Local pancake chain owner reveals how he keeps fit despite hectic work schedule

SINGAPORE - As a boy, Mr Jack Chin, 45, loved eating a local pancake filled with peanuts called "ming chiang kueh".

He remembers it being freshly prepared on-the-spot by street vendors.

In the late 90s, while working as a sales manager in an IT firm, he stumbled upon a vacant stall in a coffee shop and pictured the long-forgotten pancakes being sold.

From the first outlet in Geylang, opened in 1998, Pancake King has since expanded to 20 outlets.

From traditional peanut, coconut and red bean paste fillings, he has expanded the range and introduced cakes and pastries. In addition to Pancake King, Mr Chin also helms Mad Jack - a chain of six restaurants serving mainly Western food.

He is constantly trying to ensure the use of natural and healthy ingredients in the food he sells.

His food philosophy for his business is to use no monosodium glutamate, no artificial flavouring and no preservatives.

He monitors his weight and maintains a healthy diet, as a reflection of his principles of healthy food and healthy eating. He weighs 74kg and stands 1.75m tall.

He is now contemplating starting a Mad Jack Academy to help those who want to work in the food and beverage industry, where he will share his experiences in the business.

He lives in Serangoon with his wife, 45, who is also the co-founder of his pancake and restaurant businesses, and his two daughters aged 14 and 17.

What do you do to keep fit?

I am not someone you would often find in a gym.

I do not particularly take to working out on a machine. I am someone who enjoys the outdoors more. There is more fresh air and I feel better after sweating it out.

I find a game of badminton much more fulfilling and you will see me at the courts three to four times a week.

I have some regular "kakis" (friends in Singlish) and we encourage one another to go swimming and jogging, which we do two or three times a month.

What is your secret to looking so fabulous?

Moderation.

Everyone has heard of this concept, so it is no secret, but it is what keeps me on my toes. I eat, work and play in moderation, and spend time with my family.

Has there ever been a time when you were not fit and fab?

Fortunately, I have always been in pretty good shape.

My food intake matches my energy output quite well. In addition, my health has been consistent all this while, and I would like to think it is due to the fact that I do not smoke.

Recently, however, my body mass index has edged over into the moderate risk range and that has prompted my wife to put me on a more controlled diet.

What does being a "pancake king" involve you doing day-to-day?

I would like to think of myself piloting a plane.

For the most part of the journey, I put the plane on autopilot - I let my crew, a competent bunch, run the show.

Of course, as in flying, the pilot must step in during critical points of the flight.

I spend my time looking at the big picture, determining goals and steering the companies to new territories while protecting the existing base.

What are your working hours like? Do you have time for exercise?

It varies greatly.

There is not a week that goes by where I find that my working hours are fixed.

I do not stay later than necessary and make the effort to find time for my family and for exercise.

I believe my body benefits even from a little exercise, done consistently.

On days when I am very busy, I may find my exercise routine being disrupted, but it is replaced by the workout I get from moving around.

I am on my feet for the most part of the day.

What is your diet like?

People say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so I try to have my fill then, with bread, cereal and a cup of coffee.

When that is not possible, I try to make up during lunch and dinner with healthier food such as fish and lots of vegetables.

If I have to have a snack in between meals due to my schedule, I aim for fruit and avoid oily and fried food.

What are your indulgences?

My love for my daily casual wardrobe. I go to work in casual outfits, which have a degree of freedom and comfort not found in suits.

I enjoy the informal and, sometimes, sporty outfits I wear in place of a work suit.

My food indulgence is my love for cakes, desserts and meat, which I developed during my time in university in New Zealand.

That is where I met my wife.

What do you do to maintain a healthy work-life balance?

At the end of a work day, I make it a point to get home to be with my family.

You could say my wife and daughters are the reason I am doing all this - running the business and keeping ahead of the competition.

I enjoy spending time with my two teenage girls.

Spare time is never wasted and we would be at the movies, shopping or just having fun at the park.

What are the three most important things in your life?

My family is most important to me.

To spend quality time with them, I need my health.

And as parents, we would want to provide for our family, so my work is crucial.

There you have it - family, health and the business.

Would you go for plastic surgery and why?

I believe everyone in the world has his good and bad points.

And just like managing a business, I learn to work around obstacles and disadvantages.

Besides, I think I look good the way I am. Therefore, plastic surgery purely for cosmetic reasons is not something I would readily go for.

Do you think you're sexy?

I feel confident and positive when I am around people.

More importantly, I am comfortable being myself and being "in my own skin".

To me, sexiness is in the mind.

If you need more answers, you will have to ask my wife.

wanching@sph.com.sg


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