Mr Benny Se Teo
Director, Eighteen Chefs
"I want delinquents to know that life offers many alternative paths. You don't have to identify as a gangster, you can be a chef."
Owner of Eighteen Chefs, Benny Se Teo takes in ex-offenders like himself during their last few months of their jail sentence to train them in necessary skills so that they can have a new start in life. Through employment, he helps to ease their integration back to the society smoothly.
Benny went in and out of prison between 1980 to 1993 for heoin addiction from the age of 14. After a near-death experience, he turned over a new leaf and started learning how to cook. He went for a month-long internship at celebrity chef Jamie Oliver's Fifteen Restaurant before setting up Eighteen Chefs with two of his friends in 2007.
The number eighteen is a moniker for an active local gang and Benny wants to use eighteen chefs as way of telling young people that they don't have to be gangsters and instead they can be chefs.