I read somewhere that Peter Knipp Holdings (PKH) is “a company born out of one man’s deep desire to channel over a quarter century worth of F&B knowledge.”
Walk us through what PKH is all about and the three brands under your company, namely World Gourmet Summit, Cuisine and Wine Asia, and Foodservice Consultants Singapore.
We have three arms in our company: communications, events and consultancy. We run events that are specially catered to our clients’ needs.
World Gourmet Summit. World Gourmet Summit (WGS) was the first event that took fine dining to the next level. This is our 24th year running the premier haute cuisine festival and it has become rather well-established over the years, having cultivated a strong following.
Over the years, WGS has evolved in its role in Singapore’s food & beverage (F&B) industry. We originally started out with the ambition of putting Singapore on the world map as the gourmet capital of Southeast Asia. Today, our aim is to bring in excellent chefs from exotic countries, and elevate these talents in the food industry.
It is very exciting as we get to meet extremely talented, undiscovered chefs and share their culinary innovations with the rest of the world. In recent years, we have been bringing in chefs from Argentina and the Caribbean Islands. These chefs have cultivated a following in their home countries. For example, in 2017, we were the first to bring Peruvian chefs to Singapore. Today, Peruvian cuisine is a highlight in South America.
We are constantly giving diners (who are becoming increasingly discerning) something interesting and exciting to look forward to at WGS. It is challenging for a food festival to still be relevant and newsworthy after so many years. This is why we constantly work very hard to introduce new elements so that WGS can withstand the test of time.
Cuisine & Wine Asia. Cuisine & Wine Asia is our communications tool where we share the latest happenings and trends in the region’s F&B industry. The magazine is becoming increasingly digital as times change.
Cuisine & Wine Asia has more than 23 years of experience publishing the issues F&B professionals need to know, and has built a legacy of sharing news and issues about the region’s culinary and hospitality scene.
Food Service Consultants Singapore. Food Services Consultants Singapore is the respected consultancy arm of Peter Knipp Holdings Pte Ltd and has been constantly growing as we work on projects across Southeast Asia. We provide consultancy services to concept development and kitchen design for hotels such as The Ritz-Carlton and Marina Bay Sands. The consultancy has a wealth of experience in the hospitality industry.
Let’s talk about the World Gourmet Summit (WGS), that timely initiative born in 1997. What can we expect from World Gourmet Summit 2020?
WGS has, for the past 23 years, been serving up excellence in the gastronomy world and we plan to continue to do so. This year, there have been many events that are affected by Covid-19, and we have definitely felt the impact as well. But, we will continue to run WGS with the necessary compliance and regulatory measures in place.
During the SARS outbreak, we were one of the few companies to continue with WGS. When other people gave up, we strove to ensure that our annual festival stands the test of time and we will keep doing so for the future. We will follow the government recommendations and implement the necessary measures to ensure that everyone is safe while having a good time. This year, we are rescheduling the annual festival to August. It is usually held in April.
My philosophy has always been that you only stop living when you stop doing things. Singapore has done an amazing job to keep us safe. But, we cannot simply stop operations and the running of our businesses, as economies will be severely affected.
This year, we have also rallied 21 fine dining restaurants to prepare a total of 1,000 meals and share the joy of food with healthcare professionals at Sengkang General Hospital. We think it is important for us to support these healthcare professionals as they have been looking after the needs of people in Singapore.
We also have the World Gourmet Awards where we acknowledge the efforts of key players in the hospitality industry who deliver the best dining experiences and products to their guests. This year, we are introducing new sustainability award categories to recognise the efforts of those who have been making environmentally conscious decisions in the industry.
In 2001, the World Gourmet Summit – World Gourmet Awards was inaugurated. It is the only national accolade that recognises key players in the food and beverage (F&B) industry. Walk us through this initiative and how it has evolved since then Peter, and also how has branding helped to shape the World Gourmet Summit – for it to be in existence for as long as it has?
WGS needs to constantly evolve. It may look similar to the average dinner, but it really is not. Every year, we plan the festival as though we are doing it for the first time. We constantly have to incorporate new partners and introduce new elements.
In the past, there was hardly a fine dining scene in Singapore. Michelin chefs were unheard of. Today, the needs and demands of diners are extremely different. We have to reinvent ourselves on a regular basis.
What will WGS be like 20 years from now? We will constantly need to look at what is missing in the region and add new elements to innovate and keep things fresh. For example, we are incorporating the theme of sustainability into our festival now because diners are starting to become more conscious of the impact of their choices on the environment.
Having visited hydroponic and organic farms in Cameron Highlands, we are also starting to encourage the use of local produce in the kitchen. The cooking process has not changed after so many years. What has changed is the science behind the process and chefs are responsible for using science to enhance the end product.
We launched the World Gourmet Awards in 2001 to acknowledge the efforts of key players in the hospitality industry who deliver the best dining experiences and products to their guests.
In Singapore, we need to focus on the consistency and excellence in the service industry. In this area, we lag behind some countries. We need to continue to place an emphasis on this.
We strive to continue to promote Singapore’s rich culinary scene, and get people to recognise that it takes great skill and determination to become a professional chef, sommelier and restaurant manager.
The World Gourmet Summit (WGS) is supported by the Singapore Tourism Board. When did they come on board, Peter? Also tell us – what it takes to make WGS, in a way, a national event?
The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) supported WGS right from the start. STB initially hired me as a consultant for two years and they eventually handed WGS to me to run as an entire business.
Their primary support is in the Overseas Development Programme. Every year, we send promising home-grown chefs, sommeliers and F&B managers on overseas attachments to reputed establishments. The establishments that they are placed in are relevant to their trade. For example, a pastry chef may have the opportunity to be attached to Pierre Herme in France and a Sommelier would be visiting the wine regions in Italy.
Much of the positive reception towards WGS has centered around the fact that the event has not only put Singapore’s fine dining scene on the map, but also elevated it to levels comparable to the global stage.
International chefs that we have brought to Singapore as part of the WGS have become our ambassadors over time. They go back to their home country and talk about the F&B industry in Singapore.
Some of them have also been inspired by the thriving F&B scene in Singapore and started restaurants here as well.
Where can we get more information on the World Gourmet Summit and World Gourmet Summit – World Gourmet Awards 2020, Peter?
What’s next for Peter Knipp?
The world is my oyster. I owe it to my family, friends and colleagues who supported me for the past 40 years. I am a passionate photographer and I hope to continue taking my bike to travel around the world with my camera. If I could, I want to live another 100 years to gain new experiences and continue learning.
Learning is what keeps us alive. There are many things we assume that we know but in truth, we only know it superficially. There is so much more we can learn about this world.
If I have the opportunity, I would teach. I have been a guest speaker locally and internationally. I hope to continue to do so. I have spoken at institutions such as Temasek Polytechnic and At-Sunrice GlobalChef Academy. I also have a library in my name in the National Kaohsiung University of Hospitality and Tourism in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.
I hope to continue to do philanthropy, learn and pass on everything that I’ve learnt to future generations. Life is a gift. Let’s not waste that gift that has been given to us. We should do our best for the present and plan for the future.