Words by Fabian Loo
The next generation is breathing new life into the forgotten art of spice-mixing, peppering the traditional trade with renewed ideas and fresh perspectives.
*This is an extract of an article that first appeared in Wine & Dine’s 2021 ‘Spice & Aromatics’ issue
While traditional mom-and-pop stores such as Shah’s struggle to compete with the convenience of the internet, others have taken it in stride to gain a unique edge. For Leow Min Ling, a second-generation spicemaker, social media and e-commerce have helped rejuvenate her father’s spice business.
The idea to join her family’s spice business first dawned on her while working at her first full-time stint after graduating with a marketing degree: that if she could dedicate her hard work to any company, why could she not channel the same energy into furthering her father’s spice business?
Raised by a family of spice makers meant that she understood the significance of the trade. Each packet helps preserve heritage dishes that have been passed on for generations-old recipes that include black pepper crab, bak kut teh, and even sambal kangkong. “Spices play a very important role in flavouring a lot of traditional Asian cooking,” she shares. “It is part of our identity, our heritage, and culture. And I want the next generation to still be able to enjoy the authentic, traditional flavours of Singapore.”
And with the modern audience in mind, Leow decided to rebrand her father’s original spice store, Liao Jia Xiang Trading, to Anthony the Spice Maker. The shopfront at Kreta Ayer is also bright and clean, with minimally designed packages displayed on neat shelves. “It was about focusing on the needs and wants of our customers,” she adds. “And putting myself in their shoes.” Her aim, thus, is to move spices out of the shadows and into the mainstream, using contemporary aesthetics and relevant mediums to connect to most young Singaporeans.
*Read the full article in Wine & Dine’s 2021 ‘Spice & Aromatics’ issue. Available at newsstands and Magzter