February 8, 2023
SINGAPORE – Filipino chef Johanne Siy of Lolla restaurant in Ann Siang Road has received the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants’ Asia’s Best Female Chef award.
It is the first time a Singapore-based chef wins this accolade – announced on Tuesday – ahead of the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants award ceremony on March 28.
The event will include the first Asia-based version of 50 Best Signature Sessions, a series of collaborative dining events featuring chefs from across the globe teaming up with local talent.
Born in Dagupan, Philippines, Siy, 41, has been based in Singapore since 2003 and is a permanent resident.
The former regional brand manager for consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble left the corporate world after eight years to embark on her cooking career at the Culinary Institute of America in New York.
Her culinary journey includes four years at the now-defunct Restaurant Andre and stints in New York under chefs Eric Ripert at Le Bernardin and Daniel Boulud’s Cafe Boulud.
What started out as a temporary stint at Lolla quickly developed into Siy helming the team since 2020.
She was lauded as Female Chef of the Year at the World Gourmet Summit’s World Gourmet Awards in 2021 – which celebrates food and beverage and hospitality professionals in Singapore.
In 2022, she led the Mediterranean-influenced restaurant to No. 75 on the extended 51 to 100 Asia’s 50 Best list of restaurants.
She says: “I was just helping out at Lolla because it almost lost its entire kitchen team during the pandemic. I was even interviewing people for the head chef role.
“But everything I do, I put my heart into, even if it’s temporary. A little more than two years later, I’m still here.”
Dishes such as crab “relleno”, aligue sauce and kaffir lime are a nod to her roots. The aligue sauce from the Philippines is a paste of river crab tomalley cooked with aromatics.
The current menu was introduced in December 2022, with new seasonal specials to be introduced later.
On achieving the accolade, she says: “It is a great platform to shine the spotlight on female talent in our industry.”
Previous winners of the Asia’s Best Female Chef award include Hong Kong’s Vicky Lau, Margarita Fores of the Philippines and Japan’s Natsuko Shoji.
“While the industry has evolved, the reality is that we still have a long way to go to achieve a truly egalitarian workforce where we are able to leverage in equal measure the unique strengths that men and women bring to the table,” says Siy.