Overcoming the odds stacked against her
When Aeron sets her sights on something, nothing can change her mind – no matter what stands in the way.
Passionate about Japanese culture from a young age, Aeron dreamed about one day mastering the art of Japanese cuisine and opening her own restaurant.
But then she was told, ‘No’ - it would be essentially impossible for her to become a master, because women are generally not allowed to train as sushi chefs in Japan. ‘No’; she would be turned away for not being Japanese; ‘No’ - she didn’t speak the language.
But she accepted none of these outcomes. And when she was just 16 years old - she packed her bags and moved to Japan.
Aeron was steadfast in pursuing her dream. Despite knocking on countless doors, and facing endless rejection. In the end, she found a willing master, completed her journey, came back to Singapore and opened Kappou - all by the age of 22. Aeron has the distinct honour of being the first woman to own and helm a Japanese restaurant in Singapore.
Every day, I look in the mirror and say, ‘I can do it’. Nothing is going to bring me down.
Taking the path less travelled
Aeron’s obsession with Japanese culture began at just nine years old, when she encountered J-rock and sushi. As her passion for Japanese culture grew, she set her heart on one day mastering Japanese cuisine, and eventually, opening her own restaurant.
Like any remarkable journey, the obstacles along the way were numerous but Aeron was committed to pursuing her dream. That meant travelling to Japan and persevering as she struggled to be accepted by a master in order to start her training as an apprentice.
Changing her dream was never an option
One of the first challenges Aeron faced is the fact that women in Japan are traditionally not allowed to train as sushi chefs. But Aeron refused to change her dream. Upon arriving in Japan, she waited tirelessly outside many restaurants asking for an opportunity but most of them turned her away. Eventually, she found one that accepted her as a dishwasher, and from there she embarked on a long and arduous journey, slowly working her way up to more responsibilities in the kitchen.
Every day, Aeron would prove through sheer grit and heart, that her passion for Japanese cuisine would outlast the toil of training - even when the going got tough.
For three years, she immersed herself in Japanese culture. Besides studying under a strict master, she also learned the language and followed traditional practices of apprentice sushi chefs in Japan such as shaving her head each morning – never wavering from pursuing her dreams.
Making her dream a reality
After completing her professional training, including a certification from the Japan Sushi Instructors Association in Tokyo, Aeron moved back to Singapore and set out to realise her dream - opening her own restaurant. Despite being limited in terms of resources, she knew that with her hands and her heart, she had everything she needed.
And so, Aeron built Kappou quite literally from the ground up, starting with her own cupboards and shelves in a humble corner shop far removed from the glamour of Singapore’s gastronomic epicentres.
She curated an ever-changing menu that accentuated natural flavours from her seasonal ingredients, and word eventually spread. Today, Kappou has moved from that humble corner to the heart of the city, serving up the finest omakase experiences to discerning gastronomes from all over the world.
Every day is a chance to work harder
Seeing her dream come true with the opening of Kappou was just the beginning.
To Aeron, Japanese cuisine is a relentless pursuit. With travel finally possible again, she plans to go abroad several months a year to refine her craft, and experience different cultures and cuisines.
Aeron is a dreamer and while her main focus is championing Japanese cuisine, her next dream includes opening a school where she can educate and inspire future generations to keep the craft alive.