Imagine a monk, living in a monastery at an elevation of 2,334 meters. He treks for three hours to town and flies 5000 kilometers to Singapore. He hops into a cab to 28 Tai Seng Street and takes a lift up to level 5…
Lopen Namgay Tenzin, a Bhutanese monk, recently visited At-Sunrice GlobalChef Academy, Singapore for a three-week immersion study programme. He attended classes with At-Sunrice students and received hands-on training from At-Sunrice chef instructors. Most importantly, his visit honored a culinary great – Chef Christopher Christie – who mentored more than 200 At-Sunrice culinary students and left a legacy and passion for teaching.
Lopen’s journey to Singapore began in 2017 when Dr. Kwan Lui, founder and director of At-Sunrice GlobalChef Academy traveled to Bhutan. While trekking and sleeping in tents at 14,000 feet, Dr. Kwan Lui noticed that the trekker cooks were serving doughy pizza. She knew we could help promote tourism to Bhutan if we were able to better train the chefs and provide a better product. Led by Garab Dorji, the president of the Bhutan Guide Association, she met Lopen while visiting Phajoding Monastery, 11,000 foot range located in the Eastern Himalayas near Bhutan’s capital, Thimphu. Phajoding Monastery is also a refuge for underprivileged or orphaned boys. Dr. Kwan Lui was looking for an ideal candidate to be the first recipient of the Chef Christopher Christie Scholarship, someone who shared Chef Christie’s passion to teach and compassion for others. Lopen was the perfect fit. He agreed to learn how to make pizza without an oven in Singapore, and upon return to Bhutan, train the trekker guide cooks.
“It was serendipity that Lopen said to me, ‘I love to cook!,’” said Dr. Kwan Lui. “He mentioned that he must give life skills to the little monks and that they also feed all the monks in the monastery. I asked Lopen if he would like to learn something in At-Sunrice, Singapore. We are very pleased that through Lopen, we are able to help many, cooks, little monks and also give better food to the monks in the monastery.”
After receiving his official At-Sunrice GlobalChef Academy chef’s coat and apron, Lopen went to work. He learned about food safety and food hygiene policy procedures and the importance of creating a safe workplace environment. He toured the At-Sunrice gardens, prepared pizza dough, grilled meat and cooked fried rice. He discovered various Asian and Western vegetarian dishes and learned to make pizza without using an oven. He concluded his visit with an oven-less pizza cooking competition.
Lopen is sharing more than the recipes he mastered as his teaching will impact the travel and tourism industry of Bhutan. He is currently working with Bhutan trekking guides, teaching them the foundation skills and techniques so they can prepare quality meals for tourists. His time with At-Sunrice GlobalChef Academy armed him with the resources and training to successfully complete this task, providing him with training manuals and access to the school’s e-learning management system. Here, Lopen has access to videos, lectures new recipes, giving him the power of digital education technology to facilitate his continued training. Since his return to Bhutan, Lopen has successfully trained six chefs using both hands-on training and At-Sunrice’s e-learning management system.
“I was surprised to see how simple meals can be prepared from fruits and I intend to teach my students the same,” said Lopen. “Now we will be able to prepare varieties of dishes and even bake our own bread. Our monastery will be one of the first monasteries to make our own bread and cookies.”
Lopen admits that he did not expect to learn much during his time with At-Sunrice GlobalChef Academy. He thought he came to simply learn how to make pizza dough. He is now back in the monastery, equipped with knowing the importance of hygiene and sanitation in the kitchen, pursuing his culinary passion and promises to teach the recipes he has learned even to other monasteries. All of this was made possible by a chef who inspired so many to teach and do good. A man who left a lasting impression on the culinary world. We hope that Chef Christie’s legacy lives on through this scholarship and spreads culinary education worldwide.
[lt_recipe name=”Pizza Dough (Without Oven)” servings=”2″ prep_time=”10M” cook_time=”30M” total_time=”40M” difficulty=”2″ summary=”Who says you can’t make a perfect pizza without owning an oven?” print=”yes” image=”” ingredients=”420g Bread Flour;6g Salt;6g Frozen Semi-dry Yeast;240ml Water (Cold);30ml Olive Oil;20g Honey” ]Prepare the workplace;Scale and collect all ingredients and equipment ;Stir the yeast into the water, and add the flour;Stir the remaining ingredients into the flour mixture. Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic for approximately 5 minutes;Place the dough into a bowl and cover with plastic. Ferment for 30 minutes and punch down;Dough can be wrapped and refrigerated for up to 2 days;On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into very thin circles and use toppings desired.[/lt_recipe]
Lopen Namgay sent us a video (of him training the trekker guide cooks) in Bhutan:
UPDATE(24 Feb 2018): Lopen Namgay sent us a video of him training trekker guide cooks back in Bhutan.
UPDATE (14 May 2018): Added names of Marina Bay Sands’ staff in group photo.