“ ALATI, or salt from the ancient Greek word ἅλας, takes great pride in serving only the freshest produce wild-caught by the hands of the fishermen at the Aegean Sea. Donning its traditional uniform of blue and white, the casual and comfortable restaurant with an ambiance reminiscent of Cyclades opened its doors for business on 30th September, 2015. Everything in the menu, from the meat to the pastry to the bread, are made painstakingly and meticulously by hand.”
Ioannis Stefanopoulos was born in a time very much different from now, before trendy professionals like Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay flipped the culinary canvas sideways. What would seem like a glamourous job now was actually, some decades ago, an occupation that nobody wanted to do, and stays so in many countries around the world.
This was no different for the Belgium-born 16 year old Ioannis. What started out as a funny insult and a passing joke between friends saw the adolescent Greek enrolling in a culinary school before graduating two years later.
The year was 1991 when Ioannis stepped into the industry as a culinary graduate. Ready to take on the world, it was precisely what he did. He developed his palate, strengthened his culinary skills, and broadened his horizons in every kitchen and country he stepped into.
He was deeply captivated by ancient civilisation and history, so he traversed to the three epitomes of ancient civilisation where he worked as the Executive Chef, from Greece where he was raised, to Sharm-El-Sheikh in Egypt, and finally to Shenzhen, China. But no matter which part of the world he is in, he would always go back to the Mediterranean way of cooking – fresh ingredients, generous portions, and back to basics.
Now, in his forties, Ioannis, along with his generation of chefs, knows more than anyone else the reality of being in the kitchen. “If you don’t want to have celebrations, no birthdays yours or whoever’s, no Christmas, no Easter, if you don’t want a work-life balance, no holidays, if you don’t want a stress-free life and if you don’t want to work less than more hours, if you have a wife, if at all even, that is tough and can live with or without you, then please, go ahead and be a chef, because you are going to miss everything,” he laughed.
Born and raised in Singapore, 1985, Leong Khai Git spent ten years in the kitchen, learning the works of doing business inside-out beyond just cooking.
He was in his final year of Engineering course in the National University of Singapore, when he decided to drop out. At age 22, Git enrolled in a year long diploma at Le Cordon Bleu, Sydney.
After he graduated from the Culinary Arts Institute, Git returned to Singapore and began working in the kitchen of hotels and restaurants for almost a decade, from the Ritz Carlton to Gaia Ristorante at Goodwood Park Hotel, and even had a six-month stint at Quest Restaurant at Etihad Tower, Abu Dhabi.
At age 28, Git opened his own restaurant along Duxton Road, with a focus on affordable off-cuts and modern Asian cuisine. His menu and concept wowed food bloggers, media journalists, critics and foodies alike. He was nominated for the Local Rising Chef of 2015 title by the World Gourmet Summit and was ranked the top 10 local chefs in Singapore. From the grit of the grill to the force at the front, Git understands the importance and value of blood, sweat and tears. He started from the bottom, and now found his place as a businessman in the industry where it all started.
“If you want to improve yourself, you have to do more than what your job dictates,” Git says.
“Be humble. Understand people. Learn something new everyday, and get somewhere, someday.”