Interior design as important as food standards for actor-restaurateur Adam Chen
Celebrity Chow with local actor-restaurateur Adam Chen
What drives a food and beverage (F&B) entrepreneur to succeed?
For local actor-restaurateur Adam Chen, who in recent years has displayed his deft ability to wear two hats, it is not so much about being a foodie, but possessing a burning passion to "create spaces".
He and his business partners own bar chain Five, Park cafe at Holland Village, Ikki Izakaya at Buona Vista and Golden bistro at Projector cinema in Golden Mile Tower.
"When we work on a new F&B establishment, it's very much like architecture and interior design," the 38-year-old bachelor told M over lunch last Friday.
"I like creating spaces where diners can feel comfortable and don't mind coming back.
"Of course, the challenge is that everything then ties back to food. Decor aside, the food we serve must be of a certain standard."
Fresh ideas are constantly brewing in his head, a result of on-the-go observations.
"It's become a job hazard. Whenever I dine overseas, I'd look at my surroundings and go, 'Could this work in Singapore?'" shared Chen.
We were at Japanese soup cafe Soup Stock Tokyo at 313@Somerset and Chen recalled visiting the original cafe chain in Tokyo before it arrived on our shores.
"After having a meal there, I immediately felt that it was a concept that could draw crowds in Singapore," he said.
"True enough, shortly after, a branch was set up here! I've become friends with some of the staff."
Chen will be back on the small screen soon as a stay-at-home dad in Channel 5's new drama Tanglin, which premieres on June 30 at 8pm.
Co-starring actress Constance Song as his career-minded wife, subsequent episodes of the 199-parter will air every Tuesday at 8:30pm.
Chen is confident that his story arc in Tanglin will "change the misconception of modern-day house husbands".
"Most people think stay-at-home dads are subservient," he said.
"Actually, a lot of them are very cool people. They used to be corporate professionals and it's by choice that they decided to stay home and look after the kids."
You're having chicken vegetable soup, beef borscht and Soup Stock Tokyo's signature, Hokkaido crab bisque. Are you a big fan of soups?
Yes I am. I'm not Cantonese, but I grew up in a household where soup was always one of the dishes on our table.
Soup Stock has, hands down, one of the best soups in Singapore. To the cafe's credit, Soup Stock doesn't have a kitchen here, their soups are flown directly from Japan to Singapore.
Prior to Tanglin, you played a zi char stall owner in Channel 5 comedy Koji Cooks. In real life, do you have good cooking skills like your character?
Nope. Cooking can never be my day job. I have a thing for creating restaurants, but I don't have a thing for creating food. (Grins)
I can keep myself fed with limited skills. My waffles are all right, I don't need advanced cooking techniques for them. These days, I've become more conscious of what I eat. I've cut down on meat and I do my own salads at home. They're not too difficult, it's just throwing a few pieces of leaves in a bowl.
Any favourite food haunts in the Tanglin area?
I love the chicken rice and fishball noodles at Ghim Moh Market and Food Centre. I can't remember the name of the stalls though. (Laughs)
Where would you go for a romantic dinner date?
Bob's Bar at Capella Singapore would be my pick. The ambience is fantastic, there are day beds all around and the huge terrace overlooks the swimming pool.
The lighting, the music, it's all 'very mood'. It's definitely a night place though, I wouldn't recommend going there in the day as it can get pretty hot.
You've been in the F&B industry for seven years. Have you witnessed any changing fads?
Back when I first started out in F&B, there was this whole movement towards industrial-themed designs in cafes and restaurants. But by now, it's been done to death.