SINGAPORE (Dec 11): Daniel Tay’s office is a hotchpotch of everything he loves — an extensive collection of Chinese teapots, a Japanese sword he purchased from a travelling salesman, a pastry chef’s apron — but it is on the apron that Tay is building his future. “People think I am stupid [making cheesecakes in Singapore],” he says, “but manufacturing can work here. It costs a bit more, but you will have the branding [to charge a premium].”
The 47-year-old founder of local food manufacturer Foodgnostic is fitting out a $5 million cheesecake factory in Senoko. He estimates that he will need only 15 staff to make 10,000 cheesecakes a day in the new and highly automated 16,000 sq ft facility. He wants to sell the cakes in retail outlets across Southeast Asia and China, and take Foodgnostic public in three years.
Founded in 2013, Foodgnostic is a private-label food manufacturer with a factory in Kampong Ampat. It is famous for durian and Milo dinosaur cheesecakes, and counts global coffee houses among its clients. Foodgnostic currently needs five employees to make a batch of 1,000 cheesecakes, but Tay wants to make the process much more efficient. “I will work with robotics specialists to come up with machines that can unmould cakes, for instance.”