Mr. Lee Eng Su, co-founder of The Coconut Club, has passed away at the age of 40.
The Coconut Club
Opened in 2016, The Coconut Club has quickly established itself as one of the best Nasi Lemak eating spots in Singapore, earning the coveted Bib Gourmand award.
It was also graced by PM Lee Hsien Loong, who invited Rodrigo Duterte, President of the Philippines, to the restaurant.
According to The Straits Times, Mr. Lee shared his passion for seeing the nasi lemak as more than just a dish, but a “cuisine”.
Many have commended Mr. Lee on his respect for the dish, and his constant belief in consistently making improvements to the dish.
Programme director of a food and beverage (F&B) entrepreneurship course at Singapore Management University (SMU), Mr. Michel Lu reflected:
What he has done is very important for Singapore – to preserve heritage food that is authentic and true. It is done with a lot of care and I have a lot of respect for what they have achieved.
Kf Seetoh from Makansutra also voiced his appreciation for the man, that he poured his heart and soul into creating the perfect dish for people. Despite having earnt the aforementioned Bib Gourmand award, Mr Lee still humbled himself and paid close attention to what his customers sought.
Under his leadership, he has not only brought The Coconut Club as a business to greater heights, but has cultivated the best relationship with his employees by treating them as family.
A 21-year-old SMU student Ms. Laura Chan mentioned:
When he interviewed me for the job, he told me about how everyone is family at the restaurant. When I told him about how much I love my grandparents, he cried because he understood how important that was. That was life-changing for me, because I’ve never met someone so loving. He has always been a beacon of light for all of us.
Ms. Chan’s words are reflective of Mr. Lee’s emphatic spirit, that he brought himself to understand Ms. Chan’s immense love for her grandparents.
Another employee was full-time staff Michelle Paul. While reluctant to stay in the F&B industry, it was through interacting with Mr. Lee that made her love and want to stay in The Coconut Club.
He had a dream for everyone and wanted us to grow.
Another chef, Mr. Nazrin Shah also expressed Mr. Lee’s kindness as the former went through a breakup:
I wasn’t myself then, but instead of firing me, he paid for me to go for therapy sessions.
Mr. Lee was able to look past his employees as mere workers, but got to know each and everyone of them on a personal level.
Mr. Shah later adds:
He always had a dream for educating the community and giving back to society. We want to carry on his legacy.
Mr. Lee has inspired many through his passion for food and for people.
Reflecting a love for flavours and the chase to create something that people would enjoy, Mr. Lee strives to craft the perfect meal. More than eating something tasty, it is the whole experience to create the perfect dish for all.
His love for people is also clear. Mr. Lee simply loved people and wanted to best help them grow and develop.