As one of our previous interviewees, Lizzy Loel, experienced, starting a family and working in the catering sector are sometimes a little hard to do at the same time (A day in the life of a restaurant critic).
Alvin Teo, founder and owner of Darwin-based chefs supplier Chefs Circle, found the exact same problem a few years ago while working as a chef – it can be pretty hard to juggle a young family and the very long hours often demanded of jobbing professional chefs.
So he made the big decision to stop working as a chef and use his professional knowledge by starting a business supplying chefs and professional kitchens in Darwin. The business mainly supplies work clothing and related items and chefs knives.
When Alvin set the business up nine years ago, it was a big leap in the dark, but it allowed him to work more flexible hours around his family life. This sometimes means he is working pretty early in the morning or late at night, but it gives him time with his kids during the day, something that wouldn’t have been possible in his previous career.
Chefs Circle supplies many of the pubs, clubs, hotels, cafes and restaurants in Darwin. Having always lived in Darwin, Alvin is well plugged in to the catering business in the Top End and understands their needs. The business delivers to its customers on a daily basis and that personal contact gives him a unique opportunity for feedback on the products he stocks.
“Chefs are, unsurprisingly perhaps, always on the lookout for a very good knife and the I.O.Shen range is establishing itself as a keenly priced very good knife.” says Alvin. “Japanese style knives – like the I.O.Shen range – are also gaining in popularity at the moment as they’re a lighter weight than the more traditional German style chefs knives and so easier to use if you’re working a long eight hour shift.”
Chefs Circle is moving with the times and has recently set up a website where chefs and catering businesses can order online. As the company only services the Darwin area, Alvin is still planning regular visits to his customers. In fact he knows he gets the business due to the superior customer service he offers.
“The website is important though – chefs realise they need extra things at all times of the day or night. Now they can jump on the website at any time, knowing that we can deliver pretty quickly.” says Alvin.
So next time you’re in Darwin having a meal, you’re probably eating food prepared by a chef wearing one of Alvin’s chefs uniforms and maybe cut up with an IO Shen chefs knife!
Image: Chefs Circle “We love knives at Chefs Circle”