HE IS only 27 years old, but Mr Timothy Lim already has a resumé that is the envy of many in the food and beverage industry.
For a start, he is the only Singaporean to have worked alongside one of the world’s most acclaimed chefs, Mr Tetsuya Wakuda, at his famed restaurant in Sydney, Australia.
Mr Lim recalls: “I applied for an internship at Tetsuya’s restaurant and I was asked to come in for a trial, for a day.
“I saw how the service was so different — from how you carried the plates to how you held yourself in front of customers to your attitude. I was hooked.”
He started working with Chef Tetsuya in 2007. Thus began his career in serving guests in the world of fine dining, where service and restaurant management is as important as the quality of the food.
Mr Lim’s playground is about to get bigger — on the familiar ground of his homeland.
He recently moved back to Singapore to help Chef Tetsuya open his second restaurant, Waku Ghin, at Marina Bay Sands.
Says Mr Lim: “I’m very excited about helping to open this restaurant. There are a lot of expectations about how Marina Bay Sands will change the dining scene in Singapore.
“It’s a great platform to make Singaporeans more aware of the service industry and how it can be a rewarding career too.
“There needs to be more awareness of a waiter’s position so that people do not look at it as just a casual job to earn extra cash but as a profession.”
The right touch
Mr Lim’s passion for the restaurant industry started after a part-time stint as a waiter while waiting for his O-level results.
The early days of serving guests and witnessing the clockwork restaurant operations fascinated him.
He even had a stint as a cook, which allowed him to understand the intricate links between the kitchen and the service staff.
He recalls: “I once considered pursuing a career as an auditor, with my quality management and engineering diploma.
“After consulting many previous managers and family, I decided to go back to the industry that offered me my first job that I really enjoyed — hospitality!”
His degree in restaurant and catering management from the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu, one of the world’s leading culinary arts and hospitality institutes, helped him penetrate the world of celebrity chefs.
However, the most important ingredient is not qualifications, he says, but the commitment and willingness to learn.
“Yes, qualifications are important, but ultimately you want your guests to experience the quality of the skill and delivery of service. And that’s something you can’t learn in a classroom. The hands-on experience is very important,” he explains.
Savouring the benefits
At Waku Ghin, the opportunity to learn from some of the best trainers in the industry is just one of many benefits.
Senior staff, including Chef Tetsuya himself, will provide the guidance required to nurture young talent.
Says Mr Lim: “We will have a combination of the hotel’s training and that of our restaurant in Sydney.
“For our approximately 40 team members, we will provide them with the unique opportunity to experience just how gratifying it is to learn a new skill and to develop it into a long-term career.
“For a chef, passion is the key. I’ve learnt over the years that a good chef relishes the look of satisfaction on the faces of family, friends and guests as they taste his creations.
“It’s no different for me. As a restaurant manager, I want to see this satisfaction multiplied tenfold. This is only possible if you have a great team.”