TAKING APART TRADITIONAL DISHES, REASSEMBLING THEM AND TURNING THEM ON THEIR HEAD. 传统菜式的传承和创新。
Willin Low meets all the requirements to be considered a celebrity chef. He is young and talented, the restaurant he owns and runs – Wild Rocket – is always packed and an ever-popular since it opened its door back in 2005, he is often called to Universities and TV shows to give speeches and classes. Oh, and he has a very interesting personal story.
Willin Low符合名厨的所有标准。他年轻有为，他所经营和拥有的餐馆Wild Rocket总是人满为患，从2005年开业以来就未消停过，他总是受邀去大学和电视节目上做演讲和授课。哦，而且他自己的故事有趣极了。
Even if he has always been passionate about cuisine, he was a lawyer. A pretty busy one, with international experience, lots of responsibilities and under pressure. Until he quit his job to go as a volunteer when the tsunami hit Indonesia – it was decided he would cook for the team of volunteers. That trip never happened, but he found a way to embark on a different one, and to change his life for good.
尽管他一直对烹饪充满热情，他曾经是位律师。律师生涯忙碌无比，国际化的工作经历，繁重的责任及压力。直到他决定辞职去发生海啸的印尼做志愿者 – 他当时打算去给志愿者团队做饭。印尼之行从未成行，但他却从中找到了一条不同的道路，并完全改变了他的人生。
I read about Willin, and tried to get in touch but couldn’t find any email address on the website of his restaurant [www.wildrocket.com.sg]. I was not ready to give up, so I sent him a message on Instagram saying I would stop by the day after to have a look. He would never get back to me – I thought – the guy has thousands of followers and for sure he doesn’t even read the comments to his posts. Sure – he wrote me back – I’ll be there waiting for you. Wow – I thought. And I went.
我读了关于Wilin的故事，并试图跟他取得联系。但我在他餐馆的网页[www.wildrocket.com.sg]上没有找到邮箱地址。我并不打算放弃，于是我在Instagram上给他留言，说我第二天会去拜访餐厅。还是没有任何消息 — 我想，这个人有成千的粉丝，当然他不会去读所有的留言。然而 – 他回复了我 – 我会在餐厅里等你。哇 – 这是我的反应。于是我去了。
How and when did you start cooking?
I started cooking when I was in the UK studying to become a lawyer. It was a necessity – I hated the food over there. And obviously my friends hated it as well, and that’s how I started having more and more people over for dinner. Once back in Singapore I would still cook for friends during parties and gatherings: it was my own way to de-stress. Then I read something that opened my eyes: “If you want to be taking seriously in what you do, you need to charge for it”. And this is how I started organising and hosting private parties in the weekend, while I would still go to my office from Monday to Friday. This went on for two years.
当我在英国学习法律时，我开始烹饪。这是很有必要的 – 我真的不喜欢那里的事物。显然我的朋友们也不喜欢，于是越来越多的人开始来我家吃晚饭。回到新加坡后，我仍会在聚会上给朋友们做饭：这是我独特的缓解压力的方式。后来我读到了一句话，让我顿时开窍：“如果你想认真对待所做的事情，你需要为此做出改变”。随之我开始在周末组织和举办私人聚会，当然周一到周五我还是去律所上班。就这样持续了两年。
How did you get to open your own restaurant?
At at a certain point I was clear to me that I wanted to cook for a living. But I knew nothing about how to run a kitchen or coordinate a kitchen team, so I just worked at an Italian restaurant as kitchen help to learn the basics. Nobody would give me responsibilities or let me touch the actual pans and plates because I was just a lawyer with no experience. After six months the tsunami in Indonesia happened, and that’s when I quit the job and decided I would leave as a volunteer. At the end I never went because of diplomatic reasons and found myself jobless and with the willing to do something meaningful with my life. Then a great opportunity presented itself: in a couple of months I found this very space, rented it and started working here basically day and night.
Was it painful to quit your job?
Oh yes! And scary. I remember being here the day before the opening 10 years ago and getting a phone call from my ex-boss offering me a very good position, a career advancement. And I remember clearly how painful it was to say “I’m in this new project right now – let’s talk again in one year!”. I took the risk, and I was desperate to make it! I had no plan B – it had to be successful!
当然了！而且是件令人恐慌的事情。我记得十年前，餐馆开业的前一天我接到了前老板的电话，他提供给我一个诱人的职位，是我律师生涯的升职。我还清楚地记得我是如何痛苦地回复他，“我现在在做新的项目 – 我们一年后再谈吧！”。我决定冒险，义无反顾的为了梦想努力！我没有任何备选方案 – 只能成功。
Could you imagine you would become such a well-known chef?
Of course not! I could have never ever imagined what was waiting for me! When I started I couldn’t care less about becoming a ‘chef’ – I just wanted to cook. I guess it all changed when I met my actual landlord. She believed in me from the very first moment and told me that if you do something so passionately, it will eventually be successful. This awareness made me work even harder – I couldn’t spoil my passion!
当然没有！我甚至都不曾想象等待我的是什么！当我开始烹饪这个职业时，成为“厨师”大概是我最不关心的事情了 – 我只是想做菜。我觉得我的房东改变了这一切。从一开始，她就无比看好我，并且告诉我，如果你做事情充满激情，那你一定会成功。这让我工作更加努力 – 我不能浪费掉我的激情！
What’s the recipe for your success?
What I’m going to say it’s going to sound a bit weird but… I guess the secret is that I’m not trained as a chef. This gives me freedom and, if you want, the ability to think completely out of the box. Pasta with Asian seasoning? My colleagues would die at the idea – but I say: “why not?”. Also, Wild Rocket is personally run, I try to be here all the time. I cook but I also welcome customers and listen to their feedback. People appreciate this.
我要说的可能听起来有点奇怪，但是….我觉得秘密就是我没有接受过正规的厨艺培训。这赋予我自由，及跳出条条框框去发挥和想象。意面佐以亚洲配料？我的同事会被这个想法气死 – 但是我会说：“为什么不呢？”。而且，Wild Rocket是私人经营的，我尽力全部时间都在这里。我做菜，同时也迎接顾客并听取他们的反馈。顾客对此非常满意。
Do you do any PR activities?
Ahah! I’m slowly getting better, but at the beginning I was horrible at this! I wouldn’t know how to promote my restaurant or myself. Even today, I still don’t have any PR team – I deal with everything personally and try to establish a connection with everyone who is interested in what we do. It’s very energy consuming, but I still think it’s the most genuine way to deal with this!
啊哈！我逐渐变得好些了，但是开始我这方面真是糟透了！我对如何推广餐厅和我自己一窍不通。直到现在，我仍然没有任何公关团队 – 我个人处理所有的事物，并且试图和每个对我们感兴趣的人建立联系。这非常消耗体力，但我仍然相信这是最真诚的工作方式。
What’s in the pipeline for you?
I have no idea. If you asked me the same questions 10 years ago, before it all started I would have given you exactly the same answer. We will keep going with the flow and see what happens. For now it’s very important for me to retain my team, to train and grow them. If it wasn’t for them, I would have never been able to run Wild Rocket and the other outlets all by myself.
And while the chat with Willin was extremely lovely, and the food was delicious, I particularly loved what he said about blogs. He told me how he thinks part of the success of Wild Rocket, at least at the very beginning, is due to a good review it got on a very popular food blog [www.chubbyhubby.net]. It made me happy: I feel what I do can really help start-uppers and independent designers to promote their work, and to spread the word about what they do. This has always been part of my mission!
和Willin的交谈无比愉快，他的食物好吃极了，我尤其喜欢他对博客的评论。他告诉我说，在Wild Rocket开业之初，非常受追捧的美食博客[www.chubbyhubby.net]对其做出了积极的点评，他认为这部分促成了Wild Rocket的成功。这让我高兴极了：我现在所做的能够帮助推广创业者及独立设计师，并传播他们所做的事情。一直以来这都是我的目标之一！
Willin Low e’ pop in tutto quello che fa. Avvocato con background internazionale, lascia tutto per andare come volontario in Indonesia dopo lo tsunami del 2004 a cucinare per il team. Quel viaggio non avverrà mai, ma ormai Willin ha deciso che il suo posto e’ in cucina a preparare piatti fusion per una clientela giovane e divertente. Il suo ristorante Wild Rocket a Singapore e’ un must. Ah. E Willin risponde ai messaggi su Instagram. Siete avvisati.
For all the pictures, special thanks to Willin Low.
Translation by Vivian Zhou.