Imagine yourself when you were 14. You were probably spending much of your time in school, grappling with homework and dreaming of hanging out with friends. For Ang Hock Ann, that was the age when he decided to swap the classroom for a life in the kitchen.
“I was not very good with my studies, so I started work early at 14 years old. My parents believed that since I didn’t have an education, I needed to have a skill. ‘Learn something you like and enjoy’, they said, and entering the kitchen was the choice that stuck with me,” said the 51-year-old junior sous chef at Resorts World Sentosa’s (RWS) Malaysian Food Street.
Besides supporting his colleagues in the operation of the different food stalls in Food Street, Hock Ann’s work involves mentoring and training his team members on areas such as food safety and hygiene. He also looks after food quality as well as ordering and receiving raw ingredients.
Ingredients for Success
As Hock Ann approaches his fifth anniversary with RWS, he shared that professionalism and dedication have been key ingredients to him doing his best in a career that spans 30 years.
“With this spirit, you look into every aspect of the food you prepare, from hygiene, taste, quality, understanding the preferences of your diners and doing your best to fulfil their needs.
“It’s intangible, but it is something that you can pick up from other people and from books. Commitment to the profession is fundamental to building a career in the kitchen and will motivate you to always seek out new knowledge and be devoted to honing your craft, trying new things, and keeping up with changes in the workplace,” he added.
In his youth, Hock Ann strove to pick up new knowledge and practice his skills to learn the ropes of the trade. With more experience, he realised that it was necessary to continue learning and improving himself to keep up with the fast-changing food trends.
“Back then when the internet wasn’t accessible, I would learn from my peers, read books, spend my break hours observing other chefs and help them with various tasks in the kitchen. Through that, I could pick up new skills and knowledge that I didn’t have before,” he shared.
In December 2017, Hock Ann completed a Diploma of Culinary Arts from SHATEC. RWS selected him for the accelerated eight-month course and he was sponsored by what was then known as SPRING Singapore (now Enterprise Singapore).
Going back to school aged 50 wasn’t something that came easily to Hock Ann.
“It involved a lot of discussion and team projects that required research before the practical component. I’m not very good with English, so that posed some problems for me. Fortunately, I could ask my daughter and fellow classmates for help,” he said.
Despite having had to devote his off days to attending the course and working on assignments, Hock Ann is grateful for having had the opportunity to gain new knowledge and skills that have served him well at work.
Relishing Challenges at Work
The day-to-day work as a chef may be tiring with long hours, but Hock Ann relishes the challenges at work because of the sense of fulfilment and satisfaction that comes with overcoming them, and especially when customers enjoy the food.