Mother, entrepreneur and chef enthusiast, Grace Kee wants to welcome you into her home and her history with an exclusive dining experience that shares her beloved grandmother’s recipes with the wider world.
“I majored in zoology in university and worked at the zoo as my first job. After which I met Damian D’Silva who currently runs Rempapa and we opened a catering company – Rent A Chef – and restaurant, Soul Kitchen, together. That was my first foray into F&B at 24 years old,” explains Grace.
“Although I enjoyed it, being young, I found being an entrepreneur and managing the restaurant finances very tough and was unable to cope, so I went back to the corporate world and joined MTV Asia then subsequently Resorts World Sentosa.
“Now I’m back again to focus on my passion for cooking and sharing traditional dishes,” says Grace.
The shutdown of the entertainment industry brought on by the Covid pandemic saw Grace back in the kitchen with time on her hands, and a desire to share her homemade food.
“As there were no events to run during that period, I started to cook a lot and gifted the food to friends,” explains Grace about how her new venture Good Graces came about.
“I started getting requests to cook more and to sell my rempahs and sambals so I started a small home-based business called 2 Mamas and A Wok with two other partners. That expanded into cooked takeaway food.
“The idea of creating an entertainment space for hosting and dining was always on my mind, so I took back from the tenants an old walk up apartment that I owned to renovate into my own entertainment space.”
Memories of family meals
The idea of creating an intimate dining experience, with a set menu and limited guest numbers is a unique idea in the Singapore culinary market. Good Graces runs only three days a week and is already fully booked until August with the next dates available in September 2022. The menu is based around heritage-inspired dishes that explore Grace’s personal memories from her grandmother’s recipes.
“This is really my passion project so I want to make each dinner experience special and each guest walk away feeling like they have had such a fun night – good food, good company, good ambience. The vibe I’m going for is more fun, playful, a mix of modern with traditional,” says Grace when asked to describe the concept of Good Graces.
Grace’s passion for cooking is evidenced by her commitment to do all the work herself; her current menu is similar to a tasting menu featuring three snacks, an appetiser, a soup, four mains with rice and a dessert bar.
“The hard work is the rempahs as you need to stir constantly and cook for over four hours for all the ingredients to caramelise and meld together and not have a raw taste. I make the rempah in a big batch, portion out, pack and freeze,” Grace explains.
“I have a helper that helps me to prepare the ingredients – peel shallots, garlic etc – but in general I try to cook everything myself. I enjoy it so I don’t find it a chore. My favourite part is experimenting and creating new dishes. I find it a very exciting process.
“I think it’s all about time management and scheduling in what I need to cook,” Grace says, when asked about how she manages it all. “For example, the stock for the Hee Peow Soup is made three days before, then I roll the pork balls the night before and on the morning of the dinner, I add the cabbage, fish maw to the stock, cook for two hours before adding in the balls.”
An intimate experience
For Grace, hosting Good Graces is as much about meeting new people as it is about cooking fabulous food.
“Cooking in itself is very therapeutic, but after a while it does get boring being alone and talking to yourself which is what I was doing when I was making rempahs for sale. I enjoy seeing the reaction of people to the food, getting feedback & comments on how to improve, it sparks more ideas in my head,” she explains.
Although life has mostly gone back to normal after the lockdowns were lifted, Grace is planning to continue her culinary journey with Good Graces with thoughts about expanding into takeaway or a catering menu.
“Private dining can only host that many people per day, but I could cook a larger portion and sell it for takeaway to maximise the revenue,” she muses about the future of the brand.
“Currently I’m just really enjoying the learning process and expanding my knowledge and skills.”
Good Graces runs weekly on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evenings with bookings via goodgraces.sg. They are currently booked until August with the next dates available in September 2022. Follow Good Graces on Instagram at @goodgraces.sg, and follow Grace at @albinopython15.
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