Airbnb boss shows he has mad skills in making soon kueh

Tay Hui Zhen
14 March 2017

One's a young billionaire with a multi-national company that's synonymous with couch surfing while the other runs a handmade soon kueh stall at Jalan Besar.

But their paths crossed on Monday (March 13) afternoon when Mr Nick Soon, owner of One Kueh At A Time at Berseh Food Centre, found himself giving Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia tips on making the turnip dumplings.

And as it turned out, Mr Soon was surprised to see Mr Gebbia churning out soon kuehs that looked almost as good as the ones he lovingly makes by hand.

"I asked him whether it was his first time making soon kueh. Apparently, it was," Mr Soon told AsiaOne in a phone interview on Tuesday (March 14).

He and Mr Gebbia, who is also Airbnb's chief product officer, were making soon kueh together with five others as part of a promotional event at the food centre.

Mr Soon said he was impressed by Mr Gebbia's first-time attempt as he was game to try new things and learned quickly.

Mr Gebbia even hoped to churn out 100 soon kueh, which he enjoyed, for his own staff but they couldn't do so due to time constraints.

Mr Gebbia is in town to launch Singapore's version of Airbnb Trips, which lets users book a local experience on top of a place to stay. 

Mr Soon's stall, One Kueh At A Time, is one of the 10 experience hosts in Singapore. 

A three-hour hands-on session at his stall costs $88 but Mr Soon does not know how much of the fee he will get to keep. 

"We were so excited to be part of this programme which puts us on the world map, we forgot to ask about the commission," he said. (Airbnb later clarified that experience hosts get a cut of 80 per cent.) 

Other experiences include a trip to Thow Kwang Pottery, one of the few pottery shops left in Singapore which still use dragon kilns fired by wood instead of gas or electricity. 

Launched in Los Angeles last November, Airbnb Trips is also available in 13 other cities, including Bangkok, Sydney and Tokyo.