Food Consultant, Cookbook Author & Founder-Owner, Shermay’s Singapore Fine Food
Shermay Lee is a food consultant and cookbook author specialising in Singapore heritage and Peranakan cuisine. Her most recent endeavor and role is as founder and owner of her eponymous, Shermay’s Singapore Fine Food, which features a range of her marinades and sauces. As part of her food consultancy, she has worked with The Clifford Pier at The Fullerton Bay Hotel for the past two years. For SG50, Singapore’s golden jubilee year, she curated a special menu ‘Singapore’s Culinary Grande Dames’ featuring dishes by Mrs Lee Chin Koon (her grandmother), Mrs Leong Yee Soo (her grandaunt) and Mrs Ellice Handy (her former school principal); all of whom were pioneer Singaporean cookbook authors. In 2014, she conceptualised a special Peranakan menu based on her grandmother’s published and unpublished recipes for The Clifford Pier’s launch, the August menu as well as the permanent Afternoon Tea menu. Singapore Airlines (SQ) has also tapped on Shermay’s culinary expertise to commemorate Singapore’s 50th birthday with the creation of a three-month long‘Singapore Heritage Cuisine’ menu, available across all cabin classes and SQ lounges. This appointment makes her the first born and bred Singaporean, first Peranakan and amongst only a handful of female chefs who has collaborated with SQ on an international scale.
After more than 11 years of operating, owning and teaching at the renown Shermay’s Cooking School, she closed the school and its shop this June to focus on her food consulting and her brand of sauces – Shermay’s Singapore Fine Food. The brand owns and distributes its own range of four sauces (Cilicuka, a Peranakan chilli sauce based on her grandmother’s recipe and likely the world’s first Bak Kwa Marinade) and dry spice mixes, such as, Nonya Chicken and Fish Curry Powders. The brand supplies its selection of products to SATS, Singapore Airlines, The Fullerton Hotel and various retail outlets including Tangs, Culina and KrisShop.
Shermay is additionally an award-winning cookbook author, having won two awards at an international competition. Shermay’s inaugural cookbook ‘The New Mrs Lee’s Cookbook Vol. 1: Nonya Cuisine’ was launched in Oct 2003 and garnered 2 accolades at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2003. The cookbook was first awarded the ‘Best Cookbook Award – Special Awards Category (English)’ then proceeded to the finals and won a ‘Special Award of the Jury in the Respect of Tradition’. Her second cookbook, ‘The New Mrs Lee’s Cookbook Vol. 2: Straits Heritage Cuisine’, was launched in Oct 2004. Both cookbooks were on the Borders and Kinokuniya Top 10 Best-Selling list. Shermay’s cookbooks received strong reviews in The Straits Times, The Sunday Times, The Business Times, EasyStreats, Wine & Dine, Cuisine & Wine, ELLE, Prestige and Tatler in Singapore as well as in newspapers and magazines in Japan, Korea, Malaysia and Thailand.
Notably, one of the highlights of her 12 years in the industry was her role at the ‘Worlds of Flavour International Conference’ in 2004. She was part of the team sent as Singapore’s culinary ambassadors to the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley, California to participate in the conference where she gave talks and demonstrations on Singaporean cuisine.
No stranger to media, she has been featured on the cover of The Straits Times’ Life! segment in November 2014; other printed media (The Business Times, Channel News Asia, Lianhe Zaobao, 8 Days, TODAY, i-Weekly, Epicure, Lifestyle Asia, SilverKris, Honeycombers, OpenRice, etc.); and radio (Monocle, Gold 90.5 FM and Capital 95.8 FM). For many consecutive years, she has been listed in Singapore Tatler’s prestigious ‘Top 300 List’. Internationally, Shermay was asked by Chef Ming Tsai, the host of KPBS’s Emmy-nominated US TV series ‘Simply Ming’, to be a guest chef on the program and showcase her Peranakan cooking.
She has also been invited to judge various cooking competitions such as ‘The Perfect Meal’ which aired on Channel News Asia and was sponsored by Miele, and MediaCorp’s Channel 5 reality TV show, ‘Wok Stars’. In the past few years, she has been a judge for the ‘World Gourmet Summit (WGS) Awards of Excellence’ which recognises the top talent in Singapore and the region.
A 6th generation Peranakan with a strong culinary tradition, Shermay has strong impressions of being the kitchen as early as five years old by her grandmother, Mrs Lee Chin Koon, who was considered the doyen of Peranakan cuisine and was the author of the famous cookbook, ‘Mrs Lee’s Cookbook’, akitchen stalwart published three decades ago. She later attended the renowned classical French culinary institute, Le Cordon Bleu, then worked as an Investment Banker at Morgan Stanley, Schroders Corporate Finance and UBS Investment Bank. Prior to that, she graduated from Brown University, USA, with a degree in Political Science and History.