Food & Culture in Singapore, by Keri Matwick
This article debuts a new column for the AWA magazine: Food & Culture in Singapore. The column features “people, places, and dishes that make delicious eats in Singapore.”
“My currency is my kindness,” says Elizabeth Theodoros. The compassion and goodwill radiate from this dynamic Australian expat entrepreneur in Singapore.
Establishing Dipsy Dips in 2019, Elizabeth has steadily grown a line of healthy, tasty hummus dips. In November, Dipsy Dips will be distributed and sold at all 47 Cold Storage stores through a collaboration with SaladStop.
I sat down with Elizabeth at The American Club and asked her to share her story.
How did you get started in cooking?
My dad ran several restaurants in Adelaide while my mother was from a family of winemakers. I had always been interested in cooking but when I experienced a family tragedy, I turned to food to find meaning again in life.
Although I am self-taught, I have always been around food. I was a contestant in series 3 of Australian MasterChef, which morphed into running my own restaurant.
I opened Harvest, a palate-to-plate Mediterranean restaurant, in my hometown of Adelaide. We had our own adjacent 4-acre farm that grew all the restaurant’s food until we got too big. After 5 years, I suddenly had four offers to purchase the restaurant. One was a staff member who now owns it.
What brought you to Singapore?
Once I sold my restaurant, I wanted to have a new experience. My plan was to stay in Singapore for two years and then go on to America. Nine years later, I’m still here in Singapore.
In Singapore, I started as a private chef. I cooked food for people with special dietary needs such as those who were gluten-intolerant or needed wholesome diets, such as cancer survivors and athletes.
I’m not a nutritionist but I am drawn to how healthy food makes you feel good and is restorative.
I would make dips and bring them to friends' parties. Everyone loved them! Rebecca of The Fishwives Singapore was one of them and asked me to make a line of dips to sell at her fine food shop. The dips sold well so I approached Little Farms. My hummus is now one of Little Farms’ top sellers in the deli section.
Dips are the perfect afternoon snack. Much better than candy! They are healthy! Low in sugar, high in protein and fiber, vegan, nutrient-dense, and good for you.
Tell us about your Dipsy Dips hummus
My hummus dips are delicious, healthy, and local. And, they don’t last three years. Look, my dips do not have potassium sorbate or artificial ingredients.
They are made with chickpeas, extra virgin olive oil, Himalayan pink salt, vinegar, freshly squeezed lemon juice, and a little bit of citric acid.
The chickpeas are a two-day process. I get them from Australia, then soak the beans, cook them, and cool them. Then they are ready to be blended with the other ingredients.
I use the freshest ingredients from Ugly Food Company, a sustainable company that sells produce that does not make the beauty cut but is still good.
Dipsy Dips has 6 flavors: classic, chili and ginger, fresh herb, beetroot and pomegranate, pumpkin and peanut, and also a chili jam. Classic is by far the favorite.
Where do you make Dipsy Dips?
I have an industrial kitchen at Jurong Innovate360, Singapore’s first food accelerator with facilities. I am the unicorn, the sole expat among other young Singaporean start-up companies like Hook Coffee and TurtleTree Labs.
I employ three Singaporean women. They are older, and one of them had not had the opportunity to work before. They are happy in the kitchen, proud to be making their own money for the first time. Linda, my head staff, took her husband to Taiwan this year.
What is the hardest part about being an entrepreneur?
Lonely. Some days I wouldn’t see people the whole day while I was making the dips. Being a female expat is also hard.
I have taken a course at Proctor & Gamble for female entrepreneurs. That was great where I was able to meet a lot of interesting women. (The course is P&G Women Entrepreneurs Academy, WEA)
What does it take to be a successful entrepreneur?
Grit. Optimism. Naivety. And being nice! I believe in kindness. Treat others with respect. Help others. It all comes back.
Follow Dipsy Dips at https://www.dipsy-dips.com/
Keri is a Senior Lecturer at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. She teaches writing and carries out research on food, language, and culture. See more of her work at kandkmatwick.com and LinkedIn.