#PSMeetTheTeam : Alan (Assistant Manager)

Designation Assistant Manager

Year in PS 1 year 9 months

Hometown Terengganu, Malaysia

Have you always been living and working in Singapore?

I was born in Terengganu, Malaysia where I have spent most of my life growing up. My mum is Singaporean but migrated to Malaysia a long time ago because my grandma wanted to live a simpler life. We still have relatives in Singapore so in 2008 I decided to move to Singapore to pursue my career in the Food & Beverage (F&B) service industry.

When did you know you wanted to be in this industry?

Back then, the only part-time job that I could apply as a 15-year-old student was in restaurants. I would study in the morning and work in the evenings to earn extra income for daily needs. I love food and wanted to be a chef; so I thought I would pursue a Diploma in a Culinary school at INTI International College in Kuala Lumpur, but then I realised that being a chef also means I will have to slaughter animals, which I was not happy about. So I switched to Hotel Management instead which I am thankful for because, during the 2.5 year course, I did an internship programme at Shangri La, Penang. I learned so much in 6 months, exploring different positions such as being a cleaner, housekeeper and waitering - that’s when I was first told that I have a knack for the service line and 9 years later, here I am!

Has working in F&B influenced your eating habits?

Definitely! Having worked in mostly Western restaurants make me crave for Asian food more whenever I am out. From Thai to Vietnamese and especially Japanese food. So far I have tried 30 Ramen stalls in Singapore and counting!

Why Ramen?

I admire the Japanese way of working and their relationship with food; I think their food shows their hard work and dedication. For example in Ramen, I appreciate how the soup base (dashi) is made. For ramen chefs, in order to produce original flavours, they will have to go through hundreds of trial and error experiments in combining dashi with the added flavours in order to achieve 'the one'. That is dedication right there. I can’t wait to finally visit Japan next year!

What’s your ideal comfort food? 

You’ll be surprised that I love desserts more than anything. Waffle + ice cream is a perfect combination for me. I would also choose the sweetest ice cream to go with it, such as butterscotch or caramel.

Sweet tooth! So, tell us about your Favourite PS dish.

Dark Chocolate Banana Cheesecake and our Oreo Milkshake!

The PS Thai Brunch Bowl is my all time favourite too.

 Collage of Alan's photos of the different Ramen he's tried!

Collage of Alan's photos of the different Ramen he's tried!

 Dark Chocolate Banana Cheesecake

Dark Chocolate Banana Cheesecake

 PS Thai Brunch Bowl

PS Thai Brunch Bowl

How do you spend your off days?

Other than trying out more ramen, I try to work on self-improvement. I love learning and knowing things that people don’t know about. Whenever I travel I make it a point to visit museums since Greek mythology, artefacts and Science are my favourite topics. My most memorable experience was when I went to Taiwan and visited the National Museum of Natural Science, I spent 6 hours there absorbing everything – it was huge! I often watch science documentaries too, especially River Monsters on Discovery Channel. 

Did you know that Arapaima Gigas is an air-breathing fish that plies the rain forest rivers of South America's Amazon and one of the world's largest freshwater fish? Also, did you know that most sharks breathe by extracting oxygen when seawater passes through their gills, making it impossible for most of them to stay still otherwise they would drown? It's fascinating!

Interesting! Have you always been good at memorising things?

Not always, I was terrible at school actually, but working in this industry has taught me to appreciate it. During my first full-time job experience in Singapore, I was made to memorise all the menu items, down to the price and ingredients within my first week at work. In order to keep my job and prove that I could do it, it motivated me to study wherever I go; on my commute, before I sleep, while I eat. It was a blessing in disguise because ever since, I have been obsessed with memorising things and it has definitely helped a lot for work since I can remember orders without taking them down or when guests ask for specific details, I’d be able to answer right away.

What do you love most about your job?

It is different every day! I can’t imagine myself working behind the desk because I love talking to people and building connections with guests on a daily basis and it feels great. I especially like how PS has given me the chance to study in depth on what we do. I was selected to be a part of Wine Captain that is conducted monthly by our colleague, to learn more about wine, understanding different grapes as well as attending events to broaden our knowledge. There’s also Focus Group which I am a part of, where we would conduct training and orientation sessions for newcomers. There are always new things to do!

You were promoted to Assistant Manager within 1.5 years working here, any advice you would give to a newcomer?

Be open to changes and take pride in what you do. I think always seeing things in a positive light have been very helpful because it is rare for people to admit mistakes. There are a lot of things to learn here other than service, such as paperwork and logistics, but keep learning and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Refresh your memory once in awhile because at the end of the day we are all human. Apologise when mistakes are made, it helps us improve. I think doing self-improvement and finding a routine helps set a certain standard. For example, the first thing I do every morning is to check logistic and stock, whether we have enough for the whole week to go through. If not, I'd know what to do next to sustain.

What’s your life motto?

Help out whenever you can, no matter what's your position.