We first discovered Food For Thought way back in 2011, when we visited one of their cafes for brunch. Fast forward to today, and we're proud to work with this socially-conscious company for a variety of their desserts. We speak to Elyssa Goh, the brand's general manager about Food For Thought's journey, and the ins-and-outs of running an F&B establishment that also contributes to the global community.
Unlike many other cafes, Food For Thought (FFT), the F&B arm of the The Thought Collective (a group social enterprises) came about not from a chef's love of cuisine but from three friends' ambitions to create a place where they could have conversations with the general public on issues and values.
Ten years on, FFT continues to educate and raise awareness for various social initiatives, big and small. "FFT intentionally locates itself in areas of public interest - aligning the design, menu and programming of each outlet to location-defined missions," says Goh. "For example, locating in the Botanic Gardens is about bringing value to a precious institution in Singapore. The garden celebrates family life, rest and relaxation, so the whole restaurant was designed to be very family-friendly."
Their other outlet, a bright, airy space at the National Museum (pictured above) aims to share the Singapore story with visitors. Says Goh: "Round marble tabletops, wall mosaics and wooden chairs pay homage to the kopitiams Singaporeans grew up with. The outlet serves heritage-inspired comfort food with a contemporary twist. For example, Red Rice Wine Chicken which is reminiscent of family reunions, alongside homely mee sua and kai lan."
On the operations front, Goh says that the toughest things about running a restaurant business are standing out from the sea of current and upcoming food establishments, keeping relevant and maintaining consistency. "We constantly review the quality of our supplies and the final offerings that we serve our customers."
She adds that as an F&B operator, choosing suppliers who are honest and proud of their product is key. FFT learnt about The Ice Cream & Cookie Co.'s products from an intern at their sister company, Think Tank Studio. "We were sold the moment we had our first bite. We knew we were tasting quality. We also loved the fact that the ice cream sandwiches were a home-grown product and that every single sandwich is assembled by hand!"
Despite the challenges in an incredibly competitive field, Goh and her staff are motivated by big picture goals. "The best thing about being part of FFT is working together with people who share the same goals for the café as you – wanting to put out good food for a good cause. Once there is a personal stake at work, it makes motivation a lot easier."