Makan is My Business: A Stir Fried Look at the Food & Beverage Business in Singapore

Food is perhaps the one thing that comes closest to a shared national pastime in Singapore. Everyone’s got an opinion about food as well as their own private litany of favourite eateries and watering holes. In a place like this, you would think that it would be easy to make a killing by pandering to the public palate, and you wouldn’t be alone – between 2010 and 2015, over 3,000 F&B firms opened their doors here in Singapore!

Yet longevity is far from guaranteed. Locally, only six in ten small food businesses survive their first five years of operation, no matter the uniqueness of their concept.

If you currently own an F&B business, are looking to enter the industry, or if you’re just hungry for more insight into the frenetic ecosystem, then join us for a wide-ranging discussion with four Rafflesian alumni intimately connected with Singapore’s F&B scene, on 11 January at Mahota Commune.

Our two-hour event takes a searching look at what it takes to enter a seemingly saturated industry, our panellists’ appetite for reinvention and staying relevant, and the directions in which they see the F&B scene evolving. Their profiles are included below. 

Topics covered include food heritage, disruptive innovation, the inescapability of social media (thing: the Western Co, fracas), and why local service standards suck (and what F&B owners can do about that). To allow us to manage the event effectively, please RSVP and let us know what else you might be interested to discuss.

Date: 11 January 2017

Time: 7.00pm

Venue: Mahota Commune, 809 French Road, Level 3, Kitchener Complex, Singapore 200809

Cost: Free (canapes and drinks will be provided)

7.00pm to 7.10pm - Registration
7.10pm to 7.30pm - Tour of Mahota Commune
7.30pm - 8.30pm   - Panel Discussion
8.30pm - 9.30pm   - Q&A and Networking


Nick Yen, Orgo

At age 38, after suppressing his dreams to break into the F&B industry to lead his father’s business in the engineering industry for a couple of years, Nick Yen finally decided to reignite his interest in challenging consumer’s perception of food and drinks. He opened ORGO in 2009 at Esplanade’s rooftop, constantly transforming local consumers’ expectations and dining experiences in the food and drinks he serves much to the patrons’ delight.


Prashant Somosundram, Artistry
(RI’95, RJC’97)

Artistry is Prashant’s solution to having a space that allows his large network of artists, poets, musicians and social activists to showcase their talents and share their causes while ensuring the space gets constant commercial use. His concept is simple - good quality and affordable food attracts foodies and emerging artists and activists are welcome to showcase their works on the walls of the café or at the performance space. Foodies are exposed to the arts and social causes, and patrons can get their fill at the event itself.


Yeeling Chang, Red House

Yee Ling joined her family business, Red House Seafood in 2005. As Director of Operations of the restaurant group comprising 3 outlets, she manages the overall purchases, marketing and human resource functions of the company. Prior to joining the family business she did the Cesar Ritz culinary course at The Ritz Hotel in Paris and also worked in the evenings in the hotel’s kitchen.Together with her siblings, they have expanded Red House Seafood from the initial outlet at East Coast (now defunct) which their parents have run since 1976, to a total of three outlets at Robertson Quay, Prinsep Street & Clarke Quay.


Debbie Yong, Digital Editor for Michelin Guide Singapore
(RJC’ 93)

A ravenous foodie and passionate storyteller, Debbie Yong was a news journalist with national broadsheet The Straits Times and a luxury lifestyle and dining correspondent for The Business Times in Singapore for over six years. She is now a food editor and digital content strategist with Robert Parker Wine Advocate, a corporate partner of the Michelin Group, where she oversees the Michelin Guide Singapore and newly launched Michelin Guide Hong Kong Macau websites.


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