In the next round of Vaniday’s Inspirational Series, we meet Wan Jing, or known more commonly by her online moniker, The TCM Chef. With her knowledge and skills, she’s on a quest to educate and dispel the notions of TCM by combining it with a medium we Singaporeans all know and love: food. Through her channels, The TCM Chef aims to present creative and modern TCM-inspired foods and educate the public (especially the youths!) about TCM.
Her days often start off in the kitchen, testing ideas or perfecting a complex dish. The process of thinking up new dishes is dynamic, and no two days are the same. Like all of us, she occasionally faces dry spells when it comes to ideas, but reading cookbooks or chatting with people can help tide her over. When she’s not in the kitchen, she spends her time planning, researching and writing articles.
The TCM Chef originally started as dine by Qiu, a concept which aims to present modern TCM food in private home settings. When Wan Jing was studying culinary, she knew she wanted to create more than just herbal soups — there’s more to TCM than just ginseng, jujube red dates and wolfberries. All Singaporeans love food, so what better way to educate than through it? Her target is the younger generation who do not know much about TCM. Knowing the younger generation uses social media quite heavily, she creates many IG-worthy dishes to attract pique their interest in TCM.
Wan Jing had only done one private home dining seating in March when it was announced that all non-essential businesses had to cease. Initially, she was at a loss on what to do. How could she stay relevant at a time when private home dining had to stop? Turning adversity into opportunity, she used social media to share recipes and herb knowledge, encouraging people to cook at home. Since travelling was banned, she thought it would be meaningful to help people ‘travel’ via food. Since it was uncertain when home dining could resume, she decided to rebrand as The TCM Chef.
Looking back, she recounts that Circuit Breaker was a blessing in disguise. It gave her the opportunity to be fully focused on building up content for The TCM Chef. Apart from being a trendsetter for modern TCM food, The TCM Chef aims to be a reliable source of reference for Chinese Medicine and health issues.
While she assures us that inventing modern TCM food will still be at the core of her business, she is now also working towards content creation (including videos). These videos aim to educate followers on common health issues and correct common TCM misconceptions. She currently has plans to expand into other services such as dietary therapy, health workshops, and online culinary classes as well.
Behind every strong women is a strong man, and Wan Jing has no one more to thank than her husband. During her culinary course, she had to work on weekends or public holidays. On her off days, she was too tired to do anything. As a result, the household chores were all passed to her husband. Despite having to manage his own busy schedule, he did is without complaints, and was fully supportive of her. He is also the brainchild behind the name The TCM Chef!
Her favourite part of being an entrepreneur? Definitely the freedom and flexibility — she can start on new projects as and when she pleases. Cooking allows her to be creative, and it gives her a great sense of fulfilment when people like the food she makes.
What about advice for first-time entrepreneurs? Find your niche in the market, she says. Make sure you differentiate your product from others! Don’t just focus on sales and marketing, but build up technical knowledge that is relevant in your field. Knowing your stuff brings value to your clients and builds the confidence they have in your products and service. In other words, know your work, build trust and relationships with your clients.
Finally, she lives by the quote “德成而上，艺成而下；行成而先，事成而后” 《礼记·乐记篇. Given to her by her Ancient Chinese Literature lecturer, Qi (戚老师), it is a reminder to keep moral ethics or attitude (德、行) at the forefront when obtaining medical skills and knowledge. In the same way, everything needs to be done with the right intentions.
SPECIAL GIVE AWAY FOR OUR VANIDAY COMMUNITY!
Two lucky winners will each walk away with a $20 e-voucher from The TCM Chef with our exclusive VaniZine giveaway! Enjoy a unique dining experience from the comfort of your home (also applicable to takeaways or products). Contest ends on 15 Dec 20 2359. Winners will receive e-voucher via email. Voucher is not exchangeable for cash and non-transferable. Valid until 31 March 2021. More details can be found on Vaniday‘s Instagram and Facebook.