Solo so good

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - TASTE - By ABI­RAMI DU­RAI star2@ thes­tar. com. my

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

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