Hady Mirza's sambal is so hot it's all sold out
Singapore Idol winner Hady Mirza trades mic for makan at Ramadan bazaar
He has been out of the limelight for two years, but many people will still recognise Singapore Idol 2 winner Hady Mirza, who can be seen at the Ramadan bazaar at Tanjong Katong Complex.
No, he is not there for a Hari Raya concert. Instead, the local singer cheerfully attends to customers and lets them sample the Hari Raya goodies at his booth.
The 36-year-old told The New Paper yesterday, as he was starting his daily shift: "When I was 16, my mother and I would sell ayam percik, lontong and lamb ribs at the bazaar at the old Geylang.
"Those lamb ribs would sell out every day. We like to cook and sell stuff, I guess. It is tiring, but we like it."
Hady moved across the Causeway to live in Johor Baru five years ago.
His last album was 2009's Sang Penyanyi, and in 2013, he turned his attention to FRHM Youth, an organisation he co-founded to promote Muslim education and way of life among the youth.
During this period, he has been making the daily commute to and from Johor Baru with his Malaysian wife of two years, Ms Nurjannah Nur Wahid, 23.
His mother, Madam Mardiana Ahmad, 60, and his stepfather, Mr Norazman Yunos, man the family-run booth from 3pm till evening and Hady takes over from 8.30pm to 11pm.
Hady said: "This is the first time in years we're at the bazaar doing it together. Usually, during Ramadan, we have nothing much to do together because everyone is working on their own thing.
"My sister comes down (to the bazaar) with her kids and we break our fast together here.
"So it is much more meaningful and I hope it will become a yearly thing. It is not so much about the business but the atmosphere and being with family, making new friends."
His brand, Tempting, which he started last August,is his newest business venture. He sells his signature tempe ikan bilis sambal (spicy fermented soybean and anchovy).
The recipe, he said, came from his late paternal grandmother. It was his mother who encouraged him to launch the business.
"My family has always been running our own business, from wedding services to bridal make-up to food, so the transition from singing to this wasn't a surprising one for me," said Hady, who has also worked in sales, but that "didn't work out because I can't work under a boss".
Five hundred bottles of the sambal tempe were made for this bazaar and a previous event, and within two weeks of the month-long Ramadan bazaar, they have sold out.
Although the business is mainly operated via his Facebook page Tempting Trading, the tempe is now also sold in 15 marts and halal frozen food stores.
Hady, who sees to every aspect of his business while his mother and wife help with the cooking, said: "Without a doubt, me being the face of the brand has helped the business, but we can't just rely on that."
Previously, he also manned booths at the MegaXpress Halal Food Expo this March and May.
Fans who recognise him have dropped by to support him.
"Most just have a short chat. They'll ask me how I've been, how is my wife," said Hady, who admitted the older makciks are most excited to meet him.
Surrounding vendors even tease Hady by playing his Hari Raya song Kenangan di Hari Raya, a duet with fellow Singapore Idol winner Taufik Batisah, over the venue's PA system.
But he will not be returning to the music scene any time soon, even though he is still under Singapore Idol judge Ken Lim's Hype Records.
He said: "I never intended to become a superstar or a pop star or the Asian Idol. There has been a mixed reaction to me choosing to stop singing but... it was my choice."
However, he does intend to start a family. "I want three or four kids. We're trying," he said.
It is not so much about the business but the atmosphere and being with family, making new friends.
- Singapore Idol 2 winner Hady Mirza (with his mother, Madam Mardiana Ahmad, and his stepfather, Mr Norazman Yunos)