Lessons In The Culinary Arts

A Career in Food and beverage

THERE’s a lot more to the food and beverage (F&B) industry than meets the eye. That was quite evident during the WED WEB CHAT — Cooking Up A Career organised by www.storm-asia.com.

As part of the JOBS20XX – Work In Progress series of discussions, the F&B  industry practitioners on the panel spoke about the past, present and future of the industry, lining up the facts to show that sometimes lessons learnt from past practices can sometimes be outdated and irrelevant, even.

However, there were was a lot more that was still relevant and current, and which added a great degree of complexity to what’s served up for your social media content.

Christophe Megel
From big restaurants to large organisations, Christophe Megel has built up a vast amount of knowledge about running F&B operations.

New Ways To Skill Up In F&B

Industry veterans, Christophe Megel and Eric Low spoke about the early days of hard work in a hot kitchen, picking up tips and tricks at the side of revered chefs.

Before the Internet era and long before chefs became rock stars, it was all about learning the business and trying to find placement in bigger and better restaurants.

Today’s cooks pick up knowledge online and learn in different ways. They still need to be in the kitchen, but aspire to run their own shop sooner rather than later.

“In my mind I said, wow you are mad, you are totally mad. Go out there, get your hands dirty,” says Megel during the discussion. 

“But I’m the Jurassic one because that’s the old school of thought. The new school of thought is very different. Never mind. I learn as I go. I make mistakes, I learn from that. I fall down, I stand up.”

Inderpal Singh
MasterChef SG 2023 winner Inderpal Singh realises he still needs to pick up on the basics, having turned from spotting cooked books to sporting cookbooks.

Impact of Social Media On F&B

These days, the emphasis has shifted to creating food that is Instagram worthy, where those in your realm of influence can comment and critique your images and wield undue influence on your memorable or forgettable (but not forgotten) meal.

“Before anyone else, Mark Zuckerberg eats. Instagram gets to know what you’re eating first,” chimes in Inderpal Singh.

The winner of the MasterChef Singapore 2023 season, who is currently working on several projects, feels that there’s too much information out there.

“Sometimes, I feel that while we have so much information, I think we have information overload with our phones and everything. But all of the  important information about the history and our industry gets lost in translation.”

Article continues after the video.

Watch the full discussion of WED WEB CHAT — Cooking Up A Career below.

F&B Customers’ Expectations

Eric Low, who worked internationally and champions heritage Singapore and Teochew cuisines, observes customers’ expectations changing with each new wave of changes introduced into the industry.

“I noticed especially in last year that there’s a changing shift in customers’ expectation, again,” he states.

Eric Low
Eric Low spent many years serving haute cuisine and Asian favourites on a yacht in Monaco.

“When Covid broke out and the government, you know, encouraged the use of robots to solve manpower issues and also to mitigate the spread of the potential spread of the virus, it was the first time that robotics was used in F&B service. 

“There’s always the ‘novelty period’, where customers didn’t mind it so much.

“But now that we are out of the Covid period, people realise that robots are just basically robots.

“And if you go to a restaurant and you have to pay 10% service charge and you’re being served by a robot that cannot bring you the little things that you want, people will start to have different expectations again.”

Lim Hui Nan
Her legal background has helped Lim Hui Nan spot loopholes and create a more even playing field for her restaurants.

The Business Of F&B

The business end of the food industry is something that is subject to many gears and levers.

Lim Hui Nan, Co-owner of Empire Eats Group used her legal training during the Covid downtime, to investigate lease terms and unfair practices that landlords try and fob onto clients.

“One of the good thing that emerged from Covid was how it shone a spotlight on the exacerbation of leasing practices in Singapore in the past decade.

“It’s to the detriment of tenants, but I think with the advocacy of a tenant-led cooperative — SG TUFF (https://sgtuff.org.sg) — and other business associations like SBF, RES, SRA and ASME, it created an awareness of this imbalance in terms of negotiating power.”

The passing into law of the Lease Agreement for Retail Premises Act mandates compliance of a code of conduct.

“Previously, you had to pay the legal fees for the landlords for drafting the lease,” Lim explains.

“Under this code of conduct, it is now mandated that this cost is part of the landlord’s business cost of operating its business.”

There is big money to be made in F&B, Megel reminds everyone. But where the opportunities lie will depend on how well you read the signals and how accurately you give form and shape to things forming on the horizon.

Watch our previous wedwebchats: https://storm-asia.com/category/wed-web-chat/

If you have a topic that is of interest, or have someone who would make a good panellist with a thought-provoking perspective on a subject, please email editor@storm-asia.com with your details and a short summary.

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