International Women’s Day, celebrated on March 8 every year, recognizes the achievements of women throughout history and across the globe. The day honors women from different backgrounds and cultures, banding together to fight for gender parity and women’s rights.

This International Women’s Day, we celebrate ASEAN women ‘foodpreneurs’ who are making their mark in the food industry.

Dessert Queen

Singapore’s dessert queen, Janice Wong started the 2am:dessertbar, in collaboration with Group MMM. The desserts, handcrafted by Janice, are as delectable as they come. The Chocolate H20 and Chocolate Tarts are best-sellers. Savory side dishes like Gyoza and Roasted Chicken Tacos are just as popular. Following her success with the 2am:dessertbar, Janice established another eponymous dessert restaurant called JANICE WONG, and has embarked on global collaborations with Paradise City Seoul and Busan, Wonderbox and Harrods department store in London. And if that’s not enough to keep her busy, Janice launched another venture (2am:lab), a collaborative kitchen and think-tank for aspiring chefs.

Cookhouse Honcho

Huen Su San’s Cookhouse is the first community-based co-sharing kitchen space in Malaysia. Located in Petaling Jaya, the cloud kitchen provides kitchen facilities for food entrepreneurs looking to hone their skills. Su San conceptualized the idea from her experience in the F&B industry. Recognizing the huge gap between food events and spaces, she saw the urgent need to provide an alternative shared space for food businesses looking to scale up production, without having to invest in expensive kitchen equipment. The space consists of five private kitchen studios, Asian and Western kitchens, and even a packing facility. Cookhouse has since built a community of partners and collaborators from logistics companies, tech companies and food service providers such as Food Market Hub, Aliments and many more.

Huen Su San’s Cookhouse is the first community-based co-sharing kitchen space (Photo: Lifestyle Asia Hong Kong)

Innovative Curator

Abba Napa, founding partner of The Moment Group, is a trailblazer who is making a positive impact on the food and hospitality industry in the Philippines. Having grown up around good food and restaurants, Abba and her two partners developed a keen understanding of the constantly evolving Filipino market. As creative director, she spearheads the innovation and incubation of the group’s ground-breaking restaurants, ventures and collaborations that aim to add value and variety to the Philippine dining scene. The company is home to 12 food brands and 45 including home-grown spaces like 8Cuts Burgers, Manam Comfort Filipino and global brand, Din Tai Fung.

Abba Napa brings news innovations to the Filipino dining scene (Photo: Generation T Asia)

 Social Entrepreneurs

Steps with Theera, founded by dynamic duo, Max Simpson and Theeta Hotrakitya is a vocational training center for people with special needs and disabilities to learn life skills and accumulate work experience at a coffee shop setting.  But more than that, the social enterprise offers a platform for the community to learn about autism and other special needs. When trainees complete the Steps program, they are matched with businesses that hire them in different services, ranging from hospitality and catering industries to woodworking, office staff, designers and architects. Steps with Theera has expanded to run three coffee shops, two training centers and two zero-waste shops located in Bangkok and Phuket. With the support of 13 employment partners, namely The Commons, Roast, Hyatt Regency, Rembrandt and more, the program is rapidly growing to accommodate more trainees.

Steps with Theera founders Theeta Hotrakitya and Max Simpson run a vocational training centre and coffee shops (Photo: Steps with Theera)