Filzah Miranti Binte Mohd Dawood, who is in her 20s, emerged as one of the youngest winners of the Hawker Heritage Award at the SG Hawker Seminar on Jan. 11, 2021.
The award honours hawker brands that have been established for at least 30 years and have been passed down the generations.
Filzah is one of the hawkers behind Gerai Nenek Obek, a 57-year-old family-owned stall located at Geylang Serai Market.
She is the fourth generation to join her family's business, which sells authentic Malay dishes such as Nasi Rawon, Nasi Jenganan, and Nasi Ambeng.
Her great-grandmother first opened the store in 1963 and the family has continued to use the same recipe since.
Helped out since she was 19
Filzah explained how her mother had helped out at the stall since the former was in secondary two.
"I've seen her work so hard every single day and I always go back to the kitchen to see how she has been cooking every single day to serve the customers traditional food," she said.
As for Filzah, she began helping out at the stall when she was 19, and revealed that all the dishes are prepared "from scratch":
"I start at 12 midnight just to [prepare] our dishes manually, so we boiled all our beef, our lungs, everything from scratch. We buy the vegetables from the market just below, cut it all by ourselves and blend the paste by ourselves."
As many as 30 dishes are sold daily at Gerai Nenek Obek from as early as 7am.
Support for hawkers
Filzah expressed her appreciation to the various organisations for helping the older hawkers with technology, such as contactless payment and delivery platforms.
The National Environmental Agency (NEA) had also given grants to help the hawkers bring their businesses online. For instance, a one-time S$500 grant was given to hawkers to defray the costs of providing food delivery services for customers.
Support was also offered to hawkers in the form of rental waivers and subsidies for cleaning services during the circuit breaker period, when dining in was not allowed.
Other winners at the SG Hawker Seminar include Tan Wee Yang from Ah Tan Wings, who won the Enterprising Hawker Award.
Another is Elayne Ang from Tian Kee Carrot Cake & Hokkien Mee, who won the Promising New Hawker Award.
Top photos via Gerai Nenek Obek on Facebook