Text by Lorraine Koh@Makansutra
Being a hawker may require lots of sweat and tears but it can be rewarding as well.
With the buzz on the new ten new hawker centres reaching fever pitch, some of you may be considering embarking on this foodfilling career. Unlike most other jobs, there is no official school or training required to be a hawker. You just need a passion for cooking and serving good (hopefully) food to the masses. At Makansutra, we applaud your cause and we list down some essential and legal steps you need to partake before becoming a full-fledged hawker.
Know the kind of food you want to sell and why.
It makes all the difference in the cooking equipment you will need. Whether you need to do any cooking in your stall will also affect the license you need. You may be interested to know that for Halal food, there is a desired quota of 10% for this genre. To achieve this, priority is given by only allowing Halal food operators to bid in the first two rounds of tender if the quota is not met, wrote Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources to Parliamentary on a question with regards to adequate Halal and Indian foodstalls in hawker centres.
Learning your craft
Before plunging into this line, we suggest you learn more about it first. You can be a hawker assistant & observe, go to community centres and learn how to cook or take up private cooking courses. Do some reading up and most importantly practise, practise, practise.
Tender for a stall
If you are interested in operating a hawker stall in a NEA/HDB/JTC food centre/market, you need to first bid for a food stall. You can find out more at NEA’s website. ( http://app2.nea.gov.sg/onlinesvcs_tendernotice.aspx )
A busy hawker centre.
Obtain your hawker licence
Once you have secured a food stall in a successful bid and signed the tenancy agreement with NEA/HDB/JTC, a hawker stall licence will then be issued to you by the Hawkers Department of NEA. The Food Stall Licence costs $13.00 and is valid for one year. Licensees are given the option to pay $26.00 for a food stall licence that is valid for two years.
Attend a hygiene course
After obtaining your hawker license, food handlers need to attend a WDA Basic Food Hygiene Course. Forms can be downloaded at ( http://app2.nea.gov.sg ). It costs $80 for locals. Since September 2010, hawkers no longer need to undergo mandatory typhoid vaccination and tuberculosis screening.
Having hired help
If you need extra help in your stall, hawker assistants do need to be registered with the NEA. Forms are downloadable here ( http://app2.nea.gov.sg/licenses.aspx ).
Do note that for foreigners on Employment Pass, according to the Ministry of Manpower are not allowed to be hawker assistants.
Further training and upgrading
There are various courses on food handling and hygiene, keep yourself updated and upgraded. It also helps that as a hawker to learn a little bit of grooming and good operational practices (like never reuse your plastic gloves in the name of saving money).