George Quek

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George Quek
George Quek profile.png
George Quek Meng Tong

Alma materXinmin Secondary School, Singapore Art Academy (defunct)
OrganisationPresident of Poit Ip Huay Kuan (2013 - 2017)
Known forFounder of Bread Talk, Food Republic
Spouse(s)Katherine Lee Lih Leng (m. 1986)

George Quek is a Singaporean entrepreneur most known for being the founder of local household-name bakery BreadTalk. Apart from this, his ventures in the food court business had earned him the name of “Foodcourt King” as he had founded Food Junction and then later went on to venture into the business again with Food Republic and Food Opera under the BreadTalk Group. Currently, there are eight brands under the BreadTalk Group. In addition to his achievements in the Food and Beverage industry, Dr George Quek is a keen supporter of the arts. He regularly collects art pieces and has contributed to local museums. In 2004, George Quek had been awarded with an honorary business doctorate in Business Administration by Wisconsin International University.[1]


George Quek. Photo from SG SME.

At a younger age, George Quek had intended to pursue a career in the arts. During his secondary school days at Xinmin Secondary School, he took interest in sketching and calligraphy. Subsequently, he took classes at the now closed Singapore Art Academy. He then went on to become a regular in the Singapore army for about 5 years. After his stint in the army, George Quek continued to pursue art through wood carving and metal engraving for a store selling handmade art pieces at Parklane Shopping Mall. He had also met his wife, Katherine Lee, during this time.[2]

In 1982, George Quek and his wife left for Taiwan to further their studies in the arts. During this period, they made a living by setting up a kiosk selling traditional Dragon’s Beard Candy. When the business expanded, George Quek decided to introduce Singaporean dishes like fishball noodles and bak chor mee under the company name ‘Singa’. However, the Singaporean flavours were not well received by the local market. George Quek then went on to employ another chef who adapted these dishes in order to appeal to Taiwanese taste buds. Eventually, 'Singa' rose in popularity with a total of 21 outlets.[3] After 10 years in Taiwan, George Quek sold off his business and moved back to Singapore. He then went on to venture into the F&B industry in Singapore.

Career highlights

Food Junction Holdings Pte Ltd. (1993 - 2000)

Store front of a Bread Talk outlet. Photo credit to The Smart Local.

In 1993, George Quek opened the first air-conditioned food court ‘Food Junction’ at Junction 8 with three other co-founders. Food Junction was one of the first food courts in Singapore to offer a variety of both local and international cuisines.[4]

BreadTalk Group Limited (2000 - Present Day)

After leaving the food court business, Dr. Quek went on to set up a local bakery BreadTalk with its first outlet located at Bugis Junction in 2000. Dr Quek had named the bakery as such to signify the messages that bread can convey to customers. BreadTalk gained popularity for its unique flavours as well as its branding of a ‘bread boutique’.[5] Subsequently, the company was listed on Sesdaq, Singapore Exchange, in 2003.[6]

Curry Chicken bun from Bread Talk. Photo credit to The Smart Local.

As of 2019, the BreadTalk Group has global presence in 18 countries overseas. and foresees a growth to about 2,000 stores worldwide by 2022. The BreadTalk Group is the parent company for several brands including BreadTalk, Din Tai Fung, Food Republic, Toast Box, Bread Society, Thye Moh Chan confectionary, Sō Ramen and The Icing Room. In addition to this, the BreadTalk Group has partnered with several other companies. This includes Japanese Sanpou Group, for the launch of RamenPlay and local brand Song Fa Bak Kut Teh, to open its first store in Shanghai. The group has also collaborated with the American business Carl Karcher Enterprises, on an agreement to introduce the Carl’s Jr. brand to the China market.[7]

Joint Venture with fashion label 45R (2016)

George Quek collaborated with Japanese clothing brand 45R to open its first store in Capitol Piazza Singapore. With prices ranging from SGD$450, the brand places emphasis on the quality and durability of their garments. Additionally, the garments are all handmade, and treated with traditional Japanese dyeing and embroidering techniques.[8]


Year Awarding Organization Award
2002 Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (ASME) and the Rotary Club Entrepreneur of the Year Award
2006 Entrepreneur of the Year Awards 2006 organized by The Business Times and Ernst & Young Won the Emerging Entrepreneur Category
2013 Midas Touch Asia in conjunction with Channel News Asia Business Personality of the Year Award 2013
2016 CEO Asia Awards CEO of the Year

Personal life

Calligraphy (2009) by Tan Oe Pang that had been donated to the National Gallery by Dr. George Quek. Photo from Roots.SG.

Although he did not pursue a career in the arts, George Quek remained an avid art collector. He collects art works from Chinese artists including Li Keran, Wu Changshou and Tan Oe Pang.[9] Additionally, he has sat on the Board of Directors for the Singapore Art Museum (SAM).[10] In 2011, he made a donation of 20 artworks by Singaporean ink artist Tan Oe Pang to the National Gallery.[11]

On top of this, George Quek received the Partner of Heritage Award from the National Heritage Board (NHB) in 2010 for his support of the local art scene. George Quek was also the Chairman of the SG50 Sing-Along Organising Committee. The SG50 Sing-Along event was a musical event organised by People's Association and Singapore Press Holdings' Chinese Media Group in celebration for Singapore’s 50th Anniversary.[12] Held at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, the event attracted a total of 10,000 people who participated in the sing-along of local music dating back to the 1950s.

From 2013 to 2017, Dr Quek was the President of the Teochew 'Poit Ip Huay Kuan', a Teochew clan association in Singapore. During this time, he had organised the second Teochew Festival in Singapore. Under his leadership, the association saw a jump in numbers of 400 more young members.[13]

Drink driving incident (2005)

In 2005, George Quek was charged with drink driving at a police roadblock in Ang Mo Kio as he had crashed into and damaged two stationary cars, one of which was a police car. His breathalyser test had showed that he had 61 micrograms of alcohol per 100ml of breath when the legal limit was 35 micrograms. In court, Dr Quek explained that he had a few drinks at a business meeting. Consequently, he was fined $4,000 and was banned for driving for the span of 2.5 years.[14]

References / Citation

  1. Leo Kee Chye. "Singapore Success Stories: Dr George Quek". Molten Dew. March 16, 2005. Accessed on 13 March 2019. Retrieved from:
  2. Tan, Sumiko.“BreadTalk’s George Quek on conquering the world, one loaf at a time”. The Straits Times. May 27, 2018. Accessed on 28 January 2019. Retrieved from:
  3. Hunt, Alison. “5 Things You Should Know About BreadTalk”. The Motley Fool. October 22, 2013. Accessed on 28 january 2019. Retrieved from:
  4. “About Us: Food Junction”. Foodjunction. Accessed on 28 January 2019. Retrieved from:
  5. Tan, Sumiko. “ BreadTalk’s George Quek on conquering the world, one loaf at a time”. The Straits Times. May 27, 2018. Accessed on 28 January 2019. Retrieved from:
  6. "Our Milestones". BreadTalkGroup. Accessed on 26 February 2019.Retrieved from:
  7. “CKE Restaurants Signs Agreement to Bring 100 Carl’s Jr. Restaurants To China”. Carl’s Jr. June 16, 2008. Accessed on 28 January 2019. Retrieved from:
  8. Heng, Melissa. “Handmade style from Japanese label 45R”. The Straits Times. June 30, 2016. Accessed on 28 January 2019. Retrieved from:
  9. Lim, Noelle. “Talking Shop”. Forbes. March 31, 2011. Accessed on 28 January 2019. Retrieved from:
  10. "New board of directors for Singapore Art Museum; changes at MTI statutory boards". The Straits Times. December 20, 2013.Accessed on 26 February 2019. Retrieved from:
  11. “National Art Gallery, Singapore Receives 20 Artworks by Ink Artist Tan Oe Pang from Dr George Quek”. National Gallery. April 19, 2011. Accessed on 28 January 2019. Retrieved from:
  12. "Come, sing along with me". The Straits Times. July 12, 2015. Accessed on 26 February 2019. Retrieved from:
  13. Toh, Wen Li. “BreadTalk founder blends old values with fresh ideas”. The Straits Times, January 2, 2017. Accessed on 28 January 2019. Retrieved from:
  14. Lum, Selina. “$4,000 fine, driving ban for BreadTalk boss”. The Straits Times. May 13, 2005. Accessed on 29 January 2019. Retrieved from Lee Kong Chian Reference Library Microfilm Reel NL26187.