Foodie Confidential

Bouncing into the food delivery scene

In the lead-up to his Ironman triathlon in two weeks, Mr Tristan Torres, the general manager of food delivery service Deliveroo, has cut pizzas and burgers from his diet, but he is not giving up milkshakes.

When The Sunday Times sits down for an interview with the 36-year-old Spaniard at 2pm on a Wednesday, he orders milkshakes from Once Upon A Milkshake, via Deliveroo, of course.

The London-based start-up was launched in 2013 and has been in Singapore since November last year. It has more than 450 restaurants on board, 34 staff members and more than 250 delivery riders in Singapore.

Some of the restaurants under Deliveroo include Japanese restaurant Kinki, bakery chain Cedele and PS Cafe. Delivery locations include the Central Business District, Bishan, Bedok, Queenstown and Katong, and will go islandwide by the end of next month.

When the financial crisis hit in 2009, the Barcelona-born former private banker decided to move into the world of e-commerce. He worked with Groupon in Spain and online marketplace LivingSocial in Manila before coming to Singapore in 2013 as chief sales officer for Ensogo, an e-commerce company.

  • WHAT WOULD YOUR LAST MEAL BE?

  • I would order everything from the menus of all the restaurants on Deliveroo and eat until I explode.

He jumped at the opportunity to join Deliveroo when he heard it was looking to launch here, hoping to change the food delivery scene in Singapore. The brand boasts an average delivery time of 32 minutes.

His 38-year-old Spanish wife Ines runs a bespoke travel consultancy and they have three children, aged one to six.

Mr Torres recalls ordering food online when he first came to Singapore: "For me, ordering food was a nightmare. Ordering a pizza can take 1 1/2 hours. When you have three kids jumping and shouting that they are hungry, it is not an amazing experience."

Where are your favourite hawker haunts in Singapore?

Twice a week, I take my two older children to Old Airport Road Food Centre for roast duck noodles and apple juice. It's always a great meal as I get to spend time with them. I also like to go to Little India for weekly curry meals.

What must you eat when you return to Spain?

The first thing that I need to do when I get to the airport is to go to a bar for an amazing Iberico ham sandwich with a beer. It is the most important thing to do, before seeing my friends and family. Back home, I must have my mum's paella and croquetas.

Which Spanish restaurants do you like in Singapore?

Binomio at Craig Road for its ham croquetas and FOC in Hong Kong Street for tapas.

Are you an adventurous diner?

Yes, I eat everything. I've had snake blood in Marrakesh, Morocco, as well as fried blood and balut (boiled developing duck embryo in the eggshell) in the Philippines.

What are the most popular items on Deliveroo?

Burgers from The Butchers Club Burger and salad from SaladStop. Cedele's carrot cake is also a hot seller.

Should something go wrong with the order, what is the recovery process?

If the delivery is late by even one minute, we compensate the customer with Deliveroo credits for the next order. If there is a missing item, we offer a refund, or ask for more time to re-deliver with no cost of the item. If the food is not in optimal condition, we refund the full amount that the customer pays.

What are your thoughts on e-commerce?

We don't go to shops any more, we don't even talk any more as everyone is always on his phone. You can get everything online, from plane tickets to clothes to food, and reach thousands of people with just one click.

The e-commerce world is changing and people are not interested in discount sites any more. If you're used to fighting in clubs, now you're fighting in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Players such as Alibaba and Amazon will punch you at 150km per hour and it'll be a knockout.

How do you see the future of delivery services?

If we need to use drones for delivery, I'll do it. Perhaps in five years' time, delivery can be done in 10 minutes. In the past, a delivery in seven days is super fast. Now, Amazon does same day delivery.

If you could dine with someone, who would you pick?

The late founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, to talk business. What he did in Singapore in 50 years is unbelievable.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 21, 2016, with the headline 'Bouncing into the food delivery scene'. Print Edition | Subscribe