Content written by : PAMELA, FASHION-REFLECTION
It was truly love at first sight when I experienced the cafe culture in Australia on our Christmas holiday last year! If I have learnt one thing, it is that Aussies give a lot of attention to the quality, taste and presentation of food.
This was just the beginning of my love affair with Aussie cafes. Dainty spots with beautiful decor and pretty little details always attract me and I pay attention to these things wherever I go. As a blogger and an Instagram lover I have always put aesthetics as the highest priority. But sometimes it can so happen that we visit an eatery and order some of the most gorgeous looking dishes on the menu and it turns out to be a real disappointment. The good news is I have found a gem in Singapore which satisfies both your taste buds as well Insta-photo craving.
Welcome to Carrotsticks & Cravings, a healthy food haven offering deliciously nutritious food made with love! An Australian cafe which directly transports you to the land of Aussies with its cafe culture vibe, not to mention the aesthetically presented healthy food using the freshest and finest ingredients to create dishes that are not only instagram worthy but taste divine!
So here I am in a conversation with Terri-Anne, the pretty face of Carrotsticks & Cravings, who is a Melbourne expat living a beautiful and blessed life with her husband and three adorable kids in Singapore! She is sweeter than her desserts and I found her to be an inspiration. I wont lie, it was something about the name of the cafe that first intrigued me to meet her and know more about her wonderful journey as a successful entrepreneur and to learn new things about the cafe culture. Surrounded by lush greenery in Dempsey sits this quaint little spot with a casual dining set up where you can enjoy their must-tries like smashed avo and Melbourne coffee.
Ok now let me enjoy my coffee and take a big bite of this carrot cake, while you go through her amazing journey and experience which she shared with me over a table full of her beautiful dishes!
- Why did you decide to pursue a career in the restaurant business?
I guess a love of healthy food and cooking, I started my blog when I was home with 3 kids 2 years old and under (I have twins if you were puzzled by the math haha!) I really missed being creative and found myself constantly cooking and thought why not start writing about it, the blog quickly became a hit and then turned into 3 cook books and my passion for food styling, recipe development and food photography really spiked. I absolutely love it. I love the creative side, the trial and error, the styling and the photos. I’m in my element when I’m creating content and I did freelance food photography for a while.
I wasn’t quite sure where the blog/books were headed and then the opportunity came about for the cafe, I didn’t really think it through actually and it all happens within about 12 weeks of deciding and I’m still learning daily from the experience. It’s been incredible and I learnt so much more than I could ever imagine, in the first year I worked a 7 day week straight for months on end and didn’t really know what I was doing half the time but now I feel really happy with the direction of the business. I felt there was a gap in the market and I really just wanted to bring fresh, healthy Aussie style food to Singapore in a relaxed casual setting where bringing the whole family is encouraged. I love the cafes I’ve created and they really do remind me of home, a little slice of Australia in Singapore.
- What was the idea behind this name- Carrotsticks & Craving? And how did it start?
My food philosophy is all about keeping things in moderation – I’m really good 80% of the time and a little indulgent 20% of the time. I’m all about super foods and creating healthy recipes during the week but when the weekend hits, nothing makes me happier than hosting dinner parties and creating decadent dishes to plate up to family and friends. Hence the name, Carrotsticks & Cravings
- What is your day to day responsibilities as a cafe owner?
I’m now lucky enough to have great managers at the cafes but there is still a lot to do behind the scenes outside of the day to day operations. I am usually in one of the cafes most of the days. I oversee everything and work on brand development and business growth for the company. There is also a lot of admin work on the marketing side that goes into the business and if I’m lucky I’ll find time in my days to help create content, take photos, create new recipes and menu items – which is the part I love!
- In your experience , what is the key to developing a good team?
I like to think that I’m a good boss and I have been very open, encouraging and fair with my staff. Staffing is never easy but I always make myself available to each member of the team if needed and give them my trust. We do regular dinners and do a lot of cross training at the cafe to really encourage team building. I genuinely want all my staff to be happy coming to work and enjoy what they do.
- What is the thorough process when you bring a new item to the menu?
New menu items get tested over and over again by myself and our chefs, we will then have team tastings and add the menu item as a weekly special at the cafe, gather feedback from the customers and see if it will be well-received. We make final tweaks, work on the right way to style and plate the dish and then put it into our regular menus.
- Which one food or drink will you recommend to the person coming for the very first time to your cafe?
Definitely our smashed avocado – my favourite is with poached eggs and smoked salmon. The smashed avo is our signature, the sourdough is made fresh by a brilliant local baker in SG, our avocados are seasonal at the moment coming from Australia and we top it with organic Australian feta and housemade dukkah, which adds a salty spice flavour to the dish – you can then decide on your add ons – poached eggs, smoked salmon, house roasted leg ham or pomegranate – it’s an Aussie brunch signature dish!
Our authentic Melbourne coffee is a must try as well as our fresh juices. My favourite would be the TA everything smoothie – espresso, almond milk, banana, peanut butter, date, chia seeds and raw cacao nibs – this smoothie is filled with superfoods and tastes absolutely delish!
We also have a big selection of house-made refined sugar free, dairy free, gluten free sweet treats using lots of organic nuts and superfoods that hit the spot!
- How do you balance you work life & your personal life ?
Um…. I don’t! The business is my life, my kids pretty much think both cafes are their extended house/playroom. I try to get them involved as much as I can but there are times where it just doesn’t work and mummy just can’t be home that weekend or I have to take one of them to a business meeting and just hope they don’t throw a tantrum half way through. It’s a juggle but it’s worth it the cafe is our home away from home and my kids and my hubby are my biggest support!
- What is the key to success when communicating with the public?
Being honest – I always find it really funny when people always form an impression of who/how I am before they’ve even met me. I think social media is really tricky these days, people usually choose to only portray the good things online but I try be honest where I can. The reality is I’m a busy mum of 3 with 2 cafes and I’m just trying to grow my business in Singapore. Life is me constantly juggling my priorities. It’s far from perfect and I do have good and bad days just like everyone else. I try to keep it real and genuine and I encourage my staff to do the same. Life’s too short I want to be as happy and authentic as I can.
- What is your secret to keeping customers coming in?
Hopefully the food and the atmosphere, we have regular staff trainings to install into everyone about who we are as a brand – providing healthy food to our customers using high quality ingredients with an Australian spin on Singapore’s cafe culture. We want our customers to have a great experience and constantly encourage our staff to really get to know our regulars by name, their orders etc to make them feel welcome each time. We truly do want all of our customers to feel like our cafe is a relaxing place where they can come and enjoy – a little tiny slice of Australia in Singapore and leave feeling nourished after having some yummy healthy food!
Bringing an Australian-inspired healthy cafe experience to Singapore. Here at Carrotsticks and Cravings, we believe in healthy living and eating that is colourful, flavourable which leaves you feeling amazing!
We pride ourselves on using the freshest ingredients possible to serve up delicious and nutritious food. We source a variety of wholesome ingredients from Australia, flying in authentic Melbourne roasted coffee beans and using organic dairy, quinoa, nuts and seeds in our menu.
Be Positive & Spread Happiness Like Confetti