The making of a pastry chef
How did you get into pastry-making?
I never thought of becoming a pastry chef. I wanted to be a fireman. But joining the Professionals Pastry School's pastry course (the course is now offered at Vocational Training Centre) changed my life forever. I developed a huge interest in making pastries.
I was very lucky to begin my career at a five-star hotel where I met chef Yves Matthay who taught me a lot about pastry-making and chocolate sculpting.
Where do you get your inspiration?
I get my inspiration from many sources. Eating is one way of getting inspired. Whenever I eat, the different ingredients inspire me to mix and match and form a new flavour.I also draw inspiration from other chefs. I look at their masterpieces and check out window displays.
What was the breakthrough point in your career?
While the hotel I was working in was under renovation, I had the chance of going to France and learn from Pierre Gagnaire, who has won three Michelin stars, and one of the top chefs in the world. At that time, I had about 10 years of experience under my belt. I already had a clear idea of how to mix and match different ingredients. Learning from chef Gagnaire took my understanding of ingredients to a whole new level. I never thought of using cucumber in dessert.
In France, I had a new understanding of mixing and matching ingredients which benefits me greatly when I need to create my own recipe and pastry collections.
How did you become VERO's executive chef?
After working in a hotel for more than 10 years, I considered opening my own cake shop. One day I came across VERO products in a department store. I found them very elegant and I realised it was a local brand name.
I called up the owner, Roger Chan, and requested for a meeting with him. We clicked instantly, things went really well and he offered me the position of executive chef and more importantly, the freedom to do things my way - from the renovation of the shop to making recipes.
What are your main duties?
I overlook the operation of the cake shop. I create recipes and teach staff to make pastries. I take quality control very seriously. I tell my staff to follow each and every step in my recipes.
How would you describe your pastries?
My pastries cannot be called Japanese, French or anything. I have my own style and love to mix ingredients. I like strong flavour but not too sweet. I never have customers second-guessing what they are tasting because I believe a good chef should give customers a clear idea of what they are eating.
What are your plans?
I would like to participate in more international pastry contests. Right now I am preparing for the 2012 International Confectionery Art Competition.