An Interview with Daryl Yeo, founder of Atas Butter on his venture’s Tasmanian Inspiration

Meet Daryl Yeo, the founder of Atas Butter in Singapore who ventured into the culinary world in 2022 after years of working in a tech start up. At present, Daryl produces around 20kg of artisanal butter each week and sells it online (www.atasbutter.com), at pop-up markets and to restaurants in Singapore. Daryl’s business venture is closely inspired by his travels to the beautiful locales of Tasmania and his up and personal encounters with local farmers and craftsmen there.

The Food Journal quizzed Daryl on his travels to Tasmania, the inspiration behind his business and the USP of Atas Butter.

Read the whole interview here:

  • From tech to culinary, what inspired you to take this leap of faith into a completely different line of work?

DY: “I really wanted to do something that had a more direct impact in people’s lives. I was burnt out from a 15-year tech career staring at computer screens and asking myself why am I doing this for work? The pandemic didn’t help, and work-from-home just pushed me over the edge. I had always wanted to start my own business, so I quit my job in February 2022 to take a year to try some ideas I had. Initially, I went to what I was familiar with, starting some tech businesses which went nowhere. I still felt unfulfilled. But it wasn’t until I went to Tasmania that I fell into food.”

  • What were some of the highlights of your trip to Tasmania in 2022?

DY: “There were so many! The hikes were amazing. Some of them included Cradle Mountain, the Bay of Fires, Freycinet National Park, just to name a few. Visiting The Truffle Farm and hunting for truffles, shucking oysters at Freycinet Marine Farm, meeting olive oil farmers at Cradle Coast Olives, various craftspeople, and artists as well.”

Truffle Hunting
  • Can you share with our readers if there was any defining moment or inspiring encounter during your trip that inspired you to start Atas Butter?

DY: “I would say there would be one specific moment and a bunch of other moments.

The latter would be all the delicious meals/food I had in Tasmania. From the farm tours, craft wineries’/distilleries’ restaurants, farm stay breakfasts, the food was just top notch. It made me realise how fresh produce and farm-to-table concepts just bring a whole new dimension to a culinary experience. Sometimes, the simplicity, purity and freshness of food just trumps all that complex processed stuff.

For the former, it was that realization that doing work with impact and purpose brings more joy than a stable profession that may earn more but leaves me feeling unhappy and purposeless. I saw this joy when I met the Tasmanian producers, they light up whenever someone goes “wow” when trying their produce. I saw this purpose when they told their stories and why they do what they do. I saw the pride they had in their work. It’s hard work that probably doesn’t pay as well as a big tech job, but it was at that moment when I knew I wanted to emulate them.”

  • Tell us a little about your venture and your entrepreneurial journey.

DY: “On the flight back home from Tasmania, I had plenty of time to think about what I wanted to do upon my return. I knew it was something I would do with my hands, but I didn’t want to start yet another bakery or café. I remembered the fresh dairy I had at my farm stays and the lovely butter I had everywhere I went. I loved the butter most and thought, maybe I could try churning some at home. On and off for 2 months, I learned how to churn butter at home. I fed my friends and family a ton of butter, tough life, I know. It wasn’t until October when I decided to just try selling it at some pop-up markets on the weekend. At my first pop-up, I sold out. I was bewildered, so I did it again the following week. I sold out the following week too! I kept doing this for 2 months straight and kept selling out. I had a growing Instagram following as well. It was growth and progress which I haven’t experienced in a while.

Things didn’t get serious until a big pop-up in November 2022 where there was always a constant crowd at my booth. At that point, I felt it was time to find a commercial space and increase production. So, we signed a lease and moved out of home into a commercial space in February 2023. We have been operating there ever since and are now a team of 2 people. It’s been a whirlwind but very satisfying to grow this business profitably and sustainably.”

  • Why is “Atas” Butter called so?

DY:“Atas” is Malay for “up”, but it is used in Singapore English (Singlish) as an adjective to describe something as “upper class”, sophisticated, elegant, posh, or cultured. It so happens that we make cultured butter as well so there is an unexpected pun there. Definitely a little tongue in cheek with the name, we take our work seriously but not ourselves. We aim to be a brand that’s fun, experimental, and pushing the boundaries when it comes to a very traditional item like butter.”

  • What is Atas Butter’s USP? How is the butter different from other brands commonly available in supermarkets in Singapore?

DY: “We are arguably the freshest butter in Singapore. We culture our cream and churn it in house and the entire process can take 4-5 days. We like to say you get your butter from churn to table within 5 days.”

Smoked Butter
  • How does Atas Butter embody Tasmania’s famed farm to table experience?

DY: “We do not have much of a farming landscape in Singapore, so we do our best to achieve this by starting at the cream stage. We will import cream from the UK and culture it and then churn the cream into butter and buttermilk. So, instead of farm to table, we say churn to table.”

  • Where can customers in Singapore buy your artisanal butter from?

          DY: “On our website or at pop-up markets which we announce via our social media accounts.”

  • Finally, if you were to give some travel advice to our readers, why do you think they should pick Tasmania as their next travel destination, especially if they are also connoisseurs of good food?

DY: “Tasmanian producers are extremely proud of their craft. They’re extremely passionate of what they put out into the world. If you’re a foodie, you will not be disappointed.

If you enjoy hiking, nature and the outdoors, Tasmania is just simply magical and almost whimsical. You get to see wallabies in your backyard, groups of wombats on your hikes, and amazing scenic views that are otherworldly.”

Wallaby Breakfast

Place your order for artisanal butter at Atas Butter here.