Self-taught baker and chef-owner, Juwanda Hassim, also known as The Fabulous Baker Boy, is nothing short of wanda-ful. The 46 year old’s kitchen creations are a reflection of his larger-than-life personality. Since his restaurant’s opening nine years ago, Juwanda’s cakes have been consistently making headlines in the F&B editorial space. He will be relaunching his multi-concept restaurant at the creative enclave of Aliwal Arts Centre this month. The expanded menu will include sourdough breads, croissants, quiches, danishes and cookies, in addition to The Fabulous Baker Boy’s famous range of Diva and Divo cakes named after celebrities.
In an interview with SG Lifestyle, our Column Editor, Angela May Tan, trawls deeper into what drives the multi-faceted, talented baker and gets him up every morning, ready to seize the day.
SGLS: The Fabulous Baker Boy burst into the local F&B scene nine years ago. Given how cut-throat the industry is, how did you stay in the game for so many years?
Juwanda: It is all about passion, the fire in the belly. Running a business in this industry is hard work. It doesn’t help that it is also ultra competitive. Hence, it is important to have a competent team who goes the extra mile for and with you. I also make it a point to consciously surround myself with people I can trust and depend on. I may be physically tired but the new restaurant at Aliwal Arts Centre renews my spirit. I recalibrate by having a nice cup of coffee with a slice of my cakes.
SGLS: The choice of your past and even your new location at Aliwal Arts Centre are somewhat off the beaten track (read: not located in malls). Is this a deliberate decision?
Juwanda: Theatre is my first love and I’ve always been around the arts scene in various capacities. I love being around creative energy. At the previous location at Fort Canning, we had an art space where we organised art exhibitions, performances, et al. And at our new location, we will be working closely with the team at Aliwal Arts Centre to complement their art programmes with our offerings, playing an active role in the ecosystem. So to answer your question, yes, it’s a deliberate decision to be close to the arts.
SGLS: You held a string of various occupations in different industries, including one in media, in the past, before you embarked on the entrepreneur journey. Do you get bored easily? Which role did you enjoy the most?
Juwanda: I do not get bored easily, there’s too much to see and do. I enjoy singing and acting so those come naturally to me. My last stage performance was with Pangdemonium’s “Peter and the Starcatcher”. And at that time, I had to run my restaurant during the day and go for rehearsals at night. It was the best and worst of times but I enjoyed it all to the fullest.
SGLS: Which are the top three items on your new menu that first-time patrons of The Fabulous Baker Boy must try?
Juwanda: The classics (also my favourites) are what customers come back for: Fried Chicken & Waffles, Ab Fab Red Velvet Cake (all-time best seller) and our Danish pastries with coffee will definitely start anybody’s morning right.
SGLS: Who inspires you in business and in life?
Juwanda: My husband CP inspires me. He is my rock and calming presence in my sometimes chaotic world.
Bonus Q: Any famous last words for other Juwandas-in-the-making? ☺
Juwanda: Find your passion. That fire in the belly will be the force that will get you up, raring to go every morning. And most importantly, LOVE EVERY DAY! ❤️
The Fabulous Baker Boy’s new home is located at:
Aliwal Arts Centre
28 Aliwal Street, #01-01
Interview by: Angela May Tan, Column Editor & Writer, SG Lifestyle