Crafting Constant in the Cool

FEATURE: UNIQLO

Crafting Constant in the Cool

Photo courtesy of Uniqlo.
Photo courtesy of Uniqlo.
Today’s pick up, Uniqlo on October 14, 2016.
Read actual report here: http://www.uniqlo.com/sg/timeline/detail/201610141117/

Featuring Ivan Yeo, Head Chef & Owner of The 1925 Microbrewery & Restaurant

One would walk into The 1925 Microbrewery & Restaurant to be greeted by the sheer depth of this shop lot, made narrow by four beer fermenters and a sizeable array of liquor waiting to be relished.

Ivan Yeo, or the “most full-time person around here” as he puts it, walks right up with both an ease and edge that bids you to take him as he is.

For most part of his working life – 15 years to be exact, he had been neck deep in the saturated world of media and advertising. Besides designing ground up and creative producing, he has also honed his “left-brain” so to speak – taking on the role of Chief Financial Officer in an overseas technology company.

Now at 35 years old, he has finally swapped out virtual brushes for kitchen knives, but the post-it notes remain.

Photo courtesy of Uniqlo.
Photo courtesy of Uniqlo.

Ivan is Head Chef & Owner of The 1925 Microbrewery & Restaurant, where his hard-earned dexterity from working administrative roles in a multitude of industries now serves his business to the fullest.

“Compared to something as subjective as design, it is easier to garner appreciation with food. The results are immediately evident in the way people’s faces light up right after they taste the dish.”

Whether it was the tactical moves he had charted from day one with distribution as the end goal, or the minor day-to-day decisions at present, Chef Ivan adopts a no-nonsense approach, rooted in single-minded practicality that comes from having seen and done enough to know what works and what doesn’t – and this is seen in his choice of wardrobe.

Making Space For What Matters

Today is no different from any other work day. Chef Ivan dons his chef’s coat like the other kitchen crew, and black joggers for maximum comfort. Under, he wears an AIRism T-shirt to wick away perspiration and regulate his body temperature as he leaves and enters the kitchen repeatedly.

Photo courtesy of Uniqlo.
Photo courtesy of Uniqlo.

He attributes his belief in UNIQLO to its cutting that suits his physique, and simplicity even as the collections progress. Upon finding a fit that works for him, and in the case of AIRism, a solution that keeps him comfortable even in the heat of the kitchen, he stocks up without much hesitation.

Chef Ivan remarks that the woes of putting together an outfit daily are long gone. His wardrobe now consists of monochromic basics on rotation. The result? Shaving off minutes each day to make way for more significant decisions.

“Also, to be candid, it’s a matter of affordability. There’s no way I can find such quality for the same price.”

Going Against the Grain

Knowing the countless factors that come into play especially in the ever-evolving F&B landscape, Ivan takes no chances and stresses that hindsight is always 20/20. “From a financial standpoint, brewing with extracts made the most sense. We also had very little physical space to work with, so a full grain brewery was out of the question.”

Photo courtesy of Uniqlo.
Photo courtesy of Uniqlo.

Having withstood the uncertain introductory phase, Ivan and his uncle King Joey Yeo, who helms the brewing operations, take opinions with a pinch of salt and ally with those whom they can co-create a welcoming environment with. For him, it is all about taking a broader view; honing the qualities that matter and letting distractions fall away.

“It took us a long time of experimenting to get to where we are today, but I don’t consider this success. If you’re talking about how we had dictated certain things in the industry, I think yes, we’ve been successful.” But he emphasises that craft is ever evolving. “The thing I’m most thankful for is a team that is open to moving forward despite the occasional friction,” he motions towards a narrow, busy kitchen with servers zipping in and out.

Photo courtesy of Uniqlo.
Photo courtesy of Uniqlo.

Besides alcohol infusion, his native Teochew cuisine has been playfully woven throughout the menu, which is something no place else can emulate. Lo Bak and Bak Kut Teh may sound familiar, but when served, The 1925’s renditions look worlds apart from the traditional dishes they had been adapted from. However, staying true to the basis of sensible beer pairings, Ivan ultimately believes that putting a modern twist on a traditional dish must not be simply for the sake of doing so.

Moving forward, Ivan intends to expand the facilities having amassed a considerable line of clients who are interested in stocking The 1925’s very own brews such as Yellow Van and 6.22 Dark Ale. Although they have managed to educate consumers and shift perceptions toward craft beers, Ivan and his team continue to experiment with the consciousness that plenty more can be done to make this form of enjoyment more accessible to the curious masses.