‘When one door closes another opens’

After being laid off in 2016, Raezah chose to start business over retiring, investing in a container and turning it into an eatery

Raezah Hj Mohd Zain was just shy of 25 years of service when she found herself out of a job as HSBC began winding down in Brunei last May.

The 44-year-old, who worked at the bank as a clerk, always had a knack for cooking – from pastries to mains – and in her spare time would find a way to sell a dish or two from home.

A fair severance made early retirement quietly pleasing option, but for Raezah, it turned out to be the push she needed to try running a business full time.

“We (my family) have always been cooking and selling food since we were very young,” said Raezah. “It was always just a way to make ends meet, but it was limited to either delivery, from home or a wooden stall by the roadside.”

She purchased a retrofitted shipping container to act as a mobile kitchen and kiosk, but hauling the full-sized container around required a special permit. With the help of a relative she parked the trailer at an open plot of land right next to the fuel station in Lambak Kiri, and set up tent with tables and chairs for customers to quickly grab a bite.

Serving simple Indian and Mediterranean dishes: tandoori, lamb roast, kebabs and wraps – Rezz became a popular pit stop for passer-byes, and in February Raezah built a connecting awning allowing customers to better dine; come rain or shine.

A before (top) and after picture of Rezz kitchen after renovation was carried out in February.

“In all, we’ve spent about $20,000 to get the business up and running,” said Raezah. At the rate of sales, she’ll make that back in two years, maybe less, and if all goes to plan you’ll see another Rezz kitchen popping up in another location in the not too distant future.

“I’m still learning as we go (run the business),” said Raezah. “Realizing there’s so much that I still don’t know, I seek out how I can learn, even if I have to go overseas to do it.”

Simple, comforting and affordable - Rezz's recipe that's won a small following
Simple, comforting and affordable – Rezz’s recipe that’s won a small following

Before I leave I ask if she ever feels like rejoining the workforce, considering she’s still relatively young.

“I’m all in. I’ve made up my mind,” she says with a smile. “Cooking has always been in my blood. Now I am blessed with the opportunity to see it through.”

Chicken tandoori served with penyet sambal and rice.
Chicken tandoori served with penyet sambal and rice.

Rezz Kitchen is located at Spg 595, Kg Lambak Kiri and is open from 9am to 2pm and 4pm to 9.30pm. They can be reached at +6738837447 or +6737197447.