Interview with Founder of Jody Ang (Grin Affair) – Inventor of Jar Cake in Singapore?

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Epoch Times, Singapore Edition (Issue 491, July 25 – August 7, 2014)

By Li Yen
Epoch Times Staff

Fancy eating cake from a jar? One unique shop in Singapore serves that. ‘Grin Affair’ is the first dessert shop in Singapore bringing oh-so-lovely cake in a glass jar, and Jody Ang is the young entrepreneur behind this well-known enterprise.

Charismatic and confident, 24-year-old Jody wants to bring joy to her customers – and that is precisely why she named her shop ‘Grin Affair’. Indeed, the rainbow-like jar cakes, rustic yet undeniably charming ambience, and the delightfully cute cake illustrations drawn by Jody easily brings a smile to your face when you walk in.

This cake-in-a-jar shop is tucked away in a quiet corner of Everton Park, an old neighbourhood estate where Jody spent most of her childhood days. She feels at home setting her shop in this new hipster enclave as her grandma lives just a few blocks away. “My grandmother lives around here. We are very close. My mom visits my grandma every day and I used to come here every day after school, so it is like a place with lots of memories,” explained Jody.

After her A-levels, Jody skipped the university route and spent the next two years working different jobs. It was during the third year of her working life that she decided to follow her interest to set up a cake shop.

She thought she would deplete her savings, but she did not have to, as the simple furniture and all the details of Grin Affair, including its menu and the welcome sign, were carefully designed and handcrafted by Jody and her father, who is a contractor. This helped Jody save on start-up costs. “I don’t want to spend too much, because the focus is still on the desserts,” Jody said.

Jody is a creative inventor who likes to do things in an unconventional way. Seeking to give her customers a whole new unique experience when they visit her homely cake shop, she chooses to serve her cake in a jar instead of the conventional box.

Serving cakes in jars is also an environmentally-friendly method, which Jody embraces. Jars can be re-used as customers can choose to return the jars in exchange of a ticket. Customers can exchange 10 tickets for a drink, and 12 tickets for a cake. She said, “It is always a waste when you buy those plastic boxes, paper boxes and they cost money. So I started off and I just thought it looks quite cute in a jar, together with the paper liner, as well as the string; everything is completely recyclable.”

Grin Affair has been quietly drawing a regular crowd since it started business in 2011. The unique cake-in-a-jar concept has slowly gained media awareness and attracted cake lovers after a popular blogger blogged about her petite artisan shop three years ago. Jody considers herself ‘lucky’ as she has not placed much emphasis on marketing and publicising her shop, but through word-of-mouth and media coverage, the humble shop has received favourable attention in Singapore.

Diligence is the key to success and doing something from your heart does make a difference, according to Jody, who sacrificed her social life, working from morning till midnight when she just started out. Her parents were doubtful at first, but later they got convinced after seeing how passionate she was in doing the business.

Jody values hard work and the pursuit of one’s passion. She has the following advice for young entrepreneurs: “Just do it. Just try it. A lot of people think and consider big projection, when am I going to cover my overhead, that kind of thing. I don’t think that is important. If you have an idea, just go ahead. Diligence is very important. Make sure that you are ready to sacrifice your time, especially on your social life.”

Jody is currently pursuing a business and social studies degree. Due to her hectic school life, her brother and mother are presently baking and managing the business most of the time. She added, “For now, the shop is not about me anymore; it is my mom, my brother, it is a combined effort.”

Cakes

Grin Affair bakes everything from scratch using fresh and natural ingredients. They do not use ready-made ingredients and there are no preservatives, artificial enhancers, flavouring added to their baking goods. Baking everything from scratch enables them to change their recipes flexibly, and that is also the reason why their cakes taste uniquely different from other bakeries.

Jody revealed, “In a lot of F&B, they use a lot of processed food, like ready-made ingredients. It saves on labour costs, but everything will turn out like you are eating the same things. But if you make things from scratch, you can change things, and it will turn out different.”

The self-taught baker drew inspiration from cake books, and invented all the cake recipes on Grin Affair’s menu three years ago. Grin Affair has a special concept in which sponge cake, mousse, fruits and nuts are cleverly stacked layer by layer into glass jars. There are currently more than a dozen unique savoury flavours of cakes to select from. A new flavour will be added once in a while, whenever she and her brother have a new inspiration. Prices range from S$6 – S$6.50 a jar.

Grin Affair’s most popular flavours are strawberry cheese, cookie & cream, lychee passion and dark chocolate. Jody’s personal favourite is Bonoffee, which is a yummy coffee cake with banana slices topped with crispy baked crust, dulce de leche and pecans.

Donq Bakery at Takashimaya is one of Jody’s favourite bakery shops in Singapore, but her aunt’s bakery is still the best. Jody enthused, “I love her cakes. She makes awesome cakes.”

Durian

The gooey goodness of the durian cake fresh from Grin Affair’s kitchen has to be tried to be believed. This jar of sinful durian cake consists of vanilla sponge layered with durian mousse and sprinkled with baked crusts. It contains 100 per cent Mao Shan Wang durian puree which literally melts in the mouth. With each spoonful, my mouth was bursting with the sweetness of durian. This is definitely a treat for durian-loving fans.

Honey Lavender

This elegant-looking treat is a vanilla cake mixed with lavender-scented honey mousse and topped with fresh blueberries. The lavender aroma was generous and intense, and this heavenly scent sent a cooling effect down my throat that lasted even hours after eating this punchy yet refreshing cake. This is truly a comforting reprieve for summer!

Matcha Azuki

Matcha Azuki is a vanilla cake layered with green tea mousse, soft azuki beans, and topped with light coffee cake and walnuts. The walnuts are terrifically chunky, and the matcha and azuki beans are refreshingly sweet and flavoursome. The varied range of flavours in one cake make each bite unique from the last—a truly gastronomic experience.

Drinks

Drinks available on the menu include apple brew, coffee, matcha milk and rosella tea. Apple brew is specially made by Jody’s mother, and it is a drink she has had since young.

Grin Affair is one of those little gems that you want to tell everyone.
I will definitely make a return visit and relish these superbly addictive and heavenly, gorgeous rainbow-like jar cakes.

Grin Affair
Address:
3 Everton Park #01-77A Singapore 080003
Tel: (+65) 8222 2678
Website: http://grinaffair.com/

From – http://issuu.com/liyen/docs/july25-august7_03 (Pg 1),  http://issuu.com/liyen/docs/july25-aug7_32 (Pg 2)

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