Love at first bite: How Sourbombe Artisanal Bakery’s power couple knew they were endgame

By Phyllis Leong February 23, 2024
Love at first bite: How Sourbombe Artisanal Bakery’s power couple knew they were endgame
Gen Lee (left) and Thomas Chong (right) of Sourbombe. Photos, left to right: @cjunh/Instagram, Sourbombe Artisanal Bakery

“How do you know if they’re the one?”

This is a worry that those of us in a committed, long-term relationship can naturally relate to. We tend to search for signs that our partners are in it for the long haul, especially if marriage is the ultimate endgame. 

But as the old saying goes, “when you know, you know”. There is no definitive, sure-win formula that guarantees a person is your one true love for life, but we can agree that it boils down to how they make you feel (in other words, da vibes). 

Sometimes, all it takes is chemistry and compatibility to determine if you’re meant to be.

For Sourbombe Artisanal Bakery’s power couple, Genevieve “Gen” Lee — the first runner-up of MasterChef Singapore’s first season — and food photographer Thomas Chong, they knew that it was a perfect match from the moment they met.

The meet-cute

02 pl-valentines day sourbombe artisanal bakery-hungrygowhere
Photo: @cjunh/Instagram

They met on dating app Coffee Meets Bagel in 2018 — when they were 21 years old — and hit it off immediately. While others found themselves exploring casual situationships, Gen and Thomas, both aged 27, wanted an exclusive relationship from the get-go. 

“We already knew what we were looking for in a partner,” says Thomas. “We didn’t need to test the waters.” 

At that point in time, Gen had just wrapped filming for competitive cooking show MasterChef Singapore and was enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America in Singapore. 

While she was honing her culinary chops in the hot kitchen, Thomas was undergoing National Service.

03 pl-valentines day sourbombe artisanal bakery-hungrygowhere
The behind-the-scenes of baking bomboloni. Photo: Sourbombe Artisanal Bakery

Their relationship underwent a pivotal shift when Gen co-founded the home-based Sourbombe Artisanal Bakery with a business partner during the Covid-19 Circuit Breaker in 2020. 

The brand specialises in artisanal sourdough bombolonis (Italian donuts) with various fillings. It soared in popularity during the pandemic and moved to a brick-and-mortar space in 2021. It now has four stores islandwide.

Why bombolonis, though? Remember — this was before bombolonis were popular in Singapore. According to Gen, it was actually because of Thomas.

“Thomas was craving donuts,” Gen recalls. She ended up making a batch for him and handed some to her now business partner, who then suggested starting it as a business venture.

04 pl-valentines day sourbombe artisanal bakery-hungrygowhere
Photo: Thomas Chong

Today, Thomas is actively involved in running the bakery. Gen spearheads business operations and food production while he oversees marketing, sales and shoots eye-catching product shots for its campaigns. 

During the early stages of the business, the couple spent most of their time together in the kitchen, where they firmed up recipes and tested bomboloni flavours. Many dates involved just hanging out in the kitchen doing R&D for Sourbombe. 

“Because of how much time we spent in the kitchen, we learned a lot about each other in that first year of running Sourbombe together.” Thomas recalls. 

“Gen is a walking encyclopaedia when it comes to food,” he jests. He attributes his knowledge of food to working daily alongside her. 

Most couples tend to avoid working together so that the lines between work and personal life aren’t blurred, but not them. 

“Money and business are very separate from our love life,” Gen says. “And we were very confident in going into this business together because we knew each other well.” At that point, they had been dating for slightly more than a year.

In fact, Gen mentions that they hardly disagree over work matters. 

“The arguments are usually about the ‘big feelings’ and petty things,” she says, laughing. “Like, how he didn’t compliment me today or raised his voice at me.” 

But when it comes to work, both remain professional so that the job gets done. 

And how does the pair balance a relationship while juggling a booming business? Their secret is to be there for one another through difficult times, put each other first and always make time for date nights — no matter how busy they may be. 

Partners in life and work

05 pl-valentines day sourbombe artisanal bakery-hungrygowhere
Photo: @cjunh/Instagram

Building a donut empire from the ground up is no easy feat, but Gen and Thomas find comfort and solace in each other after a hectic workday.

She describes Thomas as not just her boyfriend and colleague, but also a pillar of strength who takes time to make her feel heard. 

“As the boss, you can’t really tell anyone what you feel,” says Gen. “But with him, I don’t have to put up a front and I can just let loose.” 

“We gossip together too,” Thomas adds. “It’s a fun time that beats just having coffee in a cafe.” 

And when they’re working in the kitchen together, they enjoy catching up about every topic under the sun, from business matters to their personal lives.

“I want to tell him everything that happens,” Gen says. “Because he’s also involved in the business, we get super excited and happy over the small things together.”

06 pl-valentines day sourbombe artisanal bakery-hungrygowhere
The pair bonds over their love for food. Photo: @cjunh/Instagram

Their personalities fit together like jigsaw pieces, too.

“I’m a very strong character who wants to be her own boss,” Gen says. “But I’m also a softie who wants my partner to support me completely.”

Gen thinks of him as a chivalrous gentleman who always puts her first. From making her happy to helping her out at work, he’s a breath of fresh air who brings out the best in her. 

“She also does things to make me happy,” Thomas adds. “She cooks the things that I enjoy eating and prepares bentos for me when she’s worried that I’m not eating nutritional food.” 

And when conflicts arise, Thomas finds it better to put his ego aside than just stubbornly insist on being right. He tries his best to be patient and accommodating during arguments.

If they wanted to, they would

07 pl-valentines day sourbombe artisanal bakery-hungrygowhere
Both love to travel and embark on new experiences together. Photo: Thomas Chong

Despite being so busy with work and personal commitments, the pair will make time for each other. It’s vital to keeping the spark alive in a relationship, they say. 

For instance, Gen recalls a time when she was going through a rough patch on her birthday, while Thomas was on an internship in Vietnam

It was during a peak period for Sourbombe and Gen was stressing over a manpower shortage, which had caused some tension within her business team. 

Knowing she was feeling down, Thomas bought a ticket home to surprise her. 

“He actually had no plans to come back because tickets were super expensive,” Gen recalls. 

But he came back anyway, helped out with the bakery and took her out for a good meal. If this isn’t a testament to the dating adage “if they wanted to, they would”, we don’t know what is. 

At the end of a workday, Gen and Thomas spend quality time together, regardless of how late it is.

“We cook a nice meal, chill on the couch, drink wine and watch movies,” Thomas says.

Gen adds that every night is a date night. “We don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day or anniversaries because every day should be a special occasion. It’s more romantic this way, and it keeps life upbeat.” 

Words of advice

08 pl-valentines day sourbombe artisanal bakery-hungrygowhere
The couple in 2019. Photo: @cjunh/Instagram

For couples looking to get into a business together, Gen and Thomas believe that if “you never try, you’ll never know”. 

“You learn more about each other in the process of starting a business,” says Thomas. “You get to know someone a lot more under pressure and you see their true colours through how they handle conflicts. 

The pair also advises to proceed with caution. “It’s still two contracts. One between you and your partner and the second is with the business itself.” 

However, Gen and Thomas think that if a couple is meant to be, their business will sort itself out — regardless of the disagreements.

For eats with a story, read about a star bartender couple who is pushing their bar to greater heights, as well as a veteran chicken hawker who spun his twist on the beloved local dish. Alternatively, check out the newest eats in town

Sourbombe Artisanal Bakery is on the GrabFood Delivery Service and offers free delivery (up to S$3 off) with GrabUnlimited. 

Book a ride to any of its outlets to try its crowd-favourite donuts. 

Do explore the GrabFood Dine-in service for awesome deals.

Sourbombe Artisanal Bakery

Multiple outlets islandwide
Open: Operating hours vary across outlets

Multiple outlets islandwide
Open: Operating hours vary across outlets

Picture for WP

Phyllis Leong


The resident sweet tooth with a severe addiction to desserts.

Read More
Scroll to top