Ms Teo Ser Lee is better known as an etiquette and image consultant, part-time DJ and former beauty queen.
Now, she is also a chef.
The founder-director of etiquette consultancy Protocol Academy started selling her own brand of glutinous rice on Facebook in December.
Called 8 Treasures Glutinous Rice by Teo Ser Lee, it has dried oyster, scallop, mushroom, shrimp, minced pork, Chinese sausage, peanut and glutinous rice and costs $10.80 a box (serves two).
Ms Teo, 52, told The New Paper: “Glutinous rice is not a luxurious meal, but it is made with a lot of passion. I have always loved anything that has to do with food.”
These days, she prepares her signature dish of close to a decade in her kitchen at home and has been working hard to fulfil some 50 orders, which have flooded her e-mail inbox for the festive season.
Her sister-in-law bought 10 boxes to show her support.
Ms Teo said: “I have had to go home in between training sessions to prepare the ingredients so that I have time to meet the deadlines.
“A lot of scheduling work has to be done.”
She cooked the dish for a Christmas dinner on her friends’ requests and it was then that she decided to explore turning her hobby into a business.
“Because I already had a main job, I never thought my passion for cooking could become a business. My friends convinced me and it all happened by chance,” said Ms Teo, whose forte is local cuisine.
She has also made curry and dumplings for friends.
The glutinous rice recipe was taught to Ms Teo more than 20 years ago by her late mother’s hawker friend.
“I wanted to learn the dish because my mother and my then boyfriend liked it a lot, but the hawkers would fry the rice, so the dish was oily.
“I wanted to see if I could make a healthier version,” she said.
Ms Teo uses a tablespoon of olive oil instead and steams the rice after frying it for a few minutes.
The dish also has a special place in her heart as it reminds her of her mother, who died seven years ago.
Ms Teo said: “She would help me prepare the ingredients and she would taste the dish before I served it.”
However, as her mum’s health deteriorated, Ms Teo was left to do it on her own.
“She taught me to enjoy rice to the last grain,” she recalled.
Ms Teo hopes to expand to a central kitchen and put her product on supermarket shelves, adding: “I am taking it one step at a time and looking out for feedback.
“I am open to seeing where this takes me.”
This article was first published at The New Paper.