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By Foo Jie Ying
The New Paper
Feb 4. 2017
Mr Derrick Lee's relatives became concerned when he decided to quit his job in the oil and gas industry to become a hawker.
They thought being a hawker was not something to be proud of - a common misconception, Mr Lee, 31, told The New Paper.
But that did not deter the National University of Singapore business graduate from signing up for Fei Siong Food Management's hawker training programme in 2015.
"My family does not run a food and beverage business, and it is difficult to break into the industry just like that.
"I could join a restaurant as a waiter, then slowly join the kitchen staff. But since (Fei Siong) was keen to accept apprentices, why not?" he said.
He learnt from veteran hawker Foo Joon Khoon, who shared his wealth of experience.
Today, Mr Lee runs Ah Khoon Authentic Hainanese Chicken Rice with the help of two full-timers - one of them being Mr Foo - and a part-timer. It is one of the 40 cooked food stalls at Ci Yuan Hawker Centre in Hougang.
"Although (Mr Foo) is my employee, he is also my mentor who continues to guide me, so it is a balancing act.
"Luckily, we share quite a good chemistry. When I look at him now, I see a little of my father in him," Mr Lee said.
His stall will turn two in November.
"It is tiring, and I have to sacrifice a lot of personal time, but I get more money and satisfaction than what I would as an employee," he said, adding that he has plans to expand his business.