news that he sold his famous former cake and pastry business for a tidy sum a
few years ago. He was among the first to cater to those who get no satisfaction
from pandan chiffon cakes and kopi and offered lemon meringue pies and gold
leaf gilded cakes with designer beverages. He sold that Bakerzin bakery and
café business and headed off into the sunset. But the burning question in me
was - Why? “Of course we sold it to turn some cash around”, owner Daniel Tay
frankly admits, “I am tired of that old business and cowboy-style high rental
increases, plus the tight labour situation made me lagi (even more)
tired." So after a couple of years out of the rat race and time off to
smell the flowers, Daniel came back with a new idea and renewed energies.
is the way to go, it’s gonna be a hit,” he beams and was all ready to show me
the $2 million factory he set up to do just that. But not before I laid it to
him gently that, erm, cheesecakes are not new and had been around for yonks and
the sun has kind of set on that cake many years ago. He dug deep for a response
before the epiphany, “But I sell a more inspiring and funky range, plus I sell
them up to 40% cheaper”. Now, to me, that is a strategy. He sells them only
online and his cakes averages $20-$30, versus the $35-$55 price range for
similar ones in the market. “I don’t have to worry about retail shops and rents
and we can concentrate just on making it at the factory and taking orders
online. I also don’t have retail manpower shortage problems”. He has fifty
skilled staff in his Cat and the Fiddle factory and the place is not fully
automated - “just a big bakery with good facilities and no, I will never allow
these to be fully made by machines”, Daniel clarifies.
But he took
it a step further - by creating a brand and spinning stories behind his
creations. They spun tales of how the cow refused to give milk to the cat
because it’s no longer a kitten. So the cat milked it while the cow slept, kept
it for later and discovered... cheese, and loved it. The rest was their
cheesecake history. Their basic
cheesecake, Over the Moon, is their top seller thus far and it’s like any good
old American style cheesecake - rich and ooh so cheesy yet light enough. Like
how one of his Japanese yuzu (Japanese citrus fruit) inspired flavours came
with a manga character called Maneki Neko. His salted caramel cheesecake, Sweet
and Smokey Taffy was about how the cat tossed cheese into a volcano that
somehow ended with a buttery crust and toffee (don’t ask me how).
But I have
to reserve my best comments for that other top seller in their list... Paws of
Fury. I’ll spare you the story (sounded quite violent too)... It’s simply a
yin/yang (coffee and tea) cheesecake.
It’s a notch better than a cheese chiffon cake with kopi.
11 cakes currently in their repertoire, and this three-week old outfit shifts
about 200 cakes a day. “My target is regional market share and to sell 3000
cakes a day." Not impossible at all.
Cat and the Fiddle
and delivery available