No looking Back
Truth be told, prior to the interview, I had no idea what to expect of Min Chan, the founder of Club Street Social and Decker Barbecue. When she first started out, she was adamant about not offering the “typical” truffle or foie gras dishes at her establishments (Ed’s note: These items are on the Club Street Social menu today). She also regaled me with anecdotes about how she loved being hands-on at her restaurants.
And by that, I really do mean hands-on. After all, how many restaurateurs do you know that can safely say they’ve worked every position on the floor? Not only does this grant an employer empathy with their employees, it also gives them insight into exactly what needs to be done, and how to do it. For that, I’ve nothing but respect for Chan.
Another thing that struck me about Chan is her brutal honesty, especially with the regards to the closure of Pistola. Her musings on the now-defunct fast-food joint that sold Asian-Mexican fare, was also refreshing to say the least, in a world dominated by PR-massaged answers.
Pistola was, and still is my favourite concept. It has been four years since we closed. We opened at the wrong place, and at the wrong time. This was before we had delivery services in Singapore. If we did it when we already had Deliveroo and Ubereats, it would have been a different deal. I don’t regret closing it. It’s a business, you do what you have to do.
In my free time, I hold dinner parties. I cook at home a lot. My friends come over for Games of Thrones on Mondays so I usually go home earlier to cook. I try to do something different every week. Recently, at my friends’ requests, I made vegan food. I usually put anchovies and bacon in my dishes, so it was a challenge to figure how to get flavour out of vegan food. I also make Sri Lankan curries, Italian salsa verde salads. I’ll be making Turkish food next.
I don’t make Chinese food, mostly because I grew up on it, and I know how exactly it’s supposed to taste.
When I’m hungover, I crave local food, like steamed mince pork with egg. I love Teochew porridge too. My family grew up going to Lim Joo Hin on Havelock road. I also enjoy eating Shui Zhu Yu (Sichuan boiled fish). It’s my guilty pleasure.
I spent 80 per cent of my travels doing something food related. On my last trip to Europe, I brought back more than 14 kilos of food. It was meat, cheese, olive oil… I was in Parma, so of course I brought back parma ham and parmesan cheese.