In this month’s #WoWWoman series, we get up close and in conversation with women who possess the gumption to start something that matters to them — that also makes other people happy! — thus turning their passion into purpose. They are a shining example of how to do it and do it with heart and class. Naturally, we want to know everything. Don’t you? In collaboration with Canary Diamond Co.
Who: Angela May. Partner and chef of Angela May Food Chapters.
In her own words:
“I’ve always loved food, but the love has changed so much over time. When I was a child, I loved to look through all the jars of spices and interesting things that my mother had bought from the Thai grocery which were so different from the pre-packaged food that came out of the regular American grocery store.
My mother used to make me cinnamon sugar doughnuts using ready-made yeast dough that you took out of the fridge and it was instantly ready. One day, I wanted doughnuts, and there was nobody around to make them for me, so I tried my hand at deep-frying. That was the first time I ever cooked. I still love cinnamon sugar doughnuts to this day.”
In a single breath, Angela May is…
An unexpectedly quirky girl with a terribly naughty sense of humour.
Chilli, ginger and sugar.
On the morning of our shoot, May arrives promptly at 10am at the Shangri-La Singapore. The lift door opens; out emerges a petite figure with an effortlessly coiffed blonde bob. (She debuted her fresh new do on Facebook the day before.) She strides towards me with a smile that feels like a ginormous, freshly baked, hearty chocolate cookie. “Hello! Nice to see you again,” chimes the Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef.
It’s a busy, busy day. We have her for the morning before she hotfoots it back to the restaurant at Robinsons The Heeren — a partnership with the DHM Group who’s also behind Forlino and L’Entrecote — where another photo shoot awaits. But she’s chill. After all, work in a glorious suite like this, and in the company of such “friends” as Hugo Boss, Roger Vivier and a smorgasbord of diamonds and sapphires is more like fun, right?
“It’s the perfect way to spend the morning,” May concurs. Plus, let’s not forget this is a woman who is used to wearing many proverbial hats. When you ask the Thai-American model /
With little time to squander, the 41-year-old kicks off her white Converse sneakers and swaps her shirt-and-jeans ensemble for a fabulous white Hugo Boss dress we could totally see Gwyneth Paltrow rocking on the red carpet. She slips into a pair of beige chunky-heeled sandals while we embellish the belle with a few sparkly accoutrements. Et voila, it’s model hat on. But you get the feeling that her toque never really comes off as May regales us with cooking tips (“Use cashew nut milk. I love it!”), food trivia and fun facts about her menu (“It’s how I like to eat.”) between smizing and posing for the camera. 👏🏻 Well, we are taking our hats off… to Angela May.
IT FELT LIKE A REALLY LONG JOURNEY JUST TO GET TO OPENING DAY.
How did the idea of Angela May Food Chapters and your partnership with DHM come about?
Angela May: We spoke at length about the changing shape of cuisine in Singapore, and how there are so many people moving towards eating in a more sustainable way that is better for health and the environment. I felt that it would be fantastic to open a restaurant that uses produce and ingredients that are local to the area. DHM and I have the same attitude towards hospitality — what makes a dining experience fun and friendly.
Has it always been your dream to open your own restaurant? And to actually materialise it — what was the aha moment?
AM: I’ve always loved working in the food field, but I suppose the aha moment came when I talked with DHM and we felt the same way about the industry and what we wanted to move towards with the restaurant.
Between the decision to go for it and opening the doors to Food Chapters, what did it take?
AM: Menu development started about a year before, which was soon followed by interior and furniture design. It felt like a really long journey just to get to opening day.
What is your vision for Food Chapters?
AM: This is Chapter One. I’m excited to continue on this journey and fill the pages with unexpected twists and turns.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome so far?
AM: Managing my expectations versus reality.
What is your method of dealing with the jitters, doubts, “what-ifs” along the way?
AM: Wine! 🍷 Hahaha.
I’m constantly inspired when I’m travelling and experiencing new flavours around the world. I love speaking with other chefs and going to their restaurants, too.
If you are doing something you’re passionate about, you’ll never feel like you’ve spent a day at work.
“Hard work” are two words constantly uttered by many, if not all, business owners. To give aspiring entrepreneurs an idea, can you tell us about the hard work you put in to Food Chapters? What’s a regular day for you like? (We hear you like to put in your personal touch on everything!)
AM: It’s go time from the moment I get up. I look through the day’s reservations first to see who are going to be dining at the restaurant that day. Then I go through emails and prioritise which I can answer immediately and what needs to be worked on. Once I get to the restaurant, we discuss what events are coming up and what promotions/holiday items need to be worked on since we’re about three months ahead of the curve. Then I’m either in the kitchen or menu planning for the rest of the day.
Who, what, where are your sources of inspiration?
AM: I get inspiration everywhere. I’m constantly inspired when I’m travelling and experiencing new flavours around the world. I love speaking with other chefs and going to their restaurants, too.
What is your best advice to women who wish to follow in your footsteps and chase their dreams, and start their own thing?
AM: I always advise anyone to follow their dreams regardless of who they are because that’s where your passion lies. If you are doing something you’re passionate about, you’ll never feel like you’ve spent a day at work.
What is your mantra in life and in work?
AM: Put your head down and get it done.
PUT YOUR BIG-GIRL PANTS ON AND GET SH*T DONE.
What is the most important lesson learned so far?
AM: Whenever one challenge is over, there’s another lurking right around the next corner. There’s never a moment when I can sit back and rest.
When you’re not wearing a toque, what’s your wardrobe staple?
AM: Since the restaurant is so young, I’ve been mostly in chef whites for almost a year. I’ve been trying more and more to wear real clothes to restaurant, but I still usually pair jeans with a fitted jacket and light shirt with my hair pulled back.
Every day you’re hustling to create culinary gems for your guests. When it comes to actual gems, can you recall the very first piece of jewellery you ever bought for yourself?
AM: Does a watch count? I was so in love with this rose-gold-and-steel Rolex in boy size. When I settled into modelling and was quite comfortable (financially), I bought the watch for myself and wore it with everything.
What is your ultimate comfort food?
AM: Fried egg with a runny yolk over jasmine rice with fish sauce and chilli padi, or mac and cheese. I’m truly on the cusp of being Asian and Western.
Other than Food Chapters, which is your absolute favourite restaurant?
AM: Forlino. I love pasta. Chef Sasa (that’s Chef Yohhei Sasaki to the rest
If you could cook a dish for any woman in the world, what would it be and for whom?
AM: Mac and cheese for Mindy Kaling. That would be a ridiculously funny meal — we need more laughter in our lives.
Who is your #WoWWoman?
AM: She’s an independent woman who knows where they want to go in life.
Take your pick:
Heels or flats? Heels
Diamonds or pearls? Diamonds
Cake or ice cream? Cake
Morning or night? Morning
Netflix or a book? Can’t live without either
Eat in or eat out? Out
Paris or New York? New York
Fashion or food? Food
Straight or curly? (Fries, we mean.) Straight
Compete the sentence: When sh*t happens…
AM: Put your big-girl pants on and get sh*t done.
T H E L O O K S
Jewellery, The Canary Diamond Co
Dress and heeled sandals, Hugo Boss
Bag, Roger Vivier
Turtleneck sweater and pants, Iris & Ink.