Family Breeds Familairity
Epicure Magazine|February - March 2021
Looking at a 20-year-old brand through 28-year-old eyes, Fong Chak Ka, VP of Operations at PUTIEN reveals the simple truth behind his father’s legacy.
Esther Faith Lew

The special thing about PUTIEN is that it is, well, not special. PUTIEN does not place importance on being defined as such, although its simple focus on “fresh ingredients” and “authentic taste” has won accolades for the 20-year-old brand, Michelin star no less. It is a commitment that founder Fong Chi Chung has set in stone since the beginnings of PUTIEN as a coffee shop in Kitchener Road in 2000, and it looks like his eldest son Fong Chak Ka is staying true to its brand promise – and keeping home close to his heart.

“PUTIEN is about home-cooked food. It’s just simply that. Food that is unpretentious, simple and pure. Many families do not have time for home-cooked dinners anymore, and we just want to provide a simple meal in a simple setting for friends and families to get together. It’s about comfort food in a comfortable venue at an affordable price so that families can keep coming back frequently for their dinners. And to a great extent, I see that happening. In fact, we have many regulars who used to dine at PUTIEN with their parents as children and have now come back with their own families,” shares 28-year-old Chak Ka, Vice-President of Operations.

Keeping it fresh and seasonal

There are no ‘new-gen’ vibes from Chak Ka at all, other than his casual jeans and sneakers attire, paired with a smart jacket for the photoshoot. In fact, the young man was conscientiously serving Chinese tea with practised moves throughout the interview, explaining that he loved tea for its healthy properties. His humble and grounded demeanour spoke volumes about an upbringing that was pretty much family-oriented but not stifling, with valuable exposure to the family business as a food taster and wait staff at 16 years old. Having graduated with a degree in business management from the University of California, his father put his knowledge and talents to good use by appointing him his current role just three years ago.

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