Despite working in a hawker centre, with muggy conditions and relentless humidity, Aaron Wong hardly breaks a sweat.
There aren't any roaring, open flames inside his stall at Telok Blangah Crescent. Instead, everything is cooked over an induction stove – a deliberate decision on Aaron’s part to keep his work station comfortable. “There are fans to cool me down,” he says. “So I barely even perspire.”
The interior of Jiak Song, which specialises in mee hoon kueh, or handmade noodles, is scrupulously tidy: ingredients are store in cleared boxes, labelled, and stacked neatly on metal shelves. It’s a set-up similar to professional kitchens found in restaurants.
These are just some small adjustments Aaron – a contestant on the inaugural season of Masterchef Singapore – makes to reinvent the way this age-old trade is done. He approaches the vocation with a modern lens, incorporating new equipment and industry best practices into a job that's constantly labelled as unviable and messy.
“The problem we are facing now is that more people are leaving the trade than joining it,” Aaron says. “Because a lot of people, especially the younger generation, have this misconception that being a hawker means having to work in an oily, dirty, wet environment.”