Maureen Suan Neo presents
'TOUR OF THE ORIENT' supperclub
Maureen was born & brought up in Singapore, at the tip of the Malay Peninsula. A crossroads between east and west, Singapore became a focal point for Chinese traders in 16th century. The intermarriage of Chinese settlers and Malays resulted in the evolution of a new breed of descendants,the Perenaans. Their Nonyas (females) became fantastic cooks, combining a richness of Chinese cuisine and produce, with the aromatic herbs and spices of the Southeast Asian region.
It is this fusion cuisine that inspired the food served in Maureen's restaurants, which she now introduces to a wider audience through the introduction of Nonya Secrets sauces. Tonight we resurrect and expand on this rich tradition using pork reared right here on the farm.
From Harrods to Bridgwater, this is going to be some journey, after all :
A note from Maureen:
My love of food started in childhood, with early memories of fantastical family feasts. In keeping with Nonya tradition, my mother taught me to prepare classic family recipes handed down over many generations. These foundations in the most refined aspects of South East Asian cuisine stood me in good stead when I moved from Singapore to London and transformed my passion into my profession.
Thirty five years ago my first restaurant, Singapura, opened in Fulham. By 1985 the Sunday Times had featured Singapura in its top ten restaurants, and a year later Loyd Grossman included Singapura in his top 100 London restaurants. He also selected a recipe from my book Red Heat - Secrets of Singapore Nonya Cuisine, to feature in his 125 Best Ever Recipes cookbook.
Singapura moved to a new location in the City of London in 1993. The business grew rapidly - by 1997 I was running four restaurants. During this time we received favourable reviews from renowned food critics, including Fay Maschler and Charles Campion.
To accommodate the changing eating habits of the City workforce, in 2006 my husband, John, and I re-modelled the restaurants’ format into express dining venues, known as ASAP Deli. Our new operation was an instant success, serving over 700 customers daily, as well as delivering lunch to financial institutions, law firms and other City businesses.
During the 1990’s I also ran cookery classes, mainly for corporate clients. This led to an invitation to appear as a guest chef on ITV’s This Morning. Appearances on Food Network and demonstrating at the BBC Good Food Show soon followed. Alongside Brian Turner and Rick Stein, I was also invited by Harpers & Queen to participate in a charity cooking demonstration at Smallbone Kitchens in Knightsbridge.
In addition to managing the restaurants, I undertook private catering contracts. Functions included a reception for the Chairman of British Gas, banquets for the Mauritian High Commissioner and Prime Minister; a reception attended by Lady Thatcher and a fundraising event in 2015 attended by the then, Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.
In 2013 the leases for the restaurant premises came to an end and I decided to hang up my restauranteur’s apron. However, I wanted to continue using my specialist cookery skills, so embarked on the latest enterprise – Nonya Secrets.
This range of cooking sauces features recipes handed down from my Peranakan heritage, a fusion of Chinese and Malay cultures which emanates from the intermarriage of Chinese settlers to the indigenous Malays in the 16th century. It is this fusion cuisine that inspired the food served in my restaurants and is now being introduced to a wider audience through the introduction of Nonya Secrets sauces. The reception has been extraordinary; we’ve accumulated six Great Taste Award stars and the products are now available in Harrods and Fenwicks. It is an exciting stage in this new venture and I look forward to sharing Nonya Secrets with you.