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As a kid, Daniel always hoped that he would take over his family’s confectionary business. He had big dreams and an even bigger vision on how to grow their brand, Seng Choong. 

So in 1995, he converted the shop located in Marine Parade into the bakery’s retail arm, supplying frozen bread dough to restaurants and hotels. It served as a central kitchen of sorts. 

Unfortunately, Daniel’s vision seemed to be ahead of its time. Poor sales and a heavy investment in high-end baking equipment led to the store’s closure within a year. He had to sell it off to settle part of his debts.

“I was arrogant and didn’t follow my father’s advice to expand the business slowly,” he told Her World in 2016. It was “the worst time of his life”, he described in that interview.

Image Credit: Old Seng Choong

But Daniel didn’t let that stop him from pursuing his baking dreams. He later took on a pastry job at Les Amis, a French fine dining restaurant, while selling home-baked Oreo cheesecakes on the side. These efforts allowed him to pay off the remainder of his debts. 

At the end of 1997, he left Les Amis to open Baker’s Inn which later turned into the popular patisserie-cafe chain Bakerzin. Daniel stayed at its helm until he sold the brand in 2007, then started Foodgnostic shortly after, a company providing R&D and food supply services.

All the while, though, he never forgot about his original childhood ambition. So taking the chance to make his dad proud while he was still around, Daniel reopened the family business in 2016 with a new name and a modern spin.

Image Credit: Old Seng Choong

That’s how Old Seng Choong came about.

A mix of the East and the West

Dubbing itself as “The Original Singapore Creation”, Old Seng Choong strives to preserve the past through its premium quality confectionary. Each treat aims to reflect the colourful history and culture of Singapore.

But there are lots of other heritage brands that can claim to do the same. How Old Seng Choong sets itself apart is through Daniel’s creativity in blending local and Western pastry techniques.

Image Credit: Old Seng Choong

“We often take traditional recipes and modernise them, blending the old with the new to create innovative and contemporary flavours,” Daniel explained to us.

For example, the brand’s bakwa mooncake doesn’t just have to taste sweet. Daniel also creates it with a slight smoky and bitter taste, as well as a pleasant aftertaste that lingers long after you’re done eating. 

Other products in its repertoire include Mala and Wasabi Soya Sauce palmier, Gula Melaka cookies, and Black Truffle Salted Egg tau sar piah

Image Credit: Old Seng Choong

Elaborating on this, Daniel told Money FM that European pastry focuses a lot on taste, texture, and layering. He uses these same techniques and incorporates them into Singapore’s local delicacies. 

“I’ve dedicated myself to modernising not only the flavour and taste but also the appearance of our pastries, drawing upon all my knowledge and expertise. This comprehensive approach ensures that we deliver a product that is not only delicious but also visually appealing and aligned with contemporary culinary trends,” Daniel shared with us.

Shifting with the market demands

Image Credit: Old Seng Choong

The demand for Old Seng Choong’s products has remained steady throughout its now-eight years of business. Daniel noted that there’s been a noticeable shift in recent times.

While traditional flavours still hold a special place in the hearts of some customers, there has been a growing preference for our modern twists on classic recipes. 

“This is evident from the feedback we receive and the sales trends we observe, indicating a strong interest in innovative and contemporary flavours among our customer base,” he explained.

Not wanting to forget his roots, though, the foodpreneur also developed a line of products to represent Singapore on the international stage. Specifically, cookies that come in a variety of local flavours such as cereal prawn, laksa, and satay.

Image Credit: Old Seng Choong

These were created with tourists in mind as a way for them to bring a taste of Singapore back home. This gives them the opportunity to offer others a taste of our local treats instead of just hearing descriptions.

“We aim to create memorable experiences through our distinctive tastes, ensuring that our products serve as souvenirs that encapsulate the essence of our culture and cuisine,” Daniel stated.

With that in mind, the bakery’s primary focus is on catering to tourists. This is also easily seen in the choice of its store locations, such as Changi Airport and Marina Bay Sands that are hotspots.

Image Credit: Old Seng Choong

Honouring his family’s history

Looking back, Daniel has come a long way since he was that young boy helping out at Seng Choong.

The brand has since made a name for itself amongst locals for serving innovative cookies and pastries. Part of this is due to Daniel’s efforts during the brand’s early days as an online business.

Progress was slow at the time and the pandemic only made it more challenging. But his team was strategic in using Facebook Live to capture the market. And to their surprise and delight, this proved to be an effective method.

Image Credit: Old Seng Choong

The success of these broadcasts catapulted the brand’s visibility and helped people rediscover his family’s old business. 

Old Seng Choong currently has four brick and mortar outlets with more in the pipeline. The founder told us that their plan is to continue opening near tourist attractions. This way, it provides customers with convenience and entices them to explore its range of offerings.

Having dealt with setbacks firsthand in the F&B industry, he’s better prepared to take on new challenges. 

“I made a promise to myself to revive my father’s business because I felt responsible for its previous failure, and I am determined to make him proud,” Daniel stated.

Image Credit: Old Seng Choong
  • Learn more about Old Seng Choong here.
  • Read other articles we’ve written about F&B businesses here.

Featured Image Credit: Old Seng Choong

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