At a tender age of 15 years old, Mr Clarence Tan had been working through his teenage years in various jobs mainly in the F&B industry to support his own lifestyle since he was a young chap. He worked part time all the while from 15 years old till he turned 24 years old, and in the midst of which, he attended the Republic Polytechnic studying his diploma for 5 years.
After his studies, Mr Tan entered National Service for 2 years and began his apprenticeship as a chef with his mentor who owns a western cuisine outlet at Serangoon Garden named “Grazie”. It was all out of love and affection for his then-girlfriend that he took the first step into F&B line because his girlfriend has a great love for food. Thus, Mr Tan started learning how to cook for his girlfriend initially and grew his food passion from thereon.
From start as an apprentice and a decision to venture into this food business, Mr Tan said that he went through many discouragements and hiccups along the way to his success while he learnt how to prepare the western cuisine from Madam Sandy Poon who taught him the culinary skills needed in making fusion foods. He commented it was a rough call to decide to take on this business however, eventually, his efforts paid off and his family approved his business decision and gave him complete faith at the same time, invested in his food venture.
Mr Tan said his passion for food started with cooking for his then-girlfriend who loves food deeply and it grew through the years of working in the line. Now, he believes that he is up to it to be committed 100% to the trade and do a good job out of it.
His life motto – “No matter how successful your business is, never lose yourself.”
What is your name and age, are you a local?
I am Clarence Tan Yong You, 27 years old and a Singaporean.
What makes your business or dishes different from others?
For ice cream, bold varieties such as wasabi are twisted to suit Singaporeans’ palates and I use cranberry and blueberry sauces to perk the tastes of our main dishes. Yuzi flavour is also a fusion into the cuisine which I offer and I serve a comprehensive Italian menu to my customers at my outlet.
Why is your shop named as such?
“Grazie” means “Thank you” in Italian. I took over the branding of this name from my previous mentor whose shop was called “Grazie” at Serangoon Garden. I was there as an apprentice for 1 year.
When was it first established?
1st March 2015.
What are your signature dishes?
Aglio Seafood Vongole and Cream Sauce Pasta.
What is your favourite local food?
Economic rice at any place where there are more varieties of dishes given.
What is your secret to keeping customers coming in?
Freshest ingredients used and excellent customer service in which I make an effort to remember patrons’ names and serve their orders efficiently in a short time.
Why did you decide to pursue a career in food business?
My passion in cooking started from exploring many different food outlets in Singapore with my then-girlfriend who loves food deeply. This led me to learn how to cook for her and eventually, I decided to pursue a career in this line.
What is your greatest professional success and biggest setback?
I taste success when customers know my name through my shop’s name “Grazie”. It is a kind of satisfaction that I derived from here.
When I had received discouraging words from people around me remarking that F&B is not a glamourous job and requires a lot of time commitment with an unstable income flow, this is my setback.
What is your comfort food?
Traditional buns with coffee.
Do you cook at home?
What does your fridge consists of?
Many different types of beverages.
Where is your favourite overseas foodies destination?
Thailand. There is a local Chinatown confectionery shop selling charcoal toasts and I frequent it whenever I am there.
What are your day-to-day responsibilities as an owner?
I manage the supplies of food and its inventories daily and I am also the main chef in my outlet. I train the apprentices to handle operations and preparation of the dishes, whilst occasionally, I take time to design new dishes for my menu.
What are the steps to becoming a restaurant owner?
He has to be self-reliant for the start and not rely on others to do any job but able to handle it alone. He has to have the willingness to learn of the trade continuously and strike a work life balance so that he will not be overly exhausted.
What do you think of the current market now?
Now, the competition in the market is stiffer, thus there is a need to “get ahead” of others to stay relevant. There is also an urgency to learn things fast and evolve with the changing environment in the trade.
How do you think it will be in the next 10 years?
By then, I think the younger generations will be more reluctant to join this F&B industry because a lot of time consumption and efforts are needed for these jobs and they will prefer not to sacrifice for them. Also, I believe those more traditional food outlets will become obsolete as consumers may prefer more modern food concepts with attractive presentations.
What would your last meal be?
Home-cooked food by my mother as I do not have a chance to eat her food due to work commitments.
Address: 34 Whampoa West #01-79, Singapore 330034
Opening hours: 12pm – 9pm daily. Closed on Monday