Waking up to the earthy fumes of steamed potatoes, warm aroma of spices, and the bubbling of frying oil—these were some of Madam Yong’s fondest memories while growing up with a mother who supplied homemade curry puffs to restaurants and caterers in PJ.
As the eldest sibling in her adolescence, she felt obliged to help her late mother out. So, every morning she’d help with the baking process and cycle to nearby restaurants to deliver the fresh pastries.
Little did she know that several decades later, she’d be experiencing a similar situation with her own daughter in supplying homemade Nyonya kuih to 5-star hotels in Klang Valley.
Expanding Her Kuih Repertoire
While the humble curry puff may seem like a simple form of pastry at a glance, Yong quickly learnt that making it was a technical one, requiring power in kneading its dough and the right balance in taste.
She was in awe of her late mother’s work ethics as she tenaciously worked through the night to fulfill large orders.
Yong joked, “Which of course, I did dread and complain back then as it would mean that I would have to help her and eventually miss my favourite shows on television!”
These curry puffs were her inspiration to delve into the world of culinary arts. She later developed a passion for making Nyonya kuih when a Baba Nyonya friend introduced her to a few recipes.
So at 28, while working as a full-time accountant by day, she would also bake a couple of traditional Nyonya kuih in her PJ home for fun, catering to ad-hoc orders for parties by family and friends without expecting much in return.
5 years later, she decided to quit her job to become a full-time home baker when her daughter was born, starting the business named after herself, Madam Yong Delight.
This decision came about as she thought it would give her more flexibility to focus on her passion and spend time with her family.
That was the idea, at least. In reality, it was pretty hard to balance because in 2002, Yong had her first corporate client: a supermarket chain introduced to her by a friend.
They Just Came Knocking
Most of the time, she would bring her young daughter along on many chores from sourcing raw materials, taking customer orders, to handling deliveries.
At times, her toddler would have to wake up in the wee hours of dawn to help get the kuihs ready for deliveries.
“She literally grew up along the evolution of the venture. In hindsight, it was a good thing in a way, a real-life example that everything in life comes with hard work and determination,” said Yong in gratitude.
Servicing a corporate customer meant that Yong could no longer run her production from home as it wouldn’t have been able to cope with the demand.
With limited resources but ample support from her family, she took a leap of faith in setting up a proper production site.
Shortly after, another opportunity came knocking. A 5-star hotel in the Klang Valley had approached asking for Nyonya kuih supply.
Though overjoyed by the opportunity and the recognition of her work, deep down she was worried and unsure if she would be able to deliver.
A major challenge of this transition from being a home baker to setting up an actual company serving hotels, supermarkets, and restaurants meant that certain processes and systems had to be in place because she was now a businesswoman.
Hence, the tasks didn’t stop at just making Nyonya kuih, but overall management of the company.
That included setting up an accounting system, arranging for logistics, applying for halal certification, and adhering to food safety requirements on a larger scale.
“With the support of my long-time reliable helper who has been helping me since 1994 and still with me after 26 years, we went ahead with this opportunity,” she told Vulcan Post.
This led from one opportunity to the next, and before they knew it, Madam Yong Delight has been supplying Nyonya kuih to a chain of hotels in the Klang Valley for almost two decades now.
She Won’t Impose It On Her Daughter
When asked about her plans on passing the business to her daughter, Yong shared with Vulcan Post that she’s always believed that the next generation carrying it on must first have the passion.
“When I started the Nyonya kuih venture, my daughter was just born. So, she grew up with the evolution of the business as well. It has been part of her life but only needs to help out whenever required over the weekend.”
“Hence, I wouldn’t impose but instead leave it to my next generation to decide whether it is something they would like to pursue in the future,” Madam Yong said.
At 63, she’s hopeful about continuing to run the business for several years to come and doing the best she can in standardising operations as much as possible.
- You can learn more about Madam Yong Delight here.
- You can read more F&B articles that we’ve written here.
Featured Image Credit: Madam Yong Delight