“I went from corporate to kitchen!”

By Mel Sim

Teh Wee Tee swapped her suits for an apron and has not looked back since.

In her last role as the APAC Director for Energizer Holdings Inc, Teh Wee Tee was leading the APAC Distributor Markets. Prior to this, she had worked over 10 years with Estee Lauder Companies in various roles across Asia.

However, all that changed when she decided she needed a different pace in life. “I always knew I wanted to start my own business but it was not something I planned to do in the near future. But my last role required me to travel 70% of my time, leaving very little time to do anything else. I felt it wasn’t sustainable so my plans to start my own business was brought forward,” says Wee Tee.

Until 2021 – the year that changed a lot of things for a lot of people. Wee Tee included, who actually took that brave move to finally start her own business! Her industry of choice? Everyone’s favourite in Malaysia: Food!

Together with her husband William, Wee Tee formed a catering business called AsianHouseParty. What’s the story behind the name? “William and I love entertaining so the concept behind AsianHouseParty was really about celebrating the Asian style home parties where family and friends get together over good food and laughter. However, William is a French chef; we serve mainly French or French-inspired cuisine. The brand has an amalgamation of both our cultures. Luckily we have similar taste in cool, retro style so that is the feel and look we go for AsianHouseParty,” shares Wee Tee.

Having started just early in 2021, it’s been a huge learning curve for Wee Tee, who has no experience in the kitchen let alone dealing in a food business. Some of the challenges she said was to put her head around the idea of running a food business. “It was hard to imagine the scale of operations in running a food business. From planning the packaging, buying ingredients, storage, prepping and delivering multiple orders simultaneously – this all requires so many levels of multi-tasking and planning. Luckily for me, William is experienced working in restaurants so that made the whole process easier for me,” says Wee Tee.

Cooking Up a Storm

Since running AsianHouseParty, Wee Tee is grateful that the business has been growing, despite being quite new in the scene. “We have received great feedback and many referrals too!” she says. What does she credit to this growth? “Good quality food, consistency and good service! Also, being mindful about our profit margins. You’d be surprised how everything adds up!”

Looking back to where she is now and her previous career, Wee Tee admits that being in the kitchen is definitely more physically demanding. But it’s ultimately more rewarding. “Corporate jobs are all about matrix organisation so there is less freedom in making decisions, less creativity. Running your own business on the other hand requires more disciple, guts, and also confidence.” Her advice for those who want to do the same? Three things: “Social media presence is essential! Know what you want to sell and who are your target customer. This will determine your brand positioning, your pricing. Finally, ff you’re new to the F&B line, speak to as many people who are in the business or have been to get an understanding of what is required. It can be highly successful and highly risky. Perhaps it is also a good idea to go culinary school as there are a lot of details to learn or even work with consultants,” shares Wee Tee.

What to expect from AsianHouseParty? “We looking to expand to a proper central kitchen and plan to launch more brands. Exciting times ahead!”

See what’s cooking at @asianhouseparty on Facebook and Instagram.

Dos and Don’ts of running a food business.

Tips from Wee Tee.

Do know your goals. Is your goal just to earn a decent living or do you have big plans to create a brand that is the next big thing? Ultimately, the food business is not just about cooking and delivering meals to your customers. Food business is like any business; you need to understand the whole operational requirements from marketing, to supply chain, to business management, finance, etc.

Do be practical. Know what you can do well to the point you can be consistently good. Know what you can afford to invest in terms of equipment, manpower, rental so you don’t over invest.

Don’t be impulsive. This is an expensive business to fail in.

Don’t be scared though. If you have confidence in yourself, go for it! But make learned decisions.

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