A retiree kickstarts a second career selling pies
By Teo Pau Lin, 20 February 2005
There's nothing flashy about this shepherd's pie.
PLUS POINT : Pie Plus' hearty pies are made with a lot of heart.
It has the usual combination of minced beef, vegetables and mushrooms, covered with a thick slab of mashed potatoes and topped with a sprinkling of cheddar shreds.
If you eat one outside of its shop, Pie Plus, you may even dismiss it as average, like the no-frills type dished out at home.
But dine in at the breezy cafe in Liang Seah Street and you'd be charmed by an extra ingredient permeating the place - a whole lot of heart.
Former shipyard engineer Philip Soo (inset), 61, opened the shop two weeks ago as a second career to while away his retirement years.
Retired six years ago, he had taken on occasional odd jobs in kitchens and fisheries, even drove a taxi, to keep himself busy.
'But it's harder to get jobs now because people think I'm too old,' he says.
Brashly, he created a job for himself by setting up a shop selling his beloved recipe for shepherd's pie.
'My children like my pies, so I thought I'll sell them for more people to eat,' adds the father of two children, aged 22 and 28.
At $3.80 each, the pies are hearty, made from potatoes from the United States, lean meat and herbs.
He had learnt the recipe from cookbooks only six years ago when he started taking on new hobbies after his retirement.
He sank $60,000 of his savings into the shop, which was formerly occupied by a bak kut teh restaurant, and personally designed the interiors - a casual nook with upholstered booth seats and well-scrubbed tile floors.
He also roped in two retiree friends to help out - former cafe worker Goh Kian Doo, 61, and former marine engineer Rick Souw, 58.
Apart from the traditional shepherd's pie made with minced meat, Mr Soo also offers three other fillings - chicken and vegetable, curry chicken and fish and vegetable - all at $3.80 each.
I liked the traditional and chicken fillings best. Complementing every creamy bite of mashed potato is a simple, home-baked taste.
The chicken and vegetable, in particular, boasts a lovely sweetness from the chicken and creamy sauce.
Curry chicken, though, went a little too oddly against mashed potato for me.
The fish came in the form of deep-fried, bread-crumbed fillet, which was too chunky and tough.
Still, the cafe has already earned a few fast fans.
'A tourist couple from Manchester came and said they'll definitely come back for one last pie before they board the plane to go home,' says Mr Soo proudly.
Now, that's a real compliment, whatever your age.
8 Liang Seah Street
#01-03 Liang Seah Court
Opens: 10am to 8pm, Mondays to Fridays; 11.30am to 8pm on weekends