The Ugly Cake Shop in Singapore doesn’t just dole out desserts – it’s making the world a better place

Ugly Cake Shop

Co-founder and baker Lisa Tan uses the shop to make the world much prettier. That is, to eat ugly cakes and feed hungry children

“Let them eat cake!” Said by Marie Antoinette in the 17th century, it revealed just how tone-deaf the privileged bourgeoisie were. But Ugly Cake Shop might just change just that. 

Co-founder and baker Lisa Tan uses the shop to make the world much prettier: Eat ugly cakes and feed hungry children. It sounds strange, but it’s really not. Ugly Cake Shop contributes a portion of its profits to the nutrition fund of Shallom School in Timor-Leste.

The idea of feeding hungry children isn’t new, but using cakes is. Tan explains: “Growing up, I was blessed to have parents who were restaurateurs. There was always an abundance of food in my home. When I saw the children (at Shallom School), I couldn’t help but be moved to do something about their situation. I believe that giving them adequate nutrition will contribute to their health, overall well-being and future success in life.”

What had started out as a part-time venture for Tan and her husband turned into a full-time endeavour by 2013 thanks to the large following they had amassed. It hasn’t always been easy, though, given how saturated the market for bakeries is in Singapore. But eight years later, Ugly Cake Shop is still alive. It’s no wonder too, given Tan’s infectious optimism. “I think it’s impossible to dream of a better future without an open heart and an open mind. If my thoughts were only filled with negativity, I would never have had the courage to embark on this journey or even dream of helping hungry children. I would hole up in my comfort zone and miss out on a world of possibilities. I believe the most successful entrepreneurs were (and probably still are) dreamers.” 

Tan hopes to expand to more Asian countries. And while that’s still far down the pipeline, she leaves us with parting words on how we might add to the world’s prettiness. “I don’t think it has to be a grand plan. Just making the small step of touching one person’s life will make the difference.”

So if you’re going to eat cake, let it be Ugly Cake.

Ugly Cake Shop

This story first appeared in the March 2021 issue, which you may purchase as a hard or digital copy. Celebrate Robb Report Singapore’s 100th issue with us here