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FOOD

Cooking up a Business: Three Food Entrepreneurs and Their Stories

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Turning a foodie passion into a business is no easy feat – yet these local chefs show us that with determination and hard work, dreams can become reality.

Challenge yourself with a passion project.

Evon, Founder of Grandma’s Scones
“It all started with a desire for change. After working in the F&B industry in different positions for ten years, I just needed a new challenge. So, in 2014, I went to Le Cordon Bleu London to study for a patisserie diploma, before coming back to gain more experience as a pastry chef at hotels and restaurants.

The idea of becoming a food entrepreneur didn’t come to me until 2019. It wasn’t a quiet year for Hong Kong; I just wanted to do something positive to encourage people. Since scones are my favourite but there aren’t many places selling them here, I decided to launch my own Instagram shop, Grandma’s Scones, last December. My scones are different from the traditional British kind. My version is less dry, thanks to buttermilk, and has a crunchy crust on the outside. I’ve also created unique flavours like taro and cinnamon apple. It takes time and hard work to perfect the recipes, but it’s all worth it when people love my products.
Ultimately, I’d like to have my own physical shop, but for now, I’m happy to share my love for scones with my online store and the occasional pop-up markets. And to all aspiring foodie entrepreneurs out there, I just have one thing to say: a dream will only be a dream unless you take the first step, so just do it!”

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Do what you, and the planet, love.

Fred, Founder of Soulmate Ramen
“From the Australian bushfires to COVID-19, these disasters all point to environmental issues that are caused by an imbalanced relationship between humans and animals. This realisation turned me back into a vegetarian (I’d been one when I was younger), and I wanted more people to understand that eating a plant-based diet isn’t just good for us, but also for our planet. As a chef, I thought the best way to do this is by creating delicious, vegetarian dishes, and this is how Soulmate Ramen came to be. Unlike other traditional ramen restaurants, I offer three vegan soup bases and a Hong Kong cart noodle-style menu.

We were lucky to find a spot in Central, but there were still challenges to overcome before we could open doors in April this year. For example, we needed a ramen that didn’t contain egg without sacrificing the chewy texture of the Japanese noodle. We couldn’t find one in the market, so we created our own recipe with our supplier instead.
Starting a restaurant is not easy, but I stay motivated by thinking about my original intent. If you want to open your own eatery, be prepared for the long hours and hard work. Do what you love, whether it’s wontons, Korean food or something else, then keep learning and become an expert in that cuisine. There will be challenges, but as long as you remember why you’re doing this, you’ll find the courage to carry on.”

Experiment with a different creative calling.

Tiff, Founder of T LAB by Chef Tiff’s Kitchen
“I never thought I’d become a chef. Five years ago, I was working to become a singer-songwriter. Because of the nature of my work, I had to follow a low-carb and low-sugar diet to stay slim, and that meant I could no longer eat my favourite matcha desserts…or, could I?

I began to create my own healthy matcha dishes at home. Some friends encouraged me to sell them online – and that’s how Chef Tiff’s Kitchen started. Over the years, I’ve participated in many pop-up markets like Tong Chong Street Market and those at PMQ. These experiences have not only expanded my reach, but also inspired me to launch a regular tasting series where I can interact with guests. Nothing is quite as satisfying as seeing the facial expressions of someone enjoying your food!
So, T LAB was born this February. One weekend each month, I’d cook for eight guests at Kyo Japanese in Kennedy Town. I call it a fusion tea fine dining experience, featuring an 18-course ‘ochakase’ (bite-sized dishes) with both sweet and savoury treats. It’s based on traditional Japanese tea cuisine, but I experiment with different combinations of ingredients to create new flavours. In a way, this creation process is like writing a song – the only difference is that now, the restaurant is my stage, and my guests are the audience.”


Do you also dream of starting your own F&B venture? Or are you a local food start-up wishing to reach more customers? Tong Chong Street Market is recruiting new vendors now to participate in this year’s foodie market. Act now to become a culinary entrepreneur!
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