In this article

Chee Keong had a simple reason for starting Whiskit Bakery Cafe—“I have a sweet tooth and enjoy pastries.”

Wanting to challenge himself, he took up short baking courses before realising that he’d like to pursue a career in it.

Back then, Chee Keong was in his mid-30s and had been working for a few years in the public sector. He also didn’t have many commitments yet, so he figured it was now or never.

He plucked up the courage and left his corporate job to study a Pastry Diploma course at Le Cordon Bleu in Tokyo, Japan. 

And just a few months later, he started his own pastry business that’s now almost nine years old.

Image Credit: Whiskit Bakery Cafe

Flying all the way to Tokyo to learn the craft

For those that aren’t familiar, Le Cordon Bleu is an established culinary institution. So it’s not a surprise that Chee Keong chose to enrol himself for a baking course here. 

But Singapore doesn’t have its own campus, so Chee Keong had to look for a different location.

Wanting to learn as much as possible in the shortest time frame, he opted for its Tokyo campus where students only need three months to obtain a Diploma in Patisserie. 

Image Credit: Whiskit Bakery Cafe

“It was a rather intensive course as lessons were held from around 8AM to 5PM, from Mondays to Fridays,” he explained. In the mornings, they would watch the demonstrations by chefs and have practical sessions in the afternoon.  

Once he graduated and was equipped with the know-how of baking, Chee Keong was geared up to take his first steps into entrepreneurship.

Image Credit: Whiskit Bakery Cafe

Focusing on their USP since the start

Whiskit Bakery Cafe (previously known as Whiskit Patisserie) started out as a home-based business.

And as an F&B brand, competition was tight. The founder shared that it was particularly challenging to initially get their name known. 

So to improve his chances, Chee Keong chose to focus more on tarts, creating locally inspired flavours to cater to a Singaporean audience. 

Image Credit: Whiskit Bakery Cafe

“We pride ourselves [on being] probably the only bakery selling Ondeh Tarts [with] real ondeh-ondeh sitting on top of home-cooked pandan kaya and orh nee (yam) paste,” he expressed. “They’re pretty time-consuming to make as we prepare all the ingredients from scratch.”

“Since the start, infusing local flavours into our French Tarts has been our unique selling point. Tarts are very versatile and you can have endless possibilities for the flavours.”

With the support of family and friends, the business began picking up through word of mouth. Not long after, the founder managed to open up his first physical store in Kallang Bahru.

Image Credit: Whiskit Bakery Cafe

Going through one hurdle after the other

Being a one-man show at the time, the store at Kallang Bahru kept Chee Keong busy.

Sometimes, he would even sleep in the shop during festive periods to keep up with demands, baking well into the wee hours of the night. 

It was a good starting point to expand the business, since a physical shop attracted more eyeballs. But the space was small and eventually couldn’t contain the plans he had for the brand. 

Image Credit: Whiskit Bakery Cafe

Partnering with a friend, Chee Keong moved into a bigger shop and expanded the baking business into a cafe. 

But this gave rise to another issue. Being at Upper Cross Street, he explained that they faced many challenges from inadequate footfall. Much of this was attributed to the store’s visibility (or lack thereof, to be specific).

To solve this, the duo branched out and joined pop-up events to sell pastries. Then COVID reached their shores and they come up with pastry dessert boxes. This was credited it as the main reason they survived the pandemic.

Adapting to stay relevant in the game

Image Credit: Whiskit Bakery Cafe

Finally, when the lease at Upper Cross Street was up, Whiskit Bakery Cafe uprooted and moved to its present location at Biopolis.

Chee Keong also expanded his team to reflect this new beginning. At the moment, there are five staff members juggling between brewing coffee, baking the pastries, and attending to customers.

The shift in location also meant a growth in menu offerings. Beyond baked goods, they now also serve simple mains like nasi lemak and salted egg chicken to meet lunch crowds.

Image Credit: Whiskit Bakery Cafe

“Change is the only constant in the F&B industry,” Chee Keong lamented. “In order to survive, you would need to look at your surroundings and the demographics of your customers.” 

In Whiskit Bakery Cafe’s case, the traffic in Biopolis mostly consists of office workers. And in his view, it’s not sustainable to only serve baked treats as people can’t eat pastries all day.

This way, the cafe has more visitors and it increases the awareness of Whiskit Bakery Cafe’s pastries to new customers.

Image Credit: Whiskit Bakery Cafe

Building up his dream at a steady pace

It’s been close to a decade since Whiskit Bakery Cafe was opened and Chee Keong became an entrepreneur.

Now aged 45, the National University of Singapore (NUS) graduate shared that there are still many plans in store for the brand. The expansion into the cafe and its savoury menu are just the start of a few ideas he has.

Without disclosing too much, he shared that they’re looking into growing the pastry options as well. This time, they’re focus on French pastries as they’re a personal favourite of Chee Keong’s. 

Image Credit: Whiskit Bakery Cafe

Though loyal customers can rest easy knowing that the brand’s popular Ondeh Tarts would probably remain untouched. 

After all, according to Chee Keong, “We’ve received many positive feedback on the tarts and have many recurring customers who repeatedly purchase them for events and celebrations.” 

The overall goal for him is to provide customers with more varied products, which would hopefully boost their ability to open a new outlet soon.

  • Learn more about Whiskit Bakery Cafe here.
  • Read other articles we’ve written about startups here.

Featured Image Credit: Whiskit Bakery Cafe

Subscribe to our newsletter

Stay updated with Vulcan Post weekly curated news and updates.


Vulcan Post aims to be the knowledge hub of Singapore and Malaysia.

© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)

Vulcan Post aims to be the knowledge hub of Singapore and Malaysia.

© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)