Daryl Yeo Pitches Butter as Singapore’s Newest Hero Ingredient With Atas Butter - Men's Folio
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Daryl Yeo Pitches Butter as Singapore’s Newest Hero Ingredient With Atas Butter

  • By Sadiq Shah

Daryl Yeo Pitches Butter as Singapore’s Newest Hero Ingredient With Atas ButterMeet Daryl Yeo, the founder of Atas Butter who left a career in tech to start his own artisanal butter venture in Singapore.

After 15 years of working in tech, Daryl Yeo decided to look towards a more fulfilling calling in life, and eventually found one that is completely out of tech’s sphere — artisanal butter. A serendipitous trip to Tasmania — which included visits to places like Hobart, Freycinet, Binalong, and Cradle Mountain — was all it took to initiate this unlikely foray into the culinary world. After being inspired by the farm-to-table philosophy and the craftsmen he met during his trip, he began to research and teach himself how to make butter, bringing Atas Butter to life upon his return to Singapore — a pitch for what Daryl believes could be Singapore’s new “hero” ingredient.

Since starting Atas Butter, his homemade artisanal butter has found popularity online and at pop-up markets such as Boutique Fair, amassing a loyal group of supporters. He even began supplying to restaurants at some point. Perhaps the variety of Asian flavours it comes in is why the appeal is real; expect only the likes of kombu, gula melaka and even mala, not your usual truffle or garlic — it’s different in a familiar way. And up until recently, he was churning up to 50kg of butter at home and by himself. Now he procures a small production kitchen downtown, and has extra hands to help him with the physically taxing process of making the butter. We chat with Daryl about his unorthodox journey of learning how to make and love artisanal butter, and taking that leap of faith switching from tech to F&B.

Daryl Yeo Pitches Butter as Singapore’s Newest Hero Ingredient With Atas ButterHi Daryl! Could you explain briefly what you do for a living?

I’m a butter maker!

What makes artisanal butter different from normal butter?
Artisanal products are usually made in a traditional way or non-mechanised manner so for our butter, we believe that the traditional methods of churning rather than using a centrifuge (the more modern, mass-market method) and then manually washing, moulding, and mixing creates a fresher, better and ultimately more delicious product.

How did this love of artisanal butter begin? And where does Tasmania fit in this discovery?
While in Tasmania, I met producers, farmers, craftspeople who were not only bring joy to people through their work but were also extremely happy and proud of the value they created in the world. I wanted to bring this attitude and perspective back home and work on a unique craft (instead of another bakery or café) that could replicate what I saw in Tasmania. So, it’s not so much that I love butter, but butter is simply the medium I chose to work in to impact people’s lives.

Where/how did you learn to make artisanal butter?
I’m self-taught so a ton of research, trial and error and failed batches of butter!

Your butter comes in a range of flavours. How do you come up these flavours? Do you have a personal favourite?
My personal favourite is the Gula Melaka Butter because I have a sweet tooth. In terms of how we develop our flavours, it’s not rocket science. If we think something is yummy, we imagine it in a butter and try to R&D that flavour. We don’t do truffle or garlic butter because that’s already been done.

You have also partnered with other businesses like Luke’s Lobster, which includes your kombu and mala butter for two of their new flavours of lobster rolls. How did you find the right butter to pair with the lobster roll?
Typically, lobsters and other shellfish are rather “tasteless” so pairing them with our savoury butters was a no-brainer. We also had experimented ourselves with making seafood pasta and the Kombu and Mala butter were perfect flavours for the dish.

Gula Melaka Butter
Kombu Butter
Mala Butter
Yuzu Butter
Unsalted Butter

You took a huge a leap of faith leaving the tech industry of 15 years then jumping into the F&B business. What made you decide to make the jump?
I really wanted to do something that had a more direct impact in people’s lives. I was burnt out from a 15-year tech career staring at computer screens and asking myself why am I doing this for work? The pandemic didn’t help, and work-from-home just pushed me over the edge. I had always wanted to start my own business, so I quit my job in February 2022 to take a year to try some ideas I had. Initially, I went to what I was familiar with, starting some tech businesses which went nowhere. I still felt unfulfilled. But it wasn’t until I went to Tasmania that I fell into food.

How did people around react to your new venture? Were they supportive?
I tend to have many weird ideas for my ventures and in the beginning my family just thought it was yet another weird and silly idea. However, my family didn’t bring any negativity to the table or try to discourage me. In fact, they helped me out at my pop-ups. My parents always gave me the room and support to try things (and fail). I’m very grateful that they have been there with me every step of the way. My wife was also a pillar of support throughout my journey, and I can’t thank her enough.

What were some difficulties you faced since you first started this business?
Keeping costs low. Operating a business in Singapore is very expensive so having to manage that constantly has been very challenging.

What is the one thing you have enjoyed most from your journey of being a business owner?
Seeing customers’ faces light up when they try our product. It’s the same expressions we had when we visited Tasmanian producers.

What tips would you like to share with amateurs on how to experience the best of artisanal butter?
Sometimes simple is best. Butter on warm, fresh sourdough bread that’s not too tangy can be the best way to consume butter.

What advice would give someone that is looking for a career change?
Think about why you’d want this career change. Find that deeper meaning of why and what you’re working for. I would personally substitute “career” with “vocation”. My vocation is the intersection of my talents, what the world needs and my passion. You may not find your raison d’être immediately but take the time to discover and figure it out.

What are your ambitions with Atas Butter?
At Atas Butter, I hope to create opportunities, make a difference, and impact lives. I want to create a company that has a good culture for artisans, an environment conducive to creating great product and impacting our employees, customers and community positively.

Once you’re done with this interview with Daryl Yeo from Atas Butter, click here to catch up with our June/July 2023 issue!