in St Moritz in Switzerland. He also presented his famed wasabi prawns and coffee pork ribs at the American Food & Wine Festival in Los Angeles in 1997, after he was invited by celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck.
He says: "I was so kiasu, I made 600 portions of coffee pork ribs and I was so proud because my stall had a constant queue. Then I realised that it was because all the other restaurants had sold out their food as they had prepared half the amount.
"So, for the rest of the years when I participated in the event, I learnt to do smaller portions and to do them slowly."
For the full list of Margaret River Gourmet Escape events, go to www.gourmet escape.com.au