Taufik Batisah doesn't need an introduction, but we're writing one anyway.
First Singapore Idol
In 2004, he was crowned the first Singapore Idol, paving his way towards a lustrous career in the entertainment industry not just in Singapore, but in the region.
You name it, he has probably done it: released albums, sung a national day song, acted in television series and movies, and even performed in musicals.
In recent years, he's proven to be more than just a multi-hyphenate in the entertainment scene, but in other fields as well.
Last we checked, Taufik is also a real estate agent and the co-founder of a fried chicken restaurant.
To call him a go-getter would be quite an understatement.
After winning "Singapore Idol", it's only natural for the then-23-year-old to dive right into the local show business.
However, the reality is — as Taufik told Mothership in a phone call — that there is a limited lifespan in the entertainment industry, especially in a country as small as Singapore.
"Coming from a country with a really tiny population, you need to make use of every single opportunity that you have to keep pushing forward to reinvent yourself and remain relevant."
After years of music-making, he thought it was just a natural progression to start his own business.
So in 2018, he opened fried chicken restaurant Chix Hot Chicken.
Why fried chicken, you ask?
"My favourite food is fried chicken, I get high off my own supply every time I go to the shop. Since I realised that, I started paying for my own food whenever I go to the shop," he said.
According to the singer, he can easily wolf down six of Chix's chicken wings (that's six wings and six drumlets) in one seating.
Finding passion in his favourite food
Business was doing pretty well in the first couple of years, as Taufik recounted the good times they had, including holding their first chicken challenge where participants competed to eat "insanely spicy" jumbo chicken tenders.
He said: "That was one of my fondest memories at Chix."
Of course, this happened before the Covid-19 pandemic threw a spanner in the works.
"In all honesty, we actually opened up a second outlet [in March 2021] and it closed [in September 2021]," he shared.
The main culprit? The ever-changing Covid-19 dine-in restrictions.
"It really takes a hit in the F&B line. There's delivery, but the breakeven is not that great because you have to pay the delivery company and other costs. So we have to depend on customers coming down," he explained.
While Chix has a reserve fund that helped to tide the restaurant over for a while, they also had to constantly reinvent themselves in order to stay afloat.
"We had to quickly pivot within a month to start our delivery process island-wide. And then we had to figure out how to get the food to our customers the best way we can because honestly, fried chicken and fries... Once it reaches from central to Jurong or Pasir Ris, it's not as nice anymore."
Now that things are pretty settled, Taufik said that the team remains optimistic.
"We're just going to continue to push forward and hopefully open up another outlet. It's in the works as well, somewhere possibly closer to the central-west. We'll see how it goes. Chix Hot Chicken is a long game and we are very optimistic about it."
Took a SkillsFuture course in real estate
We'd imagine running an F&B business takes a lot of one's time and effort.
But a year later, Taufik felt the itch to expand his skills again. This time, in real estate.
"It was more of a conscious effort on my part because I've been in this industry for 16-17 years, right? That's quite a long time, so I felt like I needed to diversify myself," he said.
In 2019, he used his SkillsFuture credits and sat for the notoriously tough Real Estate Salesperson Examination, which he passed on his first try.
Taufik acknowledged that he is lucky to have his brother, fellow real estate agent Mustaffa Batisah, to shadow and learn from.
Two years into the stint, he has made almost 150 transactions so far.
"For real estate, I get a different high because being able to plan someone's property journey. Handling at least S$500,000 worth of property on the daily is a huge responsibility [...]. That gives me a different kind of motivation when I can complete a transaction seamlessly and see the happiness on their faces."
What's his age, again?
Believe it or not, Taufik recently turned 40 (yes, that's how you know you're old too).
So where is this fountain of youth that he's drinking from?
After he burst out laughing, he said he has "no idea," much to our disappointment, and that it's "god's gift".
"It probably came from my dad and mum, but it's not the same for my brothers," he quickly bantered.
"It's funny because when I turned 18, I was so freaking annoyed because everyone thought I was still 14. When I turned 20, they thought I was 16 or 18. I was trying to look grown up and all that. I guess now that I've turned 40, hey, that's great for me!
All of you who are young and trying to look old, guys, just enjoy it. So when you're my age, you're probably still going to look young."
Entertainment is his first love
Despite having his schedule packed with properties and fried chicken, the pioneer Singapore Idol has never forgotten his roots.
He hinted that if time permits, he'll probably put out some new music by the end of 2022.
Taufik said: "Singing and entertainment is my first love. I mean, that one I wouldn't even call it work!"
In fact, he told us that he has been squeezing some time in between work to practice for his set at Mediacorp's annual New Year's Eve countdown "Let's Celebrate 2022" held at The Float @ Marina Bay.
The singer will be performing a fast medley of songs that his fans will be familiar with.
"I'm just going to have fun on stage and hopefully this energy that I'm giving will translate to the viewers at home."
"Let's Celebrate 2022" will stream live on meWATCH, Channel 5 and Mediacorp Entertainment on YouTube on Dec. 31, 11pm.
Top photo from @taufikbatisah on Instagram.