International Women’s Day 2023
“Do things that scare you”; “she who wills, can”; “find your voice”—these are golden pieces of advice given by some of Singapore’s most influential women in the buzzing F&B scene.
This International Women’s Day, we’re spotlighting women who’ve risen to the occasion and withstood the heat, both in the kitchen and beyond. From content creators like Jade from She Bakes Sourdough to established chefs like Shen Tan from Ownselfmakechef, they share what kickstarted their journey and what keeps them growing strong till this day.
1. Lisa Yap — content creator, The Lisa Feed and Good Maison
Image Credit: @thelisafeed
“Just do it. If we choose to show up and put out stuff we believe in and enjoy, it will resonate with the person viewing it. Growth is just a natural side effect.”
If you’re an avid homecook, chances are you’ve no stranger to Lisa’s Instagram account. With 39k followers and counting, The Lisa Feed is packed with fuss-free recipes like honey miso wings and kimchi ramen from the self-proclaimed “millennial mom”. She also runs Good Maison, a kitchen tool brand designed for the modern home cook. Enjoying home cooked meals and meaningful conversations with her family ignited her desire to inspire her followers with the warmth of home and the joy of cooking.
She started doing mukbangs on YouTube in 2019 with her husband behind the lens. It helped that she loved talking to the camera! During the circuit breaker, she started @thelisafeed, which took off almost immediately for its beautifully shot food videos. It means the world to Lisa to see that her followers are inspired to cook for their loved ones—some even DM her to tell her how her easy recipes have encouraged them to cook more.
Lisa Yap (@thelisafeed) | Good Maison
2. Chef Shen Tan — private dining chef and content creator, Ownselfmakechef
Image Credit: The Food Producer
“Find your voice and tell your story with your food.”
From ditching her corporate job as events director at Forbes to opening a nasi lemak hawker stall at Maxwell Food Centre, Shen Tan has come a long way in her entrepreneurial journey. Now, she prides herself as a private dining chef and content creator, who gets her sense of fulfillment from helping others cook delicious and healthy meals at home. To her, being a woman brings a different sensibility to the food that she cooks—one that is nourishing, comforting, and nuanced.
Meanwhile, her content creation journey started during the circuit breaker, which allowed her to tap into her creativity through filming easy recipes. What brings her joy is the fact that she can create new dishes and flavour combinations, while meeting interesting new people each day at her private dining establishment.
Chef Shen Tan (@chefshentan) | Ownselfmakechef
3. Jade Lim — content creator, shebakesourdough
Image Credit: @shebakesourdough
“The journey may not be an easy one. Stay true to your vision and values, and never give up on your dreams because she who wills, can.”
With a feed filled with squares of delicious sourdough bread, Jade’s Instagram account @shebakesourdough is no doubt a bread-lover’s dream. As a homebaker and content creator, she shares her passion through easy-to-follow video recipes that impart essential bread-making techniques and tips. What empowers her is the recognition that this social media space offers equal opportunities for both genders, allowing her voice and perspective to shine.
Although she picked up the art of bread-making only two and a half years ago, she was inspired by talented female bakers who have guided and encouraged her success as a content creator. Her foray started with a delicious sourdough bread she had at a local restaurant, which inspired her to make her own. Sharing her knowledge and recipes for free is her way of giving back to the community as she connects with a global audience. To her, basic bread is a blank canvas for endless possibilities.
Jade Lim | shebakesourdough
4. Joan Tan — business owner, Soshinsen and KOLABO
“Do things that scare you, because discomfort brings growth. Stick to your principles, be open to new experiences, be prepared for challenges, and be hands on.”
Joan helms Soshinsen, which translates to “So Fresh”, as well as KOLABO. The former is an online Japanese grocery that curates seasonal produce for home cooks, while the latter is a Singapore Food Agency restaurant-licensed studio. Chefs and culinary students alike can book the space for the collaborative events, private dining, and even product launches.
She is thankful that she hasn’t encountered situations where she has been made to feel less than, as she is seen as an equal by her peers in a male-dominated industry. With both parents working in F&B, Joan grew up helping with pre-service izakaya food preparation and washing of the dishes. Now that she is her own boss, her biggest fulfillment comes from going the extra mile for her customers, which makes her long days feel worthwhile.
5. Shermaine Sim — head bartender, Analogue Initiative
“Don’t shy away from hard work, always have heart in all that you do, constantly seek knowledge, and ask many questions!”
A visit to future forward and sustainable concept bar Analogue Initiative isn’t complete without bright smiles and top-notch service by their staff, especially head bartender Shermaine Sim. Armed with friendly banter and deep knowledge of the innovative cocktails, she finds great fulfillment in connecting with the guests who come through curious about the bar’s plant-based menu and spirits-free tipples.
Her first venture into the F&B scene was at a little salad shop. Over the next decade, she found a lot of joy and intrigue working with ingredients and being a part of their transformative process. She loves the fact that she’s continuously innovating and is empowered by all that is to learn, solve, and expand from.
Shermaine Sim | Analogue Initiative
6. Joanne Kok; co-founder, The Store
Image Credit: Joanne Kok
“Do you, be yourself, and don’t let surrounding negativity affect what you aim to achieve.”
Don’t be fooled by the unremarkable name of The Store, for the gastrobar holds plenty of surprises—from intriguing cocktails like coffee kombucha espresso martini to savoury classics like white wine mussels. Here, Joanne Kok deftly toggles her role as co-founder with daily tasks like serving the guests. What empowers her is knowing her sense of worth and being able to chart her own path by making meaningful choices.
Her interest in cooking was sparked at a young age, which eventually grew into a passion for all things related to F&B. With the inception of The Store, she’s able to meet new people and build a community she’s proud of. To stay true to herself, she believes in deflecting the negativity around her and focusing on her goals.
Joanne Kok | The Store
7. Simbian Chua — founder, Indocin Food and Century Bakkwa
Outspoken with a funny sense of humour on social media, Simbian Chua is the lady behind viral food creations like the Mie Ban Ban—her take on the Indonesian ban mie, as well as the iberico pork bakkwa from her heritage brand Century Bakkwa. Her humble beginnings in the F&B industry started at the age of 13 when she worked at Burger King Parkway Parade for just S$3.30 per hour. While the pay was measly, the free-flow Coca Cola attracted her to stay for a year.
As her own boss, she is motivated by customer feedback, both good and bad, as they drive her to do better. When asked what tips she would give to those looking to break into the F&B industry, she cheekily advises them against it. After all, passion for cooking can very quickly be dimmed by overhead costs and other challenges that come with running one’s own business.
Simbian Chua (@simxbian) | Indocin Food | Century Bakkwa
8. Genevieve Lee — founder, Sourbombe Artisanal Bakery
Image Credit: Genevieve Lee
“Throw away all notions of what could be impeding you just because you are female. With the right attitude and mindset, the industry will look at you no differently than if you were a male boss.”
Light and fluffy sourdough bombolonis (Italian donuts) take centerstage at Sourbombe Artisanal Bakery, the brainchild of Genevieve Lee, who’s also the runner-up of Masterchef Singapore 2018. As a woman, breaking stereotypes empowers her to do what she does and she hopes to seek a balance in societal expectations for both genders.
Her entrepreneurial streak started when she was 15, where she would set up a food stall alongside her aunt at the farmers market, plying her homemade gluten and dairy-free bakes. Now, she thrives in her own business by delving into the creative side of things, whether it’s working on R&D to improve recipes or challenging both herself and her team to keep up with trends.
Genevive Lee (@gen_lxn) | Sourbombe Artisanal Bakery
Women in Food Singapore
Whether you’re an aspiring home cook or a diehard foodie, let these women inspire you to chase your next big goal. Follow them on their social media platforms for more fun and illuminating content!