Carpenter and Cook Singapore
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Carpenter and Cook

Issue 07

Inspired by London’s quaint shops and eclectic neighbourhoods, Cordon Bleu-trained chef, Sim Li-Shenn and carpenter Phoebe Teo, together with friend Eunice Yeo, established Carpenter and Cook in June 2012. The quaint vintage café-boutique is a clear reflection of the food and furniture passions of its three owners, where locals pop by to enjoy a nice cup of tea and a slice of cake.

Carpenter and Cook Singapore

Shenn, the baker, works with her team to craft a daily assortment of tarts, cakes and viennoiseries. Phoebe, the carpenter, keeps C&C stocked with vintage conversation pieces sourced from the UK and Europe. Eunice (the “and” of Carpenter and Cook) styles, bakes, and makes things look inviting, while also running an event styling and vintage prop rental company called Heaven in Wild Flowers.

The enterprising women of this part-bakery, part-café, part-vintage furniture shop, part-event space and all-round warm and inviting environment have recently opened a second location in the centre of the island, which includes a takeaway deli.

Carpenter and Cook Singapore

INTERVIEW: Shenn Sim, Co-Owner, Carpenter and Cook {Singapore}

01 Where are you based? 
Our first cafe is based in Upper Bukit Timah, in the western part of the island. We chose to set up within a residential estate because whilst living in London, we (my two partners and I) appreciated how most neighbourhoods enjoyed proximity to a small quaint collection of shops around the corner. We want to be a part of the local community and provide neighbours with a cosy place to have a cup of tea and a slice of cake. In line with our philosophy, we set up our second shop – a takeaway deli, in the centre of the island also within a lovely charming housing estate.

02 What got you into baking?
I took some time of my office job to attend a patisserie course in Le Cordon Bleu in London. As it was a part-time course, I spent whatever time I had outside of class in a bakery around the corner from where i lived. I fell in love with baking professionally and never looked back. We set up Carpenter and Cook as my we wanted to combine our love for vintage wares and good quality baked goods into a cafe.

Carpenter and Cook Singapore

03 What type of baked goods can be found at Carpenter and Cook?
We have an assortment of tarts and cakes, and recently introduced a range of viennosorie. And scones (plain, sweet and savoury!) We also serve up sandwiches and an ever-changing variety of quiches. Our shelves are lined with home (store) baked biscuits, granola, marshmallows and jams. You can check out our menu

04 Are there any baked goods or pastries that are unique to Singapore in your shop?
I’d like to think that our passionfruit meringue tart *was* unique in Singapore! :) But I believe our passion fruit marshmallows remain unique, so is my all-time favourite lemon drizzle loaf!

05 Who are your baking inspirations around the world? 
Michel Roux (uncle of Michel Roux Jr and brother of Albert Roux- also famous chefs) – his professionalism and dedication to his craft is outstanding. I had the pleasure of having his selection of petit fours at Waterside Inn, Bray. Perfection is an understatement.

Carpenter and Cook Singapore

06 If you were to enjoy a slice a cake somewhere else than your own shop, where in the world would it be, and what kind of cake is it?
I had the most amazing eclair whilst overlooking the Mornington coast from a tiny Austrian bakery in Mornington, Victoria in Australia. The choux pastry was just moist enough, the cream was fresh and so light, and the chocolate had a good balance of bitter and sweet. That was only recently topped by my birthday cake from The Patissier - a wonderful cake shop in Singapore. It was a pistachio sponge cake layered with maple mousse that was made more special as I got to enjoy it in the company of the most important people to me.

07 How often do you develop new recipes? 
We struggle with this because every time we introduce something new, we have to remove something from the display which leads to some dissatisfied customers! Our counter is now crammed with goodies! Despite this obstacle, we try to introduce new items once every three months as it would be too mundane for the kitchen to produce the same menu for too long! We are sometimes guided by the produce that’s in season!

08 What is next for Carpenter and Cook?
We just opened our second shop and as it’s a takeaway deli, so our next challenge will be to stock it with even more yummy food – salads, sandwiches, almost-ready meals!

Carpenter and Cook Singapore
Photo Source: Eunice Yeo, Kelvin Ma

09 When you entertain family and friends at home, what can always be found on your table (either food or objects)?
A large-ish ceramic salad bowl my husband and I bought whilst traveling around Tuscany back in 2008. It is painted with bright yellow lemons and reminds me of our summer holiday there where we indulged in great food, lovely wine and brilliant weather!

10 Are there any cultural traditions related to entertaining at home that are unique to Singapore that you can share with us?
I used to think one should always remove their shoes before entering someone’s home, but I’ve learnt that it is rather unique to Singapore/Asia. This is not a tradition, but your guests should not leave unless their stomachs are close to bursting and their eyeballs popping! And crazy as it sounds, Singaporeans love their food, so it is very likely that they will be planning their next meal whilst enjoying their current one!

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