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Rainer Zinngrebe
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What do you find to be the biggest challenge of working in Singapore?

Labor and commitment of staff. The labor situation in Singapore must be the worst in Asia. People are not committed to this industry, the local labor pool is small and due to an oversupply of hotels and restaurants as well as a limited number of Malaysians that we can bring into Singapore there is a constant shortage of staff.

After the recession of the late '90's has the current global slow down affected you further?

Yes, business has slowed down and Singapore is a place that reacts extremely fast to any changes up or down. Being a hub for banks, tech and other blue chip companies we feel it quickly here. It’s not as bad today as it was in 1997 while I was in Thailand, but the memory is still present and people are still scared that it goes down the same way it did then and therefore are very careful.

Can you describe your life style out of work, how do you spend your spare time.

Well the lifestyle here as in most other Asian cities for a chef is a 6 day work week with anywhere from 14 to 16 hours daily (I guess that is not news to any chef), which leaves you with very little time for yourself. I have a family with 2 young sons and all my spare time is spent with them. The only hobby I have is my Harley, which I ride to and from work as well as an occasional outing on Sunday mornings with some other chefs.

Can you tell us about your upcoming book....

In 1998 I opened the Mandarin Oriental in K.L. and was asked to produce some food for internal advertisement photography. Along came Shekar, a photographer that for the first time in my career I was impressed with. I liked his style, his way of looking at food and for the first time I had somebody photographing my food the way I saw it. We just seem to click and we had fun while doing it. After a few shots for the hotel he said “Hey, why don’t we make a book”. Having no idea how and being totally ignorant of it all I said “Why not”. So we started to take some photo’s every weekend or so until we had about 50 photo’s with recipes. Well…. That’s when we got stuck. We had photo’s and recipes but no clue how to proceed. So we started to talk to some people and the amount of help we got was incredible, everybody seemed to know something or somebody that was doing books. Finally we were recommended to talk to Joe Lam from Chimera Designs in K.L. Joe had designed and published a book already (not about food) and was a total foodie. Once he saw our pic’s, the recipes and angle of the book he was very interested in designing the book and publishing it. As it turns out Joe did design it but it is being published in Singapore by Flame of the Forest Publishing.

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