Remember those childhood days of playing chef, when we used to pick up plastic fruit with a toy spatula and serve it up to our parents?
For many of us, now that we’ve grown up and traded the toy kitchens for real ones, that childhood pastime has become an actual pursuit, with the possibility of even earning extra income from it.
Home-based bakeries and meal deliveries are springing up everywhere, spurred by the new normal of ordering takeout instead of dining at restaurants. These are operated by aspiring bakers and chefs, whose kitchens are no longer merely a space to prepare meals, but a springboard for their hopes and dreams.
For many, it’s a natural next step to think of turning their passion into a business, especially when their food has received lavish praise from friends and family. “It happens a lot during Chinese New Year,” says Adeline, a housewife who loves to bake. “Relatives will say that your pineapple tarts are so good, you should sell them.”
For Luke and Elgin of Japanese home-based restaurant Mikkame, it was a love of sharing food that inspired them to start their own business. “We have always found great contentment in having family and friends come over to our home and having meals prepared for them, and friends would comment that they would gladly pay for such a meal outside,” shares Luke.
It’s a great way to bring in extra income, especially when you don’t need much to start and there’s no rent involved. Too tired this week? Take a break from orders. Want to introduce a new menu item? Snap a few photos and put them on Instagram. The low overheads and flexible schedule of running a home-based business, as opposed to running a shopfront, make the former an attractive option.
Operating from home gives you the space to take baby steps, too. “It’s helped us fine-tune many aspects of the business process, [such as] customer engagement and personal management,” shares Luke.
It does take some business sense, though, plus a sprinkle of social media savvy. You’ll definitely need great photos that bring out the colour and texture of your creations, especially when visuals are the only thing the customer has to go on. Learning how to style your food, whether with botanicals or a pretty place setting, is also vital for making it appealing to the customer. You’ll also need to have a robust order system in place, as well as a trusted courier that can deliver your food without letting it get cold or jostling the presentation.
It might not be easy, but those who have started their business say it pays off. “The fulfilment and improvement were worth the strain,” says Luke. And as every great entrepreneur knows, it’s the journey itself that’s the most important – a journey that begins for the chef from the very first moment he picks up that toy spatula.