His dream is to cook for the President

Six in 10 people with disabilities do not feel that they are socially included, accepted or given opportunities to achieve their potential, according to a study on the quality of life of vulnerable groups in Singapore last year. Launched in June 2016, "See the True Me" is a five-year public education campaign organised by the National Council of Social Service to raise awareness of the issues faced by the disabled and promote inclusion in Singapore. In line with the International Day of Disabled Persons yesterday, The Straits Times celebrates the strengths and abilities of seven persons with disabilities in their respective areas of work.


Cook at Shangri-La's Rasa Sentosa Resort and Spa

As a cook, Mr Simon works the night shift in the hotel kitchen, cooking for room guests and helping to prepare the breakfast buffet.

A graduate of the APSN Delta Senior School, Mr Simon, who has mild intellectual disability, did an 18-month internship at the resort in 2011 before he was officially hired in January 2013.

He trained in every kitchen - hot, cold, pastry, Indian and butchery - before he decided that his passion was working in the hot kitchen.

Since his first stint at the resort, Mr Simon has worked closely with his mentors - senior sous chef Amresh Ramadass, 39, and sous chef Desmond Yit, 50 - and looks up to them for their experience and guidance.

"Paul is a very fast learner, adapts quickly to situations and is able to work independently," says Mr Ramadass. A guest asked for prawn curry once, which was not included in the menu, and Mr Simon was able to make it from scratch.


Paul is a very fast learner, adapts quickly to situations and is able to work independently.

MR AMRESH RAMADASS, senior sous chef and one of Mr Paul Simon's mentors.

He hopes to cook for President Halimah Yacob one day and dreams of owning his own restaurant where he will sell his mother's much-loved mutton briyani, made from a family recipe.

Despite being able to whip up dishes like lasagne and chicken roulade, his mother is still the better cook, because he still "cannot get the wonderful taste right". "Give me six more months," he says with a laugh.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 04, 2017, with the headline 'His dream is to cook for the President'. Print Edition | Subscribe