September 1, 2015
In 2011, this duo opened Creamier, an ice-cream waffle café nestled within the heartland of Toa Payoh. The signature crispy edged waffles and luscious ice-cream won the hearts of many and business was bustling. Fast forward three years later and sister café, Sunday Folks was born.
Located within trendy Chip Bee Gardens, Sunday Folks opened in November 2014 and sports a similar concept, offering the same signature waffle recipe, but this time, complete with a killer swirl of soft serve. Though less than a year old, this dessert heaven already has its loyal legion of fans and online sites have crowned them “one of the best waffles in Singapore”.
Meet Audrey Wang, 42, a graphic designer turned baker, and one of the two engines running Sunday Folks. We talked about running a café business, thoughts, and how wholemeal banana cake sounds completely ridiculous.
1. What would you consider, the most challenging aspect of managing a café?
Maintaining and managing relationships is not my forte, I’m a crafts person, so I’m reading a lot now, trying to be a better manager. My [team] has been with me for over a year, so I guess I’m doing not too bad (laughs).
2. With so many cafes pulling out of the market, many have revealed that despite a passion for food, the business technicalities makes it hard to continue and some has even cited that it leads to an erosion of passion. How do you think one can learn to balance these two, and eventually, make things work out?
In whatever I do, I always follow my conscience. And [I believe that] just by following my passion, it’ll inspire people to like [what I can offer]. For me it’s always more to the heart, but Wan Chin (co-founder of Sunday Folks) is always more to the head.
Whenever I create anything in the kitchen, I want myself first to like it.
3. What is your food philosophy?
I’ve always liked food to be very wholesome. To me, people like wholesome, very hearty food. I want my consumers to look at what’s before them and see that it’s full of good stuff, [then] they’ll know that they’re going to get a good meal out of it. On my part, I [always seek to] find the most natural sources. Avoid addictives, preservatives, anything that has to do with chemicals.
4. Are there any ingredients used that make your desserts uniquely Sunday Folks?
We source our ingredients mainly from Europe, a lot are from France. But certain ingredients like eggs, we only want local ones. Other regional eggs just won’t work. We are very careful with the main ingredients. For example, we imported our pistachio paste and I believe no one else has it. And even though Gryphon Tea supplies to many people, the way we steep the tea and the amount we include [allows for a lot of flavours to come through]. The [intensity] of our flavours, is what I believe, differentiates Sunday Folks from others.
5. How did you scale down your choices and to eventually, offer only these various soft-serve flavours?
We are very particular about developing the right flavours. If you have more, you’ll be distracted. And over here we only have 3 machines.
6. Will we be expecting more flavours in the future?
We will change the flavours, but since this is our first year, I don’t want to keep changing the flavours and people forget what they are tasting, forget about us. So we’ll run the flavours for a year, and then we’ll switch some over. It’ll ultimately still be 6 flavours each time, but they will be switched around, giving something different.
7. Your Earl Grey Lavender soft serve uses the blend from Gryphon Tea Company. What made you decide to offer Gryphon Tea’s products as part of your menu and also, to include it in your recipe?
Gryphon Tea Company is a local company, and at the stage where we started Creamier, we wanted to support as much local produce companies as possible, so we were already looking out for people in the same trade, people with similar interests. Gryphon Tea was quite an obvious choice because the packaging looks good. When we display the products there is the certain kind of look that we like.
Before that we were also experimenting having tea ice-cream. It was one of the first few teas that we tried in our ice-cream, and we felt that it was a very good match. And since we are offering that for ice-cream, I thought, “Why not offer it in store too?”
8. When you think of Gryphon Tea, what is the first flavour you’ll think of?
Pearl of the Orient! That particular blend has many layers of flavours and a very distinctive taste. It was because of that flavour that I wanted to have Gryphon Tea at Sunday Folks.
9. There has been an increasing emphasis on healthy eating, going on specific diets (paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free, juice cleanse). What are your thoughts on healthy eating and going decadent?
Don’t eat desserts. (laughs) Desserts are not healthy! For starters, I’m definitely not following that food trend hah! No because, I myself have a sweet tooth. And if you’re going for desserts, go full out! Go for a jog or whatever after, it’ll be fine. I’m [definitely] not the kind that will go for wholemeal bread.
The other day my chef was trying to do a wholemeal banana cake, and I was like, “No la…” Dessert has to be dessert.
10. Being a patissier involves a lot of experimenting and making mistakes. Have you had any really nasty kitchen mishaps?
Well… everyday I have some (laughs)! Disasters are less now actually. When I first started there were many because you are not familiar with a lot of things. But most times were technical disasters, you know, your freezer stops working. You can imagine the tubs of ice-cream that might be melting, then you’ll have to re-churn it again or worst case, throw them away.
11. What is one thing you always tell yourself when things get tough?
Tomorrow will be better.
12. If you could, what is one thing you’ll tell your younger self?
Save more money haha! Well… I would have asked myself to step out more, travel to places, see new things. Even though now you have the money, you are tied to your job, there’s no time, and you get tired.
13. If you could go to anywhere in the world for a meal right now, where and what would it be?
I’ve always wanted to visit Spain and dine at El Bulli, but it has since closed down [in 2010]. Since [I could have any meal that I want right now], maybe I could just invite him [celebrated chef Ferran Adrià] over!
14. Complete this sentence, “It makes me the happiest when…”
When… I get to the shop and everything is running smoothly.
Photo credits: Sunday Folks