OUR BUSIEST OUTLETS are packed into the central business district (CBD). It’s where our quick service Bakery Cafés are well-positioned to offer you a healthy fare of sandwiches, design-your-own salads and soups to feed you throughout the day. As we commemorate our 20th year, we celebrate the people whose hands have made your experience at our CBD outlets a breeze.
How long have you worked in Cedele?
It’ll be 10 years this July. I started out as a sandwich maker in our Novena Square outlet.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
Probably the morning rush and making sure everything gets done and is ready for lunch.
How would people describe your working style?
People don’t usually know that I can be quite fierce, especially when training staff. I feel like once I’ve committed to something I must do my best for it.
What’s your impression of Ms Cheng?
She’s a very successful entrepreneur and is also great with customers.
Ting Leong Yew
How long have you been working at Cedele?
I’ve been working at Cedele for about 5 years. I actually started as a baker in the Central Kitchen, before transferring to the front line.
What is the best thing about working in Cedele?
I love the brand and the food. But more importantly, the teamwork here is not easy to get anywhere else.
How has working here changed you?
I used to be really hot tempered, but I think my temperament has changed over the years. I’ve learnt to seek out solutions instead of finding fault with people.
I’m extremely grateful that the bosses gave me the opportunity to start working in the service line, even though I had no prior experience.
Share a good memory of your time here.
Setting up our Star Vista outlet was quite a crazy and stressful time. It was just me and another colleague managing the new store. I was handling the queue, the cashier point and the bar all at once. I had to ask the other store managers for help – calling them to come over to help me after their shifts. It was tough but it made me realize how resilient I need to be when working in this industry.
As an Area Manager, do you have a favourite outlet?
I have a soft spot for our City Square branch (although it isn’t under my authority). I worked there for 1½ years and developed quite a good relationship with the landlord and regular customers.
When did you join Cedele?
I started in the company in 2002. It’s been 15 years!
What are your favourite Cedele foods?
I really like our Rosemary Chicken sandwich and our Red Velvet cake.
As someone doing store development, what exactly do you do?
I ensure that the bosses’ ideas for new stores come to pass, by working with contractors and other suppliers to set up a store. Other than opening stores, I also look into set up, maintenance and service.
What do you like best about working at Cedele?
There are always different challenges to overcome and new skills to learn. When I first started I was inexperienced, starting as a server in the outlet. Now I’m handling Store Development and even working on the outlets in Hong Kong. I’m thankful for how the bosses provide opportunities for growth.
How long have you worked here?
Twelve years. I remember my first day when I started in 2005. I underwent training at Frankel before going to our Great World City outlet in the afternoon to learn about our food and beverages.
Do you have a favourite Cedele cake?
I really like our Apple Nut Cheesecake, unfortunately it isn’t available at our stores anymore.
What do you like best about your work?
In the front line, we get to interact with customers from so many of walks of life. This interaction with customers and colleagues has taught me more about the world we live in.
How has working here changed you over the years?
Personally, I feel like I have mellowed over the years. I used to be quick tempered but I realise that when dealing with a younger staff, a firm stance doesn’t always work. Being in the F&B industry has also made me more aware of the food I buy and consume.
In your 12 years here, what are you most proud of?
I’m happy to have successfully set up some stores. I am also proud to pass on what I have learnt to new staff. Whatever I know, I give them. Training is like passing on the baton to the next generation.
Share 3 words to describe Ms Cheng.
She is attentive, energetic and an innovative cook.
EVERY SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS is built upon a solid foundation paved by its people who have toiled day in, day out. At the core of Cedele, we believe in feeding people well. As we turn 20 this July, we want to share the limelight with our daily heroes who have made the business of feeding people a dream come true. Discover the different pairs of hands who have contributed to this reality and join us in celebrating their hard work to mark this milestone.
(L to R: Ko Khan Yeng and Lim Tian Seng, Junior Sous Chefs in the cake department)
[On how a typical day in the cake department is like]:
"We create many, many cakes a day.
Ko Khan Yeng
How long have you worked here and what attracted you to this job?
I have been here for 6 years. Cedele’s ethos for healthier food options was one reason why I joined the company.
What have you gained from your time in Cedele?
A second family! It’s like a family environment here. I’ve also learnt skills like how to manage a team, and have also grown personally, character-wise. And of course, I’ve learnt a healthier way of baking.
Which cakes are you most proud of?
The Christmas log cakes. It’s a time for me to brainstorm with Ms Cheng and be innovative when making decisions with regards to the flavours for the year.
Share something that people don’t know about you.
Before baking, I did some farming back in Malaysia. I was in charge of digging up sweet potatoes.
Lim Tian Seng
What good memories do you savour of your time in Cedele?
I’ve only been here 2 years but I will always remember my colleagues, how we worked and fought battles together.
What’s your favourite Cedele cake?
I really like our Chocolate Banana Espresso cake. [Click here to watch Ah Lim put finishing touches on this cake!]
Is there a busy period in the year?
Yes! Christmas season is the most challenging period because we get lots of orders and the cakes are usually more complex to make.
How have you grown into your role as a Junior Sous Chef in the cake department?
I’ve become more effective in managing the department and handling the more administrative stuff like scheduling.
How long have you been working here?
I have been here for 12 years, but I’ve been a baker for over 20 years.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Honestly, I like the challenge. I also like when I work with Ms Cheng to come up with the new breads.
How is a typical day in the bread department like and when is the busiest period in the year?
Because of the amount of bread we produce daily, the team makes them in two shifts. Easter is our busiest period of the year because we are constantly producing hot cross buns to meet the demand.
What have you learnt from your time at Cedele?
It’s important to stay humble. If you’re managing a team, you need to set an example for them to follow.
How was your first day of work at Cedele?
I actually started as a baker in Cedele, 14 years ago. I spent 3 months working in the bread department before moving on to the hot kitchen.
How have you changed since you started working here?
I came in as a blank slate, not knowing any skills. I’ve learnt a lot in my time here. I still remember the first soup I learnt to cook was our Mushroom soup. [Click here to watch Connie prepare some mushroom soup!]
Which product are you especially proud of?
Actually I’m proud of how far our Chinese New Year Pineapple Pockets have come. The demand for it has multiplied since when we first started. It’s so satisfying!
Share some good memories you’ve had of your time here.
It’s been exciting to work with Ms Cheng over the years. When I started out, there were less outlets and she would be the one teaching me recipes in the kitchen. She also knows when to have fun, and how to appreciate her workers after a particularly tough period of work.
How would you describe Ms Cheng?
She is accommodating and encourages growth. She even attended when I graduated with a diploma in Baking years ago.
“It’s quite amazing to think that all that Ms Cheng dreamed of for Cedele years ago has come true!”
Mizan Abd. Jalil
How was your first day at Cedele?
I started as a kitchen helper 17 years ago, making salads for 3 outlets. Then there was less than 10 staff members in the company.
What’s the best thing about working at Cedele?
The flexible working hours and a good boss who is considerate. Ms Cheng even visited my husband when he was in the hospital.
Share a good memory of working in Cedele.
Back when there was much less staff in Cedele, I would cook lunch (Mee Rebus, Mee Siam, Rendang etc.) every day for everyone.
Share something people don’t know about you.
Before working at Cedele, I worked as a machinist at Singapore Aerospace Manufacturing for 7 years.
"I am also proud of this sandwich [Rosemary Chicken] because when it was first introduced in 1999 in the CBD area, many of the sandwiches available then were mostly processed. But ours was and continues to be made from scratch, using a rather long process. I’m thankful and proud of our team for having the patience and integrity to continue making it this way."
This month marks the 20th year since our founder, Ms Yeap Cheng Guat started The Bakery Depot along Upper East Coast road. What began as a simple desire to make honest food has turned into a fulfilling journey of creating nourishing eats for your wellbeing.
To celebrate this exciting journey, we're zooming in on the people who make Cedele what it is today. We're taking a look at the hands that feed you. First, we sit down with our founder, affectionately know to most as Ms Cheng, to understand what inspired Cedele and what she envisions for the future.
Before you started The Bakery Depot [Cedele’s first outlet], you were working in MNCs. What inspired you to start working in the food industry and eventually set up Cedele?
Since my college days in the US, I was always cooking or baking for my friends. I’d make shortbread and eggrolls to sell on the side for some extra money. Or we’d have warm steamboat in the cold winter nights. Even when I started working, I’d bake brownies or cookies for my colleagues and they would comment that I should start a bakery.
One colleague in particular stuck a post-it note on my desk when he was going away for a short holiday. It said "The best ideas are in the graveyard, so don’t keep yours there." That gave me a much needed push to be brave and follow my dreams to open a bakery.
What has been the greatest challenge in starting and running Cedele?
Honestly, I find the greatest challenge over the years has been to collect a group of people who can work together and run the business coherently. The team we currently have is very special to me. Many of them have been with Cedele for many years. I hope that working with us through the years would give them positive attitudes to life.
If you could pick one Cedele dish you are most proud of, what would it be?
[Laughs] This is such a difficult question! I think it will be our Rosemary Chicken Sandwich. I came up with the recipe around Christmas and was inspired by the flavours common to Thanksgiving in the States. I am also proud of this sandwich because when it was first introduced in 1999 in the CBD area, many of the sandwiches available then were mostly processed. But ours was and continues to be made from scratch, using a rather long process. I’m thankful and proud of our team for having the patience and integrity to continue making it this way. The sandwich is single-minded in flavour and exemplifies what real food is all about.
What is one lesson you’ve learnt from running Cedele?
In the many years of running Cedele, one of the greatest lessons I've learnt has been to listen. Through the years I have met many amazing people, many of whom have indirectly become my life coaches. Some have taught me about business, about managing my emotions and even encouraged me to go against the grain and pursue my dream. I am extremely grateful to each one of them. They have taught me about life and have inspired me to live by these words: "be kind and help others".
Where do you draw inspiration for new products/food? Any culinary inspirations?
Inspiration is infinite, it’s really everywhere. Since the early years of Cedele, I have been drawing inspiration from my interaction with customers. But specifically, I find myself drawn to personal stories about food that people prepare from the heart. It can be a home baker’s blog or a cookbook that explains the coming together of different cultures and flavours. I believe food is meant to communicate oneness.
[What about chefs who inspire you?] Oh, I really admire Nigel Slater. I think I have all his books. I would really love to cook for him one day.
What are your future dreams for Cedele?
I hope that Cedele will become synonymous with eating healthier and taking care of oneself. For 20 years I have promised myself that what we serve must be as good as how I would feed my own family and friends. We want to continue upholding that in the future, to be cooking and respecting food as it should be enjoyed and eaten.
Want to go behind the scenes? We find out some kitchen secrets chatting with the people behind all that moreish goodness at Cedele.