Makan

Cleo Most Eligible Bachelors 2019: Cooking up some love

These Cleo Most Eligible Bachelors 2019 finalists look as good as the food and drinks they serve up on the job

LEE SYAFIQ, 26

Co-founder of local burger brand Burgs by Project Warung

It all started three years ago, when Syafiq and his two partners opened a burger stall at Golden Mile Food Centre in Beach Road.

Now, they have two branches and are working to expand the franchise.

One of his goals is for Burgs to be a household name like the Ramly Burger. And we reckon that is not impossible, given their burgers are highly raved about online and have even been served to ministers and foreign delegates at big events like the National Day Rally.

LEE SYAFIQ.PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN

He used to work at a Michelin-starred restaurant

Before starting his own business, he was working at one Michelin-starred restaurant Terra Tokyo Italian. It was through that job that he met one of his business partners. He said: "We discussed it and I thought to myself, 'Why not take the next step and be a young entrepreneur?'"

Being a business owner changed him

Syafiq admitted that prior to Burgs, he was shy to approach strangers. His confidence grew after he had to interact with his staff and customers. His aim is to create a family-like team where everyone helps one another out. He said: "That is why one of our hashtags is 'good vibes with Burgs'. Every time customers walk in, they can see us enjoying ourselves. And once they get their burgers and eat them, they will really enjoy themselves as well because a happy team will cook a happy product."

He has won cooking medals

When he was still in school, he joined a cooking competition at a trade event, Food & Hotel Malaysia, because he wanted to earn a medal. He trained in Kuala Lumpur for four months at a convention centre to prepare for the competition and competed in two categories. He scored a silver in the individual category for "Main Course - Seafood Preparation" and a gold in the team category for "Best Apprentice Team".

He has loved cooking from a young age

Syafiq discovered his love for cooking when he helped his aunt at her food stall when he was in primary school. He found it so interesting that he ended up majoring in Culinary Arts at the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) College West. He said: "I didn't know much about French and Italian cuisine back then. I thought pasta dishes were just considered Western food."

He wants to bring hawker culture to the millennials

Millennials love cafe-hopping, but Syafiq is hoping to attract young people to join the hawker scene by working with the National Environment Agency to make hawker culture hot again.

After all, Burgs by Project Warung bridges the gap by serving halal gourmet burgers in a hawker setting.

He said: "I can say it's slowly dying off because the younger generation no longer goes to hawker centres. We would rather go to restaurants and cafes. What we are trying to do is bring in more youngsters to join the hawker scene. If you have ideas to open up your own business, why not start in a hawker centre?"


EDRIANE LIM, 29

 'I like meeting different people when I work'

Cooking up some love
EDRIANE LIM.PHOTO: EDRIANE LIM/INSTAGRAM

Bartender

Born and raised in the Philippines, he left home to work in Singapore eight years ago - and now has big dreams in the F&B industry.

When he was fresh out of school with a degree in hospitality management, an opportunity to interview for a position at Swissotel The Stamford's Equinox Restaurant came up and he gave it a shot with his parents' encouragement.

Bartending gives him a chance to meet people

Edriane started off as a waiter, but soon became interested in beverages. Since then, he has worked at Fairmont Singapore, Atlas Bar and most recently, The Capitol Kempinski Hotel Singapore. He said: "I like meeting different people when I work, like CEOs, frequent travellers, older guests. They tell me their stories and experiences."

He has worked out a social life around his schedule

Working the graveyard shift from 3pm to 2am means he cannot hang out with his friends after work like most people do - meeting them on Sunday or when they come to his workplace. And when he goes bar hopping with his pals, he can get through 10 bars in one night. On his days off, he still loves to visit bars, with Idlewild at Intercontinental Singapore being his favourite.

The end goal is to open his own place

The original plan was to return to the Philippines by the time he turns 30, but Edriane has decided to hold out a little longer and get more experience in Singapore while he can.

He said: "I always follow a plan, and the aim is to open my own restaurant/bar in the Philippines by 40." He envisages a lounge bar that is not too dark or loud, serving a fusion of Filipino and international cuisine.

- HIDAYAH IDRIS & CLARA HOW

This article was first published in Cleo Singapore (www.cleo.com.sg).

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Food & Drink