Young food businesses and their mentors: Inspiring new generations into joining F&B industry

From Bartending Novice to Cocktail Maestro

What it takes to be Young F&B Entrepreneurs

It is no secret that Singaporeans love to wine and dine. But have you ever wondered what it’s like to crack into the vibrant and mouthwatering world of the food and beverage (F&B) industry? 

From the adventurous hawkers creating their culinary masterpieces to the passionate bartenders crafting innovative cocktails, the F&B industry is a melting pot of talent and dedication — but with peers as passionate as this, the industry can be a tough cookie to crack. 

That’s where mentorship comes in, as a guiding light to navigate this flavorful world. I had the chance to speak to 2 bartenders, Hirman and Kristine from The Store, and shed light on what it is like to enter the F&B industry and the importance of mentorship in this industry.

The Store

Next time you’re strolling along Neil Road and happen to spot a humble teal door, do yourself a favour and take a little peek inside. Beyond that unassuming entrance lies a cosy living room, complete with a comfortable sitting area. As you venture further in, you’ll see an intimate cocktail bar illuminated by a skylight.

According to Hirman, one of the co-founders and talented bartender at The Store, their concept goes beyond just serving amazing food and drinks. It’s all about providing a complete experience from the very moment you step foot through the teal door, where warmth and genuine hospitality take centre stage.

And here’s a little something that truly showcases The Store’s mentality – they hope that every customer leaves not just as a satisfied patron but as a friend. How lovely is that? It speaks volumes about their commitment to creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for all.

Entering The F&B Industry

When I asked Hirman and Kristine what made them jump into the F&B scene, this is what they shared:

Hirman was based in Dubai, working his magic in the industry as the head of brand development for Tito’s Vodka. But then COVID came, cancelling all his work trips and throwing a spanner in his plans. So, Hirman had a big decision to make: stick to his comfort zone and search for a similar gig, or return to our sunny island and create his brand using his creative flair. Hence, he chose to bring his talents back home and build something truly his own, showcasing the Singaporean spirit – turning setbacks into opportunities.

As for Kristine, her face lit up the moment she started to explain her motivation to pursue a career in the F&B industry. Her passion for the service line shines through as she relishes every face-to-face interaction with customers, finding immense satisfaction in their happiness and direct feedback on the unique drink creations that stem from her boundless imagination.

As we all know, it’s not always a bed of roses. For one, it’s a physically taxing job to be on their feet all the time. Hirman shared: “When I switched from working in the F&B corporate world to physically making cocktails behind a bar, I lost 5 kilograms!” 

Hirman also recounted that the Covid period was a dark time for F&B businesses, especially a new one like his. Trying to keep his business going and having the customers dining in was a tall order, during a time when there was a long list of restrictions. 

Lastly, he also shared that he encountered difficulties finding staff who are truly passionate about the craft, not just in it for the money. Hence, Hirman appreciates having Kristine around. She’s like the ultimate “people person”, all about creating meaningful connections with their clients.

Image credit: The Store

Kristine, on the other hand, faces the good ol’ Singaporean expectations — expectations of others to follow the common path of “go to university, get a degree, and then a corporate job”. It can be tough to stray from that path, but Kristine, a university graduate, followed her heart and dived right into the bartending world! It did leave her parents rather disappointed as it wasn’t what they expected, but she has since learnt to manage expectations. 

“We only live once,” she said, “so we need to do what makes us happy!”  She knows she can’t compare herself to others or let their comments get under her skin, when it’s all about chasing her dreams and finding her own version of happiness.

The Mentorship Experience

Image credit: The Store

Back in Hirman’s day, mentorship wasn’t common and he pretty much taught himself to get to where he is today. Hungry for knowledge, he would read each label on the liquor bottle during his early bartending days. 

On the other hand, Kristine herself had many good mentors who taught her bartending skills and good practices in the F&B industry. However, she emphasised that Hirman, her mentor (whom both of them agreed that his way of doing things is rather “old-school”) taught her something special, which is “to observe”. Only when we know how to observe well, can we learn more than what anyone can teach or be willing to teach. (So the next time you go to a bar, observe and you may just see why your homemade lychee martini doesn’t taste as splendid as the one from the bar.)

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That lines up with what Hirman believes in: understanding the “why” behind actions, about grasping the reasons behind certain methods and practices. When he was taught a certain bartending skill, he would analyze it and improve it. “Observe, learn, adapt and apply. Make it better and be more efficient,” he said. 

That said, while dispensing words of wisdom like these, he added that he doesn’t think that the experience or the sharing of knowledge is what makes him a mentor. He believes that mentorship is simply a support system, whereby guidance is given during tough times and provides that boost of confidence when needed.

Key ingredients for success 

Image credit: The Store

When asked what’s indispensable to succeed in the F&B industry, they brought it down to finding joy and passion in what you do. Both Hirman and Kristine were all about doing it for passion and genuine love for the industry, armed with the power of a positive attitude, being open to learning and making mistakes. 

“Take charge, be flexible, and don’t get too caught up in theories,” they shared. “Get creative with your menus, bring that unique flair to the table.” The icing on the cake is always finding joy and relishing each step of the journey.

Celebrating the F&B industry

It was such a pleasure to speak to Hirman and Kristine, these 2 happy chatty bartenders. I learnt the ins and outs of the bartending world and they provided real insights into the F&B industry, and what it takes to make it in that world. It’s all about that passion, that hunger for learning, and that willingness to take risks and learn from them. 

Keep that positive mindset, stay adaptable, and let your creativity shine through your menus. And above all, find that joy in every moment, because life’s too short not to savour every bite. With this recipe for success, you’ll be cooking up something really special in no time. Cheers to a future filled with delectable cocktails, flavoursome dishes and thriving talents!

The Store
Website | Instagram
Address: 11 Neil Road, Singapore 088809

Opens Tuesday till Saturday, 4pm – 12am  


Some responses are edited for clarity. 

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