I’ve been in Australia for about six weeks and was getting a little tired of pies. So, I decided to eat some of my cultural food – noodles.

Here’s a little trick when picking out restaurants – look for the one with the most locals.

Ultimately, I decided to have Vietnamese noodles called, “pho.” It sounds like “fun” less the “n.” So, it’s like “un-pho-gettable.”

Anyway, when I finally got my noodles, I searched for a Chinese soup spoon to no avail. And I even tried multiple Asian restaurants. They either have a tiny Chinese soup spoon or a Western soup spoon.

Unlike Western soup spoons with just a wider base, Chinese soup spoons are deep as well; almost like a tiny boat. The purpose is so that you could put noodles in them coupled with soup for a mouthful of pleasantness.

pho noodles

I knew that it was going to be a disaster before I even started. Sure enough … disaster.

Throughout my multiple failed attempts at putting noodles in my spoon for the perfect airplane ride into my mouth, things came apart. Noodles slipped off. Meatballs fell. This caused a few problems.

  • Soup splashed all over my clothes.
  • Soup splashed on my friends’ clothes.
  • It took me a much longer time to eat.

And we can’t give them the benefit of the doubt because … as if I was a glutton for punishment … I tried various restaurants! Same thing. Additionally, they all spoke fluent Canotnese / Mandarin (Chinese dialects), so they know. They sooo know.

Maybe they were all were secretly conducting some sick experiment to see how much soup they can get on patrons. Who knows?

Time For Calculators

After getting half of the soup on my clothes, I decided to do some quick calculations. In capitalistic America, it’s all about efficiency. The more tables you can “flip,” the more money you make. It’s that simple.

I’m not going to even talk about the many other ways they can improve. I just want to address spoons.

It took me (and I’m guessing) 50% more time to eat with the wrong tool. Imagine eating a steak with a spork. Based on when I checked-in on FourSquare, I estimated my dinner took about 45 minutes to eat. I can do it in 25-30 minutes back in Los Angeles.

There were roughly 10 tables with 2-4 patrons per table. Each bowl was about $15. Let’s assume that they’re packed for 5 hours a day.

Ugly Spoon Good Spoon
Hours Packed 5 5
Tables 10 10
Patrons per Table 2 2
Cost per Bowl $15 $15
Flip Time 3/4 hour 1/2 hour
Daily Gross Sales $2,000 $3,000


Difference: $1,000 extra a day.

Bottom line, change the spoons. Better spoons mean faster turnovers, thus more money … and less splashing.

Where Can You Save Time?

While most photography businesses do not generate $2,000-$3000 a day, the point of my story is to help creative businesses self-reflect on what to make more efficient.

Another common misconception is that time is equivalent to dollars earned. Personally, I can’t put a price tag on spending a couple of hours reading a good book. For others, it might be spending time with their kids.

Think about it,

Lawrence Chan

P.S. Any photographers in Sydney want to meet on September 13th at 3PM? Comment below.

P.P.S. The ship missed Japan by a tad bit – SS Maheno Shipwreck at Fraser Island, Australia.

maheno shipwreck