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Thread: Money's boring, says celebrity chef

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2011

    Default Money's boring, says celebrity chef

    me & my money

    Money's boring, says celebrity chef

    Chef In Black's Emmanuel Stroobant provides the passion for his business while his wife manages the finances

    Published on Sep 23, 2012

    By Joyce Teo

    Chef and restaurant owner Emmanuel Stroobant has a string of restaurants under his belt, so he must know a thing or two about finance, but he tells you money is not a subject he relishes.

    "I don't like money. I find money boring," he says.

    Mr Stroobant, known for his television series Chef In Black, has a new programme called 36 Ways To Live on the Asian Food Channel. He wrapped up the filming in June in just two weeks.

    The 44-year-old vegetarian is also a restaurant consultant and a certified yoga instructor.

    "I do things because I like to do them, not because of the money. I don't think I will be any less happy if I don't have much money. I am happy to enjoy a business-class trip, but if I don't, it's no problem. But my wife is a different story."

    Ms Edina Hong, 40, who answers quite a few questions on behalf of her hubby, says he has no sense of the value of money, so she manages his finances. They work well as a team - she looks after the money while he provides the passion for the business, she says.

    "When I first met him, he had only RM300 in his bank account," she recalls.

    Malaysian-born Ms Hong is the co-owner of upmarket French restaurant Saint Pierre in Central Mall and director of the Emmanuel Stroobant Group, which also runs casual eateries such as Picotin and Brussels Sprouts.

    Mr Stroobant, a Belgian, met his wife in Malaysia. They moved to Singapore in 1999, the year they got married. Both are permanent residents. They have two adopted children - Keira, three, and Mia, two months old.

    Q: Are you a spender or saver?

    Neither. My wife does enough of both.

    I don't like shopping and I am not into brands. When I find something that I like, I will buy two or three pieces of it. I spent on drinking and partying when I was younger but now I generally don't really spend much unless it's on my daughters. I wish I can say the same about my wife.

    Money is, of course, important, but there are other things that are equally important like health, a balanced lifestyle and spending time with my children.

    (Mr Stroobant gave up smoking and cut down on drinking three years ago when their first child arrived. "When you have kids, you don't want to die too young," he says.)

    The things I do spend on are my kitchen tools and yoga. I would fly to Sydney or elsewhere for some yoga convention or workshops. These can cost $500 for three days. I have a $6,000 Pacojet ice-cream maker at home and I just bought a very precise Clifton thermometer for $400.

    Q: How much do you charge to your credit cards every month?

    It varies from $1,000 to $50,000, depending on if I am travelling or not. Edina is quite fussy about where she stays and we travel about two or three times a year.

    Q: What financial planning have you done for yourself?

    The investment that we do is really in our businesses. We don't borrow to open restaurants. When our restaurants make money, then we will open more.

    I am now working on the designs for two new restaurants - another Brussels Sprouts outlet and a Picotin outlet - coming up in Sentosa.

    But we did buy a high-floor, well-located condominium in River Valley just as the market was picking up at the end of 2006. We also bought a house in late 2010 which we are still in the midst of redesigning. My wife has it planned. We will move into the house when it's ready and rent out the condo. The rental will cover the mortgage.

    Q: Moneywise, what were your growing-up years like?

    I come from a very modest environment, but we had a nice life in the countryside. We used to go on holidays in campsites.

    I used to spend a lot of time with my maternal grandparents, who were better off. We had everything we needed but nothing too extravagant.

    I was an only child until 16. My dad remarried and had three more children after that. He did many different jobs, from running a cafe and nightclubs to being a marketing manager in large international firms, while my mum was an interior designer and an artist.

    I left my family when I was 15 and found my own resources early in life. I worked at various restaurants as a dishwasher and at construction sites until I became a kitchen apprentice at 18.

    Q: How did you get interested in investing?

    I have no real interest in investing. My wife is the one who makes the investment decisions.

    Q: What properties do you own?

    We have a 2,000 sq ft condo unit in River Valley, which is a stone's throw from Great World City, and a house in Sixth Avenue. The condo was purchased in 2006 for $1.5 million. The house, with a land size of 4,000 sq ft, was purchased for $3.5 million.

    When it's ready, it will have a built-up space of 6,000 sq ft, with a basement and a small lap pool.

    Both have since increased in value.

    Q: What's the most extravagant thing you have bought?

    I spent $75,000 on a painting by a Canadian female artist four years ago. I got it from Opera Gallery and I love to look at it every day.

    Q: What's your retirement plan?

    None. I don't think I will ever stop working. I keep thinking that retirement means fishing or golfing, neither of which I enjoy much. I think I would love to slow down and do stuff like teaching yoga or cooking with children.

    Q: Home is now...

    A condo unit in River Valley. I have been in Singapore for 13 years and have no plans to move anywhere any time soon.

    Q: I drive...

    A black Audi Q5, which I still think has two wheels too many.

    I sold my Harley Davidson bike last year as I was not riding it much after the arrival of my first daughter.

    [email protected]


    Q: What is your worst investment to date?

    It was my first investment, an IT fund. I followed my boss' advice back in 1999 to invest in it.

    I was going to put quite a lot in it but my wife refused so, in the end, I invested about $10,000.

    The fund went down by half after I invested in it and eventually collapsed completely.

    Q: What is your best investment to date?

    My business. With our first Brussels Sprouts outlet, we broke even in six weeks.

    If we were to sell it, it would be worth a nice sum.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2011


    all these ang moh think like that thats why we have the....


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2011


    kns got 4000sq ft house and 2000sq ft condo...what kok he talking money got no value....go and stay 3rm flat then...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2008


    Malaysian wife wants to make husband does not hanky panky.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2008


    Quote Originally Posted by radha08
    kns got 4000sq ft house and 2000sq ft condo...what kok he talking money got no value....go and stay 3rm flat then...
    He means money is oozing out of all his holes from the businesses that money has no value .. i.e, He cannot spend quick enough to deplete it.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2009


    He is an extremely lucky ang mo who made it here. His wife is very very, ..err... clever...

    His St Pierre is always full. He managed to build up contacts with all the big spenders on a personal level. These high spenders can call him for a dinner or lunch any time, no need prior booking and no such thing as full. They spend like thousands. Once u have this regular groups, u have ur cash cow.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2009


    I despise people who make lots of money and say money is boring, very hypocritical. If money is boring, what is giving him his d9 property and the lifestyle he now enjoys?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2011


    whats the big deal he only a can of sardines and make hot anybody can cook...wahahaha

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2011


    Quote Originally Posted by Regulators
    I despise people who make lots of money and say money is boring, very hypocritical. If money is boring, what is giving him his d9 property and the lifestyle he now enjoys?
    ya this one major TCSS

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2011


    Perhaps he finds money boring cos he does not have the time to spend it.

  11. #11
    teddybear's Avatar
    teddybear is offline Global recession is coming....
    Join Date
    Mar 2009


    You don't understand? Money got no value to him because he got so so so much until he don't know how to spend and spending them is so tiring, spend spend spend until dog-tired also spent just <0.0000001% of his net worth!

    Quote Originally Posted by radha08
    kns got 4000sq ft house and 2000sq ft condo...what kok he talking money got no value....go and stay 3rm flat then...

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2011


    If he thinks that money is boring, why want to earn so much money. Work for charity loh or donate all his money lah. He has so much money until don't know where to spend and yet say such a "feng liang hua". Without so much money, can he enjoy his life, can buy or do anything without consideration of the prices. Looks like he pushes all the things to his wife as though that his wife is so greedy for money. One "black" face and one "white" face.

    Yes, money is not everything but without money, it is "wang wang bu ren" but of course don't be a "money slave".

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