F&B

M’sian Comedian Joanne Kam Isn’t “Crackling” Jokes When It Comes To Her Roast Pork Biz

I believe anyone who says they have made it hasn’t really MADE IT. Life is a continuation of success and as long as we are satisfied with the outcome, we should persevere to do it with the best of our abilities.

Joanne Kam, comedian and chef behind Poh Poh’s Crack.

That was what local comedian Joanne Kam said when asked about whether or not she plans to keep growing her side business, Poh Poh’s Crack.

It started as a way to sustain the entertainer over the MCO when many of her shows and projects were cancelled.

These shows and events amounted to 80% of her salary and livelihood.

Losing them meant that there was no income to pay off bills, rent, and groceries in the home she shares with her daughter.

“I am a single mother so I am the sole breadwinner for us,” she said.

“Even though Facebook live shows kept us entertainers creatively sane and we were getting new audiences, it still wasn’t generating income.”

After dwelling for a month with no income, no one to rely on, and no news of the lockdown turning the page, she decided to start this venture and sell her weekend roast pork. 

It’s one that she hopes to build a permanent space for and maybe even develop into a franchise.

Unleashing Her Roasting Skills

The cheeky name comes from her humour’s risque style and character. 

She explains, “My Chinese name is Poh Poh and Crack represents my pork crackling because when you eat it, it gives off a crackling sound.”

This roast pork of hers was a speciality she reserved for family and friends who’d go over to her place for Chinese New Year reunion dinners.

Her skills in making roast pork were collated through plenty of trial and error with different recipes and temperatures to perfect its crackling skin.

She’s tested out different recipes to perfect its crackling skin / Image Credit: Joanne Kam

She posted a picture of it on her personal Facebook account, which led friends and fans to share it too.

The pork sold out the first weekend she started the venture, and 6 subsequent weeks after that. There were no signs of slowing down.

“I think the factor for this was that the crack (siew yoke) was good. Also, my pork belly was from a certain supplier which may be a bit more pricey but there is no smell and tangy aftertaste which some pork belly has,” she said. 

She stated that the cost of ingredients are up to 35% of her roast pork’s selling price, which is RM100 for 1kg and RM50 for 500 grams.

It’s As Addicting As The Drug

The online spread of her roast pork caught the attention of Malay Mail who covered her story which then led to more online coverage from other publications, including one in Singapore.

“Through those articles, it brought in a client who wanted me to do a show for them based on the theme, Pok Pok Choi night,” she said.

This show was where Joanne and 2 other comedians performed their stand ups and music. Customers who attended the performance were served with Poh Poh’s Crack siew yoke.

In August, she was also offered a space in PUBLIKA’s ASLI Festival. 

It would be Joanne’s first time serving at a food festival.

Although she’d have to do everything from prepping her food to serving them all on her own, she was excited to take on the challenge.

The roast pork buns were first debuted at the ASLI Festival / Image Credit: Joanne Kam

She even expanded her product offerings for the festival.

Poh Poh’s Crack Buns, sold at RM20 per piece, were her roast pork nestled inside a charcoal or regular sesame bun. 

The buns are paired with 4 different kinds of sauces, which were collaborative efforts with her entertainer friend, Kelly Siew’s Chillie Lard and Saucelabmy, whom we’ve previously written about.

Being the only stall in the festival selling pork products, her roast pork buns would sell out 4 hours before the festival ended at 10PM. 

This was a consistent pattern for all 5 days she was selling there.

“There was one customer that came back 3 days in a row and bought 10 buns each,” she added. 

Based on how addicting her food seems to be, it’s safe to say that the “Crack” in its name could serve a double meaning.

Plenty On Her Plate

Now that she’s successfully running her side business, Joanne has no plans of slowing down. 

She’s looking to do it all and already has plans for it for next year. 

The comedian and now roast pork connoisseur will be performing and producing shows, while also developing Poh Poh’s Crack into a fully-fledged business. 

Appearing alongside Bob Adnin on his show, Chef Bob Cooking / Image Credit: Joanne Kam

“How will I balance that? Well, I guess that’s when I will start to hire more help and expand,” she said.

Joanne credits her determination to the validation she received by selling out her roast pork every weekend and at the ASLI Festival. 

“What’s kept me going is the fact that I do not have anything to fall back on. I have no husband, no parents, nobody,” she said. 

“If I don’t survive, what will happen to my daughter? She’s my driving force to not cave in but to just to go out there and to keep on hustling.”

Joanne is proving her ability not just to sell out tickets to her live shows, but her culinary skills too.

  • You can find out more about Joanne Kam here.
  • You can read about other Malaysian startups here.

Featured Image Credit: Joanne Kam, comedian and chef behind Poh Poh’s Crack.

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