What were you doing when you were 10-years-old?
For me, I was a Primary 4 student, still very much sheltered and oblivious to what was happening around me.
For Phoebe Lim, however, she has already raised over $5k to help cancer-stricken hawker Mr Tan Boon Teck, the son of Mr Tan Chong Chia, the founder of Armenian Street Char Kway Teow.
And she did it all by selling bottles of homemade chilli.
An Aspiring Chef With A Cause
Earlier this month, Mr Tan, 49, made the news when he announced that he would be teaching willing parties how to cook their famed char kway teow for a negotiable starting price of $10,000.
But it’s not because he wanted to open another channel of income – he’s doing it in hopes that those who learn the skills would open another stall under the family’s brand name, because he was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer in May.
He hopes that the offer would also help to raise some funds for his cancer treatment.
This caught the attention of Makansutra founder KF Seetoh, who appealed to his followers to help out where they could:
This also caught the attention of Mr Joshua Lim, father of 10-year-old Phoebe Lim, who promptly asked his daughter if she wanted to help out.
An aspiring chef and cooking enthusiast (she’s also a painter), Phoebe promptly agreed, deciding to sell her homemade chilli to help contribute to the cause.
But why choose to take the fundraising route more tedious?
Chopping, cooking, and bottling chilli is no easy feat – all the more so for a 10-year-old.
“I like cooking, so I wanted to sell my chilli to raise funds to help him. I started cooking eggs and pancakes when I was 5 or 6-years-old, and from then on I started to love cooking,” she told us in an interview.
A quick look through her Facebook account reveals photos and videos taken by the young chef and her creations, and also photos with hawkers and prominent figures in the Singapore food scene – one of whom is founder of Eighteen Chefs, Chef Benny Se Teo.
It was also from Chef Se Teo that Phoebe learnt how to make her homemade chilli.
“When I was younger I liked to go to his restaurant to eat, and then we become good friends. When Uncle Benny knew that I loved to cook, he started to teach me, and gave me recipes to learn…so that’s where I learnt how to cook from him.”
A few days after the appeal, she took to Facebook to promote her humble efforts, and was met with more support than she expected – some even buying over 10 bottles of her homemade chilli.
But due to demand soaring beyond what she could handle, she closed sales for the first batch 4 days after the post.
“I have sold 346 bottles for the first batch! I’m very thankful for all the Uncles, Aunties, Kor Kors and Jie Jies that supported me to help raise funds for Uncle Tan…”
Orders for the second batch are already taking place, and she revealed that she’s actually spending the whole of today to cook her chilli!
She is also quick to credit the hawkers who have helped her in her project:
“[I want to thank] Uncle Wayne from KEK Seafood, because he let me use his kitchen to cook the chilli, and he also sponsored the chilli bottles, ingredients and the labels for the chilli. Also, Uncle Melvin from Jin Ji Teochew Braised Duck & Kway Chap and Kor Kor Kai Chun of Good Chance Popiah Eating House (for their help).”
Using What She Knows To Help More People
Wise beyond her years, Phoebe reveals her wish to help even more people with her cooking and painting skills.
“There are so many people who are less fortunate than us, so we need to do whatever we can to help them.”
An aspiring chef with a dream to “own many restaurants”, she also wants to use what she knows and has to help even more people in need.
She also hopes that younger Singaporeans would appreciate local hawkers and the hard work that they go through:
“I hope that more people will learn to appreciate hawker food, and know the struggles that the hawkers are going through. It’s not easy to prepare a bowl of fishball noodles, prawn noodles, or braised duck. The hawkers put in a lot of time and effort to cook.”
“We must appreciate them for their hard work.”
Interested in trying out Phoebe’s homemade chilli and supporting Mr Tan? Order a bottle (or 10) then!
Douglas Ng from Fishball Story and a few other stores are also running a charity event to raise funds for Mr Tan, so check it out here.