Solo so good
WORKING as a female chef can be tedious – long hours, heavy pots and pans, bosses to answer to, male colleagues who tease and sometimes bully – but how much easier is it to run your own F& B business?
Susan Lim, 45, who works in the kitchen of her home- grown Kelantanese restaurant Kesom, says it’s still a lot of hard work. “I’m in the restaurant for a minimum of 10 hours a day, and that’s not even taking into account the time I spend marketing and sourcing for products.”
Lim is a home cook who turned her passion into a business, but says she isn’t sure she would be able to sustain the hours if she was married with kids, especially as working in a hot, fiery kitchen for long hours wears her down every day. Young women find being their own boss in the kitchen a panacea to the harsh reality of a professional kitchen.
On the other end of the spectrum is Lim’s needed. “I think that gives her more balbusiness partner Edana Lim Parina, a busy ance,” says Lim. entrepreneur and mother. When they Lim says since the business is her own, launched the restaurant, the two women her long- term plan is to train her staff to agreed that Lim would supervise everything prep most of the dishes for her, so that her in the kitchen, while Parina helped with the workload will eventually be trimmed. paperwork, enabling her to come and go as Allison Xavier, 33, meanwhile, is a trained required and tend to her children when chef who worked in London for seven years before deciding to launch her healthy food delivery business, The Rebellious Chickpea.
Together with another partner Edea Nor, the two girls prepare about 100 healthy meals a week and work 10 hours a day maximum. Xavier says she loves her current job as she has total control and can decide what she wants to cook and how to cook everything, and focus on doing her job well.
Xavier thinks her business is extremely sustainable as she doesn’t have a physical shop, so her overheads are low. Her expansion plans include adding dinner meals as well as selling to cafes and supemarkets. She manages by setting very clear goals for herself and worked out a balance so she doesn’t have to sacrifice too much time to the business. “We’re not too greedy, we do things until a certain time and if we cannot do it, we e won’t do it it,”” she says says.
Another advantage? Working with another girl! Xavier, who has long been used to working with males, says, “Working with all- women staff is definitely more fun and we actually don’t waste time at all. We just get on with things.”
For Sophia Foo, 30, who runs home baking business Frost & Flourish, having her own business is an asset. Although she works about nine to 10 hours a day maximum and is “pretty much chained to the business”, she loves the fact that she is her own boss.
“The risk levels off the rewards. I think the biggest difference is being a business owner and calling the shots. Technically, I don’t need to go to work if I don’t want to, I don’t have strict business hours and I bake to order, so if I can’t make an order, I call and tell a customer I can’t do it,” she says.
Still, there are limitations to what she does. Foo admits space is an issue, and the fact that she can’t sell slices of her cake cuts into her profits. She says chefs in professional kichens probably have better access to suppliers, whereas she is treated more like a consumer, because her orders are small.
As her business eats into her time ( she works alone), Foo says it’s probably better that she’s in a long- distance relationship because even if her boyfriend was based in Malaysia, she would never see him!
Still, she thinks having a home business is great for mothers who want to work in the F& B industry, and is something she will continue to do if she becomes a mother herself.
“I think it’s great for people who want to stay at home with their kids, because they can be around for them and work around their schedules, and if things get really busy, they could always hire more staff. I think it’s pretty sustainable and while you won’t be rich,rich you’ll have enough to live comfortably,” she said.
A pretty floral bake- to- order cake by Frost & Flourish. — Frost & Flourish