Shepherd’s Pie is one of the ultimate comfort foods available to humankind. The dish is so beloved that there are variations all over the world! From the Indonesian pastel tutup to the Canadian Pâté Chinois, someone in the world is eating Shepherd’s Pie right now and loving it.
And now we have our very own Singaporean spin on the dish! Enter ETC Shepherd’s Pie, which is a home-based bakery helmed by Esther Cheong with some help from her husband. We chat with her about the origin of ETC Shepherd’s Pie, what pies Singaporeans like to eat and more.
Hello Esther. Thanks so much for talking to us. Could you tell our readers a little about yourself?
Hi Murph! Thank you for approaching us.
I’m a freelance graphic designer, currently working from home. I’m also certified to handle food by the Singapore Food Agency (SFA).
My husband helps me out with ETC Shepherd’s Pie even though he has a day job himself.
We are also the parents of a 4 year old cutie pie.
Why Shepherd’s Pie in particular? Where did the recipe come from?
The recipe came from a friend, many years ago.
Ever since she taught me how to make Shepherd’s Pie, I made pies whenever it was time to bring something to a party. Of course, I also made pies for every Christmas celebration.
Fast forward to the future, where I’ve put my own spin on her recipe after some trial and error. Of course, having access to Google and YouTube helps a lot!
How did ETC Shepherd’s Pie begin?
ETC Shepherd’s Pie happened quite organically.
Last December, my husband and I decided we wanted to give our friends homemade Shepherd’s Pies as Christmas gifts. We wanted their feedback and mulled over potentially setting up a home-based bakery in January, if our pies were a hit.
Our friends told their friends about our pies, which subsequently ordered some to try. And then they told their friends. A whole avalanche of enquiries poured in, on what other flavours we had, how to order…
My husband, who is better with numbers, came out with the price list. And we advised them how they could reach us to order. December was a crazy month for us; the response was just overwhelming!
Who is behind ETC Shepherd’s Pie?
I consider myself to be on the frontline of ETC Shepherd’s Pie as I’m the one doing all the baking. I also take care of the marketing and design part of the business. My husband balances our budget and we are both involved when it comes to delivering the pies!
What does the ETC in your brand name, ETC Shepherd’s Pie stand for?
It’s actually from my name, Esther Cheong. We also liked how ETC can stand for Et Cetera, a Latin phrase that means “and the rest” or “and other similar things”.
What kind of Shepherd’s Pie do you do? Is it English style or more like pastel tutup, the Indonesian version?
Neither. I would say it’s more of a local version?
Because the recipe has been tweaked to suit our tastebuds, it’s beginning to have an identity of its own! An identity that is not English, American or Indonesian.
Plus, we use either minced beef or chicken for our pies. No lamb. So I wouldn’t call it a traditional English Shepherd’s Pie, in case I offend their ardent fans!
Is ETC Shepherd’s Pie your full-time gig?
Not at the moment.
We don’t know where this venture will take us or how far things will go. So, for now, we will just ride on the wave and see where it takes us.
Do your neighbours know about your home-based business and do they get free pie?
Yes, of course they do!
I have a regular customer who lives in the neighborhood. He’s ordered from us once a week ever since he learnt about us! So far, we haven’t given them any free pies. But moving forward, we will get them to sample our new flavor, Sichuan Spicy.
Currently, there are 4 flavours from customers to choose from. There’s the Original, Cheese, Truffle Oil and a brand new flavour called Sichuan Spicy. Can you tell us more about your Sichuan Spicy Shepherd Pies? Are there levels of spiciness customers can pick from?
Actually, our 4 flavors are: Original, Cheese, Truffle Oil and lastly, Truffle Oil & Cheese!
And now there’s Sichuan Spicy!
The minced chicken, at the base, is infused with Sichuan sauce, topped with our creamy mash. It’s both tangy and spicy with no jelat aftertaste! Unlike its “bigger brothers”, it’s served in a mini size foil, which comes in a pack of 4.
As of choosing the different levels of spiciness, I’m afraid it’s going to be one standard level. But what we can do is adjust the amount of sauce if customer wants it fiery hot!
If you were stuck on a desert island with a microwave oven and could only eat one type of pie from your own reserves, which flavour would you pick?
Wow, that’s a tough question. I would be torn between Truffle Oil & Cheese and Sichuan Spicy.
What are your bestsellers?
On the record, it’s Truffle Oil & Cheese. But I think our Sichuan Spicy will be close behind when more people get to try it.
Will ETC Shepherd’s Pie expand its menu one day to also sell sweet pies? Or maybe, shortcrust pastry like quiches?
Yes, we will be expanding our menu. We have quite a few Shepherd’s Pie flavors in the pipeline, so do keep a look out.
As for sweet pies, maybe? If potato chips coated with chocolate exist, I don’t see why we can’t do the same with our layer of mash?
|Flavour||Single Pax||Duo Pax|
|Truffle Oil & Cheese||$20||$28|
And that’s all for this week’s #LocalBrandSPOTLight! Tune in next week for more!