Big Bern’s : Stubbornly Entrepreneurial

By KF Seetoh - Friday, Nov 27, 2020

He hails from Detroit, Michigan in the United States and once traversed across the country in his Harley Davidson and Honda Goldwing bikes, with that born-to-be-wild spirit. He felt the need to get out of that comfort zone and travelled to Asia, and this former Electric Wire Line Formation Test Specialist (some oil rigger specialist), never looked back. Bernie Utchenik settled in Singapore, set up his American style chain of eateries which he “prefers being located in coffeeshops”. He felt the range of “western” food here was an unfinished story. He successfully went from Bernies, BFC to Botak Jones then sold it after almost 20 years, and wanted to walk into the sunset with his Singaporean wife Zee. “But I still have bills to pay.”, so he continued with Big Bern’s, with that same bold Yankee spirit menu. All this from a man who’s never been in the F&B business before.


Zee and Bernie on his “Hardly a Davidson” mobile wheelchair


He is now pushing 70 and still at it, big, bald and bold and almost stubbornly so. He moved from a Harley Davidson and now to “hardly a Davidson”, a pet name he gave his mobile wheelchair that he zips about on today as his ailments and age is catching up. His Muslim wife Zee now helms the show while Bernie shows up only to curate and refine the menu and recipe. He recently opened their second outlet here and I note the consistency in their food. It is hard to forget his southern American style menu. Their signature best seller Cajun Chicken ($7.80) is grilled and comes springy soft and moist, topped with melted cheddar and a spicy Cajun sauce (hints of cayenne powder, garlic, pepper and even oregano) with a hearty side of salad and fries. The mindboggling “Lots of Chicken Platter “ set ($18), comes with three grilled chicken in three flavours- Cajun, Black Pepper and Mushrooms sauce.. with sides of garlic rice and salad, is a feast for at least two.


Three chicken and Three Sauces – Lots of Chicken Platter


They use a 200grams Prime Rib Eye cut for the steak


The Beef Steak, and Bernie shrugged at just how thin most steak places here offer them, is another comforting signature. The thicker slab of Prime Steer Rib Eye ($24.50) is well seared and juicy within (state your choice of done-ness) and a blob of herb butter rests atop with Cajun fries and salad. Difficult to hate this one, unless you are beef intolerant. That Double Beef Cheese Burger ($18) looks like a heartburn you won’t mind having- two beefy patties, encased in a molten cheese with salad, greens and fries. The pick and match menu allows you to choose any two side dishes with the main dish you order- – from buttered sweet corn kernels, pasta salad, buttered dill rice, crinkle fries etc.. It helps to make the whole dish feel a little different each time you try it.


The decadent Double Beef Cheese Burger


I asked if they would be coming up with new stuff to up the ante, so the said, “Southern Fried Chicken, coming soon”.. something that is so comforting with mass appeal. I can’t wait.


Big Bern’s
Gluttons Bay, 8 Raffles Ave,
Tue – Fri: 3pm to 10.30pm
Sat & Sun: 1pm to 10.30pm (current Covid operation hours)