“I am also proud of this sandwich [Rosemary Chicken] because when it was first introduced in 1999 in the CBD area, many of the sandwiches available then were mostly processed. But ours was and continues to be made from scratch, using a rather long process. I’m thankful and proud of our team for having the patience and integrity to continue making it this way.”
2020 marks the 20th year since our founder, Ms Yeap Cheng Guat, started The Bakery Depot along Upper East Coast road. What began as a simple desire to make honest food has turned into a fulfilling journey of creating nourishing eats for your wellbeing.
To celebrate this exciting journey, we’re find out more on the people who make Cedele what it is today. We’re taking a look at the hands that feed you. First, we sit down with our founder, affectionately known to most as Ms Cheng, to understand what inspired Cedele and what she envisions for the future.
Before you started The Bakery Depot [Cedele’s first outlet], you were working in MNCs. What inspired you to start working in the food industry and eventually set up Cedele?
Since my college days in the US, I was always cooking or baking for my friends. I’d make shortbread and eggrolls to sell on the side for some extra money. Or we’d have a warm steamboat in the cold winter nights. Even when I started working, I’d bake brownies or cookies for my colleagues and they would comment that I should start a bakery.
One colleague in particular stuck a post-it note on my desk when he was going away for a short holiday. It said “The best ideas are in the graveyard, so don’t keep yours there.” That gave me a much needed push to be brave and follow my dreams to open a bakery.
What has been the greatest challenge in starting and running Cedele?
Honestly, I find the greatest challenge over the years has been to collect a group of people who can work together and run the business coherently. The team we currently have is very special to me. Many of them have been with Cedele for many years. I hope that working with us through the years would give them positive attitudes to life.
If you could pick one Cedele dish you are most proud of, what would it be?
[Laughs] This is such a difficult question! I think it will be our Rosemary Chicken Sandwich. I came up with the recipe around Christmas and was inspired by the flavours common to Thanksgiving in the States. I am also proud of this sandwich because when it was first introduced in 1999 in the CBD area, many of the sandwiches available then were mostly processed. But ours was and continues to be made from scratch, using a rather long process. I’m thankful and proud of our team for having the patience and integrity to continue making it this way. The sandwich is single-minded in flavour and exemplifies what real food is all about.
What is one lesson you’ve learnt from running Cedele?
In the many years of running Cedele, one of the greatest lessons I’ve learnt has been to listen. Through the years I have met many amazing people, many of whom have indirectly become my life coaches. Some have taught me about business, about managing my emotions and even encouraged me to go against the grain and pursue my dream. I am extremely grateful to each one of them. They have taught me about life and have inspired me to live by these words: “be kind and help others”.
Where do you draw inspiration for new products/food? Any culinary inspirations?
Inspiration is infinite, it’s really everywhere. Since the early years of Cedele, I have been drawing inspiration from my interaction with customers. But specifically, I find myself drawn to personal stories about food that people prepare from the heart. It can be a home baker’s blog or a cookbook that explains the coming together of different cultures and flavours. I believe food is meant to communicate oneness.
[What about chefs who inspire you?] Oh, I really admire Nigel Slater. I think I have all his books. I would really love to cook for him one day.
What are your future dreams for Cedele?
I hope that Cedele will become synonymous with eating healthier and taking care of oneself. For 20 years I have promised myself that what we serve must be as good as how I would feed my own family and friends. We want to continue upholding that in the future, to be cooking and respecting food as it should be enjoyed and eaten.