A transition from banking to cooking, led Petrina to her new venture, her partner and happiness.
What’s your story?
I was in private banking for 8 years. I did my undergrad in Finance with a Masters in Wealth Management. I decided that I didn’t want to continue with my banking career. During the period when I was in banking, I cooked a lot as a form of destressing. Growing up, from the age of 3, I was taught to cook by my late father. We went shopping at the wet markets and he taught me typical Chinese home cooking. As a banker years later, I also got to eat at many interesting restaurants and that sparked my interest further in cooking. When I turned 30, it was a tipping point for me. I quit banking, broke my bond from my MAS scholarship for the master’s program, left for San Francisco and I enrolled in Le Cordon Bleu’s culinary program. In San Francisco, I worked in kitchens and went to school at the same time. I’ve always wanted to own a restaurant or cafe but didn’t want to just be a restaurateur. I wanted to be able to cook and create. A creative person by nature, it didn’t take me long to get things in place. And of course, in 2010, I met my partner Bryan who was also about to embark on his culinary journey starting with school in the Culinary Institute of America in Napa. We spent 2 years in San Francisco and decided to move home to Singapore as we felt Singapore was lacking in local chefs. There are a lot of celebrity chefs but local chef owners were few and far between. Both of us founded Morsels in Jan 2013, and the road has been arduous, exciting and interesting. We have been well regarded by our guests, media and various industry patrons as well as the ever supportive Singapore Tourism Board and World Gourmet Summit. They have put us in places to cook and hone our craft.
What excites you most about your industry?
It’s an industry that is very personal and for us. It’s the constant learning and interaction with people that keeps us going.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore is a great place for business. We have various government schemes, good tax regimes, a growing population of foodies, a melting pot of various cultures from all the expats who have come to Singapore. There are challenges but if you look around Asia, there is no other place with such a great system and English is spoken everywhere.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Follow your heart, commit your plans to God.
Be all that you can be, and never give up.
Who inspires you?
Great leaders. Lee Kuan Yew. Steve Jobs. Gandhi. Mother Theresa.
And of course God, he’s everywhere.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
On our recent trip to the US by train we visited a hamery in Murfreesboro. Artisan Bob showed us how he cured hams and it was the most simple way I’ve seen hams being cured.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would open a smaller restaurant, a really small one. One with 10 seats! Hiring in Singapore has been a nightmare.
How do you unwind?
With a glass of wine after service or a sake. Beach vacations.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Bali. It’s chill, there’s good food, spas, beach, rice padi fields and if you feel like partying there’s that option too.
Everyone in business should read this book:
I like Seth Godin a lot.
“Your art is what you do when no one can tell you exactly how to do it. Your art is the act of taking personal responsibility, challenging the status quo, and changing people.”
Good to Great by Jim Collins is great too.
Shameless plug for your business:
Visit us at Morsels
Bites that leave you wanting more Morsels.
This interview was part of the Callum Connect’s column found on The Asian Entrepreneur:
Callum Laing invests and buys small businesses in a range of industries around Asia. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is the founder & owner of Fitness-Buffet a company delivering employee wellness solutions in 12 countries. He is a Director of, amongst others, Key Person of Influence. A 40 week training program for business owners and executives.
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