Gourmet Burgers with Love

Yummy and healthy in-house burgers from Head Chef Sarah Lin's Carvers and Wolf Burgers have tickled Singaporeans' palate in a big way

The Womenz had an opportunity to interact with Ms. Sarah Lin, Founder &  Head Chef, Carvers &  Co. / Wolf Burgers, Singapore and here’s what she shared with us

Can you please tell us something about you, your education etc.?

I studied sports science in school. I taught Pilates and Gyrotonic at different studios in Singapore for 8 years. Never went to culinary school. Love to travel and experience the culture of different cities. 

Do you love cooking?  How you developed this hobby?

 Yes, I did. We used to go to my grandmother's house once a week every Monday for a home cooked meal that we looked forward to all week. That fuelled my interest in cooking and creating big, family meals. The hobby became more serious when my husband and I honeymooned in Southern Italy. Unlike conventional tourist-like holidays, we stayed with a lovely family on a farm for two weeks. They had a small kitchen and a restaurant on the land and everything from their vegetable garden was used in their menu. The meals were so tasty we didn't even realise that we ate vegetarian 90 percent of the time! I wanted to stay on longer when the two weeks were up so I hung around for another month learning cooking the Italian mama who owns the farm.

 When we got back from Italy, I started a supperclub out of my house where people paid what they wanted and tucked into big, hearty meals. 

What made you to start Carvers & Co ?

 My husband who was a real estate agent at the time got a call from the owner of the shophouse on East Coast Road. He needed a tenant because the current one was going out of business. We went to check out the shop and realized he was in a difficult situation and was eager for us to takeover for a very low price. We called in our good friend of 10 years, Song, who currently leads our company, to ask him his opinion. He saw it as a good opportunity and here we are!

 



Did you have any previous experience in restaurants and hospitality before Carvers & Co?

I had very little experience working in a proper kitchen. Growing up I part-timed at restaurants and bars but that was the extent of my experience in hospitality.  

 

Your initial journey/struggle and motivation to scale this far?
Learning how to grit my teeth and endure the daily grind of running Carvers. I also knew next to nothing about the business aspect of keeping a restaurant business alive but I learnt a lot along the way from my business partners, my staff and other people who have supported me thus far.  

 

As a women, did you face any hurdles in your journey so far?  If yes, how you faced & conquered them? 

Yes, this struggle comes up every time, especially in the kitchen. In the past, we've hired male kitchen staff that found it really hard to take instructions from me, a female head chef who didn't go to culinary school and didn't have much experience running a restaurant. I realized that my insecurities would only destroy what I was trying to build. I had to show them that I was confident of my decisions and actions in order to earn their respect. 

 

Did you get the right staff at the beginning?

No, it was hard to find the right staff who would work for us not knowing if we would succeed in the business. It would have taken a leap of faith on their part to commit to us as we were a brand new restaurant with no track record. However, there were handfuls that trusted us and are still with us today. 


(L-R) Sarah & Wen leading the Carvers & Co 

 

How you manage to keep the taste intact?

When we started, I knew nothing about processes so it was hard to keep the flavors consistent when I wasn't in the kitchen. I learnt, painfully, that I had to put down specific processes in order for other cooks or chefs in the kitchen to be able to replicate the dishes. 

 

What are the USP’s of Carvers & Co?

Carvers has a lot of character. It has warmth that people like. It is the sum of its parts-the floor staff, the kitchen staff, the ambience of the shop and the food that we create. It is not pretentious or fancy but sincere and real. Some of our regulars come every day because they feel like it is a place they can come as they are and not be judged. 


Sarah in action

 

Any special dish you offer which is popular now in Singapore?

 We make our own burgers at Carvers that are very popular. It has been named as one of the top three burgers in Singapore in a burger challenge. We make a mean classic burger served with homemade ketchup and a Wagyu burger made with real wagyu meat in the patty.

 

Your further growth plans for the year and coming years?

 Our company started a burger stall in Nov 2015 called Wolf Burgers after the launch of our burgers at Carvers took off. Wolf sells a simpler version of the gourmet burger that we do at Carvers at a price point that is very attractive to the consumers. For SGD$9.90, people get a satisfying burger with a beef patty that we make in-house every day, melted cheese and fresh lettuce and tomatoes to balance the richness of it. We are currently setting up our second Wolf at Changi City Point. It is our first stand-alone store. Apart from our popular burgers, we will also want to offer healthier options like a burger wrap and a veggie bowl where people can have everything in the burgers on top of a bed of vegetables so they can have their cake and eat it too!

We will also be selling gourmet coffee, waffles and desserts. 

In the third quarter of 2017, we will be opening our third Wolf in the central business district. 

The long-term plan is to bring Wolf to the SEA region and perhaps, beyond!

 
 The team Carvers & Co

What is your biggest achievement so far? 
It's running a business with my husband of five years and not getting divorced yet!

 

Any message to aspiring female entrepreneurs out there who are struggling to prove themselves? 

Accept that starting a business is never an easy ride and that is full of difficult situations and sleepless nights. Bear down and embrace the suck.  

 

We The Womenz team thank her for her sharing her story with us. We are sure that her story will certainly inspire our readers.

 

Sarah can be reached on twitter, Facebook

First Published: 09-Apr-2017- 17:27


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