Our Founder, Mrs. Choo Yen Lan first moved to Singapore in 1966 as a young newly-wed to escape the atrocities during the civil unrest in Indonesia at the time. The couple’s new life in Singapore was challenging as they had brought little with them. Undaunted, Mrs. Choo kept her father’s parting words to her close to her heart: if nothing else, they had God and His Blessings.
To supplement her husband’s takings as a book-keeper, Mrs.Choo realized her cooking skills could be put to good use and began making and selling her signature pineapple tarts and birthday cakes. When the orders started pouring in, the couple decided to expand on the business. After painstakingly raising the capital with some backing from her mother and sister, Mrs. Choo and her husband opened their first confectionery school and bakery in Ghim Moh in 1980. They named the shop “Smiling Orchid”, a direct translation of her name and a reference to the orchids featured on Singapore’s currency notes of the time. Mrs. Choo explains, “My husband commented how nice it would be if all the orchids in the notes smiled at us.”
In 1985, the couple turned to food and catering to mitigate the decrease in demand for pastries and cakes during the recession. Operating from rented premises at Blk 78 Commonwealth Drive, the business flourished. After Blk 78 was demolished, the business moved to MacPherson Kampong Ampat 171-#02-01. From there, the business expanded and soon reached a million-dollar turnover. Even so, Mrs. Choo never stops striving even today to improve and create better food and pastries for her customers, an endeavor that she’s happy to say has been recognized by the many awards and accolades The Smiling Orchid has collected over the years.