For a Good Cause – Renowned Executive Chef Tony Khoo’s Commitment to Charity

Chef Tony in one of his favorite places – the kitchen.
His cookbook “To Be a Chef” is only available when a donation is made to ASSISI Hospice, a charity established in 1969 to provide compassionate end-of-life care for the sick and poor. The non-profit organisation strives to allow patients to live their final days with dignity and peace.

June 27, 2016, Singapore – A school dropout, he started out as a humble chef apprentice when he was just 16. Today, after 40 years, Chef Tony is one of the most sought after chef. Celebrities, politicians, public figures alike sought to have a taste of his cuisine. Gourmets and foodies vie to feature him in their columns.

Still, that is not what truly sets Chef Tony apart from the rest. It is not his stellar career accomplishments. It is not his signature dishes nor his multiple awards. It is his commitment to the poor and needy. In 2011, he launched his first cookbook “To Be a Chef”, with proceeds entirely directed to charity. It went on to raise over $300,000. In 2015, as Singapore celebrates its milestone 50th birthday, Chef Tony launched his second book, “The Singapore Heritage Cookbook: Past, Present, and Future.” The 240-page cookbook, a tribute to some of Singapore’s most beloved dishes, of which their history, original cooking methods, current tastes in the hawker centres and avant-garde re-interpretation by 12 prominent local chefs are presented, went on to raise another $200,000.

Image: Chef Tony with his first charity cookbook, To Be A Chef.  

In light of these contributions, Chef Tony remains a relatively low profile figure, often appearing only when there’s a need to lend his image for a good cause. He travels the region regularly to cook charity meals for the less privileged, while members back home in Singapore would have gladly paid a premium to have a taste of his dishes. He has travelled and cooked for people from Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines to people as far as from Hong Kong, Taiwan and Shanghai. 

Asked about his motivations for doing what he does, Chef Tony said simply, “”I have always wanted to give back to society. I can’t put exactly in words why I do what I do. I just think it’s the right thing to do.”

His belief that good begets good is again reflected in the contents of his first cookbook. It chronicles Chef Tony’s 35 years of culinary experience – his journey from a school dropout to a world renowned Master Chef through grit, determination and passion for his trade. Beautifully illustrated photos and recipes of the dishes are not the sole ideas of his book. Chef Tony wants to inspire young Chefs through his life experience and give back to the society with the skill that he has honed over the years.

“The current young chefs are creative and expressive. I think they are eager for anything new and ‘westernized’. Sadly and regrettably, it is the lack of local support for anything that’s local. That’s why, my cookbooks, especially the second edition, are meant as an encouragement to be proud of all things local,” he said.

The cookbook “To Be a Chef” has been awarded “Best Book for Professionals” and 1st Runner Up in the category of “Food Professional – Best of the World” by Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2012 held in Paris. “The Singapore Heritage Cookbook” was awarded Best Historical and Charity Cookbook in Singapore and Asia by Gourmand World Cookbook 2016.

“If I can do it, no reason you can’t,” he concluded.

For more information about Chef Tony cookbook “To Be a Chef” and the associated charity organization, visit

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