Entrepreneur

Singer-Actor Taufik Batisah Spreads His 'Wings' Into F&B With A Halal Spicy Fried Chicken Joint In S'pore

It’s not uncommon nowadays for celebrities or famous personalities to be entrepreneurs and dabble into the F&B industry.

So far, we’ve featured serial entrepreneur Daniel Ong, social media influencer Bong Qiu Qiu’s cereal cafe, as well as local actress’ Cheryl Chin’s food truck business in the United States.

Most recently, first-ever Singapore Idol winner Taufik Batisah also started up his own F&B business with the opening of a halal Nashville-style fried chicken joint in the heart of Bugis, Jalan Pisang.

Together with his best friend Ismail Rawi Bober, the duo pumped in a substantial sum of their savings to start up Chix Hot Chicken.

The two met at the gym over a decade ago and their friendship blossomed over the years to be the business partners they are today.

“We’ve always thought about doing business together, but needed the right concept to execute,” revealed Ismail.

He added that he got the inspiration to start up after returning from a family holiday to his stepdad’s hometown in Louisiana back in 2013.

“I was fascinated by the southern hospitality and the food I experienced while I was there, especially their fried chicken.”

He also found their cooking spicy, which he particularly enjoyed. From there, he figured that a spicy fried chicken joint would be right up most Singaporeans’ alley.

From One Fried Chicken Joint To Another

ismail rawi bober - chix hot chicken
Ismail Bober, co-founder of Chix Hot Chicken / Image Credit: Chix Hot Chicken

Ismail has always been into cooking since young, and is an ardent fan of Jamie Oliver’s ‘The Naked Chef’ TV series.

His love for cooking prompted him to study Culinary Skills at Singapore Hotel and Tourism Education Centre (SHATEC).

With his culinary background, he set up a New Orleans-style restaurant and bar at Duxton Road called Life Is Beautiful.

It’s popular for its buttermilk fried chicken and “had a good run”, but Ismail decided to close it down because he wanted to pursue his original idea: a halal Southern fried chicken eatery.

He figured that there’s no other better person to do it with besides his best friend, Taufik Batisah, who is a self-professed fried chicken lover.

So when Ismail shared the business idea with him, he was immediately sold.

“Initially, we were unable to move forward with the concept due to timing and my work commitments, so we had to put the idea on the back burner,” said Taufik.

“Fast forward to January 2018, we finally got this brand up and running – it was worth the wait.”

Their Chickens Can Make A Grown Man Cry

But with the proliferation of fried chicken joints in Singapore, Taufik and Ismail both knew that they had to differentiate themselves.

“Singaporeans are pretty used to sauce-based spicy chicken, and we wanted ours to be unique. With our Nashville-style hot chicken, you get to choose your spice level – from mild, extra, to insane hotness,” said Ismail.

He added that he got the idea of Nashville-style hot chicken after watching an episode of the late Anthony Bourdain’s ‘Parts Unknown’ a few years ago.

“I traveled to Nashville to try the famous dish and I fell in love with it.”

chix hot chicken
Image Credit: Chix Hot Chicken

“We brought the idea back and started playing with our dry rub that we sprinkle on our fried chicken along with herbs, spices and the world’s hottest peppers such as Ghost Pepper and Carolina Reaper to bring a different kind of heat and flavour to Singapore.”

To put things into perspective, the Ghost Pepper is rated at more than 1 million Scoville Heat Units (SHUs), enough to make a grown man cry.

chix hot chicken chef
Their resident chef preparing the hot sauce / Image Credit: Chix Hot Chicken

Ismail can attest to its fiery heat: “In the past two weeks, I have [also] seen people hallucinating and talking to themselves after eating it.”

“You’ve been warned,” he said with a chuckle.

For those who can’t handle the heat, you can try their buttermilk fried chicken instead, which is made from a mixture of spices from New Orleans.

Their version of buttermilk fried chicken is different from Ismail’s former eatery, who said that Chix Hot Chicken’s is “definitely different and better”.

Taufik Admits It’s Okay To Lend His Name To The Business

Taufik has been a musician-cum-actor for the past 14 years, and Chix Hot Chicken marks his first foray into the F&B industry.

“There’s a steep learning curve [but] Chix Hot Chicken is a concept that I truly believe in. I look forward to studying the business and working with Ismail and our team to grow our brand,” said the greenhorn.

As the more experienced one out of the two, Ismail oversees the day-to-day operations of the business while Taufik handles the marketing aspect.

By “marketing”, does this refer to flaunting your face and/or name to help boost sales?

“You’re half-right,” he said with a laugh. “If I can help to boost sales in any way at our initial stage, it’s a bonus for us.”

“The reality is, there wasn’t any room for slacking. Our team were knee-deep in the process of planning, branding, and setting up Chix Hot Chicken.”

“At the end of the day, it takes a team to make it work, and everyone plays a vital role for us to succeed.”

Other than leveraging on Taufik’s celebrity status, the duo also utilise social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook as part of their marketing efforts.

It definitely paid off, for it received a huge fanfare during the two-week soft launch.

As they officially opened doors to the public yesterday (June 18), Taufik promises that they will never compromise on the brand’s quality and customer service, no matter how busy it gets.

“Every visit to Chix Hot Chicken should be a memorable and fun experience. With this, we hope that people will keep coming back and share it [their experience] with their family and friends.”

He added that as the brand is still in its infancy stages, there are still “many avenues and platforms [that they] wish to explore”.

chix hot chicken store
Chix Hot Chicken exterior / Image Credit: Chix Hot Chicken

“We want Chix Hot Chicken to not just be about food, but also part of a lifestyle. We plan to introduce merchandise, events at our shop, and other fun ideas to continually grow our brand with our customers.”

That said, a chance for Taufik to host a concert-cum-performance at the store is not totally impossible. They could perhaps close off the streets outside their store, provided that they can get an approval from the relevant authorities, mused Ismail.

If you would like to try out their fiery creations, you can visit their store here:

Chix Hot Chicken
1 Jalan Pisang
Opens Tuesday to Saturday, 11.30am to 9.30pm (or until sold out!)

Featured Image Credit: Chix Hot Chicken

 

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