calling the shots
Colin Chia’s immense stature may seem intimidating on first impression, but the regional commercial manager (South East Asia) for drinks conglomerate Diageo Reserve, eases up when it comes to a discussion on life’s little pleasures. From his vast array of customised bow ties and suits to a never-ending compendium of great eats and cocktail bars, Chia surely knows how to indulge. Chia oversees Diageo’s premium portfolio, which contains brands such as Johnnie Walker Blue Label and Ketel One vodka.
I grew up in a very traditional Teochew family. My paternal grandfather had two wives, which resulted in many uncles and aunties for me. We lived in a gigantic three-storey house on Clemenceau Avenue. In fact, there was a half-basketball court on the second floor. My grandfather liked having everyone under one roof, and pretty much ruled with an iron fist.
The best chilli and pepper crabs are at Eng Seng Restaurant on the corner of Joo Chiat Place and Still Road. They import the Sri Lankan crabs themselves.
I studied hospitality. When I graduated, my first job was being a waiter. Currently, kids who graduate with a diploma want to be the manager. There’s a big difference in attitude these days.
I opened a cocktail bar years ago, even before The Tippling Club was around, called Cock’s Feather. It was very provocative in terms of the type of drinks we served. But Singapore was not ready for us then.
I go to a tailor on Soi 11 in Bangkok called Bangkok Fashion to get a lot of things made. I love going there and having big debates about the materials and cut.
Food. If there is one thing I’m very particular about, that has to be it. I love hawker centres. I don’t believe in paying extortionate amounts in order to get ‘good food’. I think guides are good for restaurants and bars as a measure of quality standards, but I’d rather take personal recommendations from friends.
Regional commercial manager (SEA), Diageo Reserve
Like every Singaporean, one of Chia's favourite topics is food. Apart from indulging in restaurant fare, Chia is impartial to local food, especially those served in hawker centres.