Only rice and cucumber until grades improved

Only rice and cucumber until grades improved
Mr Lin opened his first outlet, Platypus Test Kitchen, at Clifford Centre and has since expanded the business to eight food outlets with an annual turnover of $5 million.

SINGAPORE - Nicholas Lin was a bright child but, boy, did he give his parents a lot of aggravation when it came to books and exams.

In Secondary 1, he failed every subject at Catholic High School and had to repeat the year.

His father, a senior civil servant, was so exasperated that he decided to punish him by depriving him of what he loved most - food.

"He cut my allowance and told my mother: 'You're going to feed him only rice and cucumber until he pulls up his socks.'"

The deprivation - which lasted several months, he says - worked. It not only made him buck up, but also instilled in him a hunger to succeed.

"I told myself I should try to be as successful as my father but in other areas. It forced me to think about other ways to succeed," he says.

He found it in food.

Today, Mr Lin, 29, is the founder of Platypus Restaurants, which operates eight food outlets with an annual turnover of $5 million.

Chatty and articulate, the second of three sons came from a solidly middle-class background.

His father - now retired - was a Colombo Plan scholarship recipient and a Harvard alumnus; his mother used to work in the reinsurance industry.

"My elder brother was a straight-A student - Raffles Institution, Raffles Junior College. I was generally a bad student and barely made it into Catholic High," he says with a laugh.

His younger brother, who is dyslexic, is an artist.

Mr Lin, who was also diagnosed as mildly dyslexic when he was 15, says Chinese was his Achilles heel.

"I remember spending many afternoons in tuition centres located in HDB bomb shelters for extra lessons on Chinese composition," says Mr Lin.

Things came to a head when he was in Sec 1.

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