Culinary arts graduate starts his own eatery chain

ITE Technical Diploma in Culinary Arts graduate Shah Indra Jasni at his fried chicken stall in Bukit Merah. He says his time in ITE helped him tackle problems and be forward-thinking. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO
ITE Technical Diploma in Culinary Arts graduate Shah Indra Jasni at his fried chicken stall in Bukit Merah. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

Before he graduated in 2013, Mr Shah Indra Jasni applied for an internship at La Pyramide in Vienne, France.

The four-month stint at the two-Michelin-starred restaurant was part of Mr Indra's final-year internship requirement for the Institute of Technical Education's (ITE) Technical Diploma in Culinary Arts programme.

Mr Indra, who is now 28, said: "It was difficult to be there alone. I could speak a little French, enough to do my job and move around, but it was tough to adjust to the restaurant environment there. It was different from school back home."

But the experience taught him a great deal.

In 2017, Mr Indra started a business with two friends selling halal burgers at Golden Mile Food Centre. Burgs by Project Warung has expanded to four outlets, although the original Golden Mile hawker stall has since closed.

Last month, Mr Indra opened a new stall in Bukit Merah called Birdhaus by Project Warung, selling fried chicken.

He said that across his different stalls, daily sales hit about four figures per outlet.

He was among the first to be enrolled in the technical diploma programme, which started in 2011 and has produced a number of chefs and business owners.

Mr Indra, who was one of four students in his batch to be offered an internship posting in France, chose La Pyramide because it provided free lodging and meals.

He secured the position with the help of a chef in Saint Pierre restaurant in Singapore.

Mr Indra had previously interned there while pursuing a Nitec in Western Culinary Arts.

Students in the ITE technical diploma programme take French language lessons and learn about French history and culture.

They also study restaurant management and accounting, among other things.

Said Mr Indra: "What I'm doing now (running my own hawker stall) is very different from what I learnt in school or in my internship days.

"But my time in ITE helped me tackle problems and be forward-thinking - these were skills that our lecturers tried to impart to us."

He added that he is in talks to open a flagship cafe or restaurant, which is his dream.

Jolene Ang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 16, 2020, with the headline 'Culinary arts graduate starts his own eatery chain'. Print Edition | Subscribe