About me

I love food. No, let me rephrase that. I love good food! I’m always in search of the best foods out there, whether it be hawker fare or fine dining in the fanciest restaurants. Now to tell you the truth, I have found that there is more below average food out there than there is good. The adventures for me (and my wife!) are always to find those special places that are typically found in the nooks and crannies of any city in the world.

I grew up in the food business during my younger years, I owned a cake and pastry business in Asia, and I have worked at the legendary French food emporium, Fauchon learning the ins and outs of the secrets of French cake and pastry making. I’m also a capable savory cook and my tastebuds are well trained to the nuances of good food around the world.

I hope to be able to share my culinary adventures with you so sit back and enjoy the ride!

stickofachef

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32 Responses to “About me”

  1. maddie Says:

    hi there
    i am glad to have found a professional! i am amateur in baking and love baking for leisure and the baked product never fails to delight me immensely. i am considering a career move into pastry baking and am wondering if you can advise where is a good place to start, especially in singapore. i want to learn more and learn from the best if possible. thank you for your invaluable advise in advance! =) you can email me…

  2. stickofachef Says:

    Hi Maddie,

    Thanks for visiting my blog. If you love baking and are considering a career move, you will have to decide if you would like to attain a diploma in Baking or you can just opt for casual baking courses from the many cooking schools here in Singapore.

    SHATEC (http://www.shatec.sg/dpb.htm) and At-Sunrice (http://www.at-sunrice.com/prof/DIPB.aspx) both offer diploma level education.

    If you’re looking at more casual baking courses, you can check out:

    Shermay’s Cooking School (http://www.shermay.com/)

    Practice, practice, practice is the key to becoming good at baking and pastry making. If getting a diploma or taking courses is too expensive, just buy yourself a good reputable cookbook and practice the recipes until you master the fundamentals of baking. With the proper foundation in place, the sky is the limit in what you can achieve in your baking and pastry creations.

    Good luck to you! 🙂

  3. maddie Says:

    hi thank you!
    diploma is indeed expensive right now for me. but i am considering casual courses first. and since pratice is very important, where can i go to seek an apprentice position with a pattisier to learn to proper techniques? thank you!

  4. stickofachef Says:

    Hi again Maddie,

    You are wise to seek an apprenticeship with a patissier to learn the basics of French cakes and pastry making. My suggestion is to write an email directly to the pastry chefs of the establishments you want to apprentice in by making a case as to why they should consider you. Of course, it goes without saying that this apprenticeship would be a non-paying position. If you are more daring, you can approach to see the pastry chef directly at the pastry shop (or hotel or restaurant) and make your case face to face. As a first step, make a list of the pastry businesses you admire and find the proper contact information through the Internet or by phoning up the establishment. Once you have the contact information, you can then decide on the best way to approach the pastry chef. Another approach could be to speak to the chefs at the cooking schools to see if they know any pastry chefs who are willing to accept you as an apprentice for a short period of time. Relationships go a long way in this business.

    An apprenticeship is very hard work consisting of long hours and it requires passion and commitment which I am sure you have. Speaking from experience, I can tell you that once you establish yourself as a committed team player with exceptional skills in the pastry team, it will be a very rewarding feeling to know that you are contributing to the success of the team and to the business as a whole. At the beginning, you will face many ups and downs and you will be challenged mentally and physically. Never give up and you will achieve your goals you set out for.

    Good luck! 🙂

  5. maddie Says:

    hello again

    so good to have some directions now. TUSEN TAKK!! (means thousand thanks in norwegian) hope to come back to u with good news!

    cheers 😀

  6. stickofachef Says:

    Great to see your enthusiasm, Maddie. Follow your dreams, don’t give up, and you will be rewarded accordingly. Enjoy your journey ahead.

    Best wishes!

  7. maddie Says:

    hi again!

    I would like to ask… is there a recommended time for apprenticeship? In your experience, how would the length of apprenticeship be decided? And what would be a ideal minimum period needed for it?

    Thanks! 😉

  8. stickofachef Says:

    Hi Maddie,

    Apprenticeship period all depends on how much time you can spare. Do you want to apprentice full time or part time? Remember that if you want to apprentice, you will not be earning any money so you have to be realistic about balancing your time between apprenticeship and your other paid job. If you want to engage in any sort of apprenticeship, I would recommend a minimum of 6 months.

    You must decide if you want this apprenticeship will lead you to a life-long career as a pastry chef or if you want to just acquire a foundation in baking and pastries and use that knowledge as a hobby in your life. Which path you take will really determine how long you are willing to dedicate to be an apprentice. The ultimate objective is to find a mentor who will take you under his wing and share his knowledge to you to further your career aspirations. It’s not an easy road and will be bumpy at times but you will achieve it if you are dedicated and committed. Just keep in mind that a traditional apprenticeship can be a full time engagement for several years but in realistic terms today, most people are not willing to sacrifice so much of their time towards such a practice. You can afford to work for free if you are very young and live at home with your parents but it gets harder when you are older with responsibilities and commitments. Only you can decide how much time you can really put towards an apprenticeship based on your personal career and financial aspirations.

    Hope this helps.

  9. maddie Says:

    Hello.

    Yes yes… it is definitely about balancing all the responsibilites vs what i like doing. If i can’t bake in a professional kitchen, then i shall bake at home! Sure things will be sorted out… and i will keep doing what i like – bake. Thank you once again!

  10. Cedric Says:

    Just an additional info … for casual baking , might want to try BITC , they have NITEC and DIP or normal short courses , I took my NITEC few yrs back , am taking DIP from at-sunrice now … Fees is cheaper there @ BITC ( singaporean can get sub @ CDAC/meldaki for nitec – i did the last time , not sure still have or not , u might need to check it out urself ) ( sunrice and shatec got sub by WDA but u need to be bond to work in SG’s FnB for 1 yr after grad ) and i do feel it does help to build some of my foundation for my current course. Cos you will learn to do everything urself from weighing to mixing to baking as they had a machine to each own.( sometimes can get a bit … hmmm too homely ( abit “sui bian” cos last time my classmates were mostly aunties , so they will tends to change bit of the recipes a bit ) where now @ at-sunrice , here , focus more on team work , more like commerical enviornment , and expose is much better here cos of the branding of the school. Personal view of apprenticeship … most of us attached to this line … not all chefs are very keen in teaching … it really depends on ur luck … cos trainees are the lowest of all rank ( sad to say but still very true in alot of places ) so i guess u really had to prove urself to the chefs and make them “touched” then only they will teach u stuffs , if not … u might ends up like some of my peers who … after 15 mths … learn nothing much from work place …. people u meet is very impt … also ur attitude towards this whole learn process … i still believe … if u prove urself … frozen chefs’ heart can be melted too and guess that is what keep me going on still in my course :p, All the best in ur choice : )

  11. stickofachef Says:

    Hi Cedric,

    You are spot on with your comment about attitude towards learning. Thanks a lot for your insight into your experience in the F&B business. Your comments are always welcomed and valued.

    Best of luck in your courses this semester! 🙂

  12. ludovic augendre Says:

    Hello ludovic there from Fauchon

    who r u ?? peter?? nice web and article about Fauchon!!

  13. stickofachef Says:

    Salut Ludo! You guessed right! Glad you found my blog. You recognize the pictures? How are things going at Mad Mac?

  14. Cedric Says:

    Hi again ,
    need some advice from you .. though might still be early ….. I be graduating in less then 5 mths ( touchwood nothing happen) was wondering ,,,, will it be better to work in a Hotel ? Fine Dining ? or Standalone pastry/desserts shop ? me currently attached to stand alone pastry … but dun really feel like staying there after grad cos feel that there is still so much more to learn out there. but then again … age might not be in my favour to fight against youngster …… where would be the best place to train myself up in the shortest time … i know alot of factors involve … let’s assuming my knowledge is little , but very keen to learn and dun mind working long hours. I just hope i can learn something in the next job and not waste any more time. Thanks in advance for your time again 🙂

  15. stickofachef Says:

    Hi Cedric,

    You ask a very good question that I am sure is on most people’s mind when they graduate from culinary school. Although the end goal is to accumulate enough experience to become an executive pastry chef for a reknowned food establishment, the answer ultimately comes down to the type of environment you want to operate in.

    Instead of asking whether you want to work in a hotel, fine dining, or standalone pastry shop, you should ask yourself whether you want to work in a high pressure restaurant kitchen environment producing desserts “à la minute” or if you want to work within a pastry shop where you don’t have the same type of time pressures but you function within the scope of producing large volumes of cakes and pastries that has extended shelf lives while maintaining quality and presentation. Both environments demand dedication and lots of hard work. Ideally, if you could gain experience working in both types of environments, you will be a much more rounded pastry chef in the end.

    Working in a restaurant kitchen pushes your creative juices since you have the flexibility to create desserts that push the boundaries of different temperatures, textures, and sensations. You will tend to do many things with restaurant desserts that you typically wouldn’t do in a pastry shop. As mentioned earlier, you can play with temperature contrasts in restaurant desserts by pairing hot components with cold or frozen components to achieve a particular contrast to your dessert creation. Things like this couldn’t be done in a pastry shop since you are building pastry products that are designed to be transported and eaten later and considerations have to be taken into creating products that will withstand external influences while maintaining a particular look and quality to the overall creation. On the other hand, you can equally push your creative boundaries in a pastry shop by creating works of art in the form of novelty cakes, wedding cakes, chocolate sculptures, or even cakes and pastries that incorporate ingenious and innovative ingredient pairings combined with outstanding presentation.

    Between a restaurant kitchen and a pastry shop, you have different environments with different circumstances catering to different customer bases.

    If I look at your situation, I would recommend that you look to gain some experience working in a restaurant environment since you already have some experience working in a pastry shop. Your learning quotient should increase dramatically in this situation and I think you will then be able to determine which environment is best for you.

    Working in the pastry world can be a very satisfying career but you really have to find the environment that best fits your character and personal ambitions.

    Hope this helps! 🙂

  16. Cedric Says:

    Hey ,,, thanks once again 😛 will let u know my choice once the time 🙂 thanks again for ur advice n help …. cheers

  17. ludovic augendre Says:

    sorry for the late answer i lost the link of ur blog….madmac is doing ok but the bad economy make us suffer a lot the past months !!!….did u erase the fauchon page on ur web ?? i can’ t find it anymore….i want to forward to some of our previous fauchon worker…
    thanks

    Ludo

  18. stickofachef Says:

    Hi Ludo,

    Inflation is affecting all parts of the world and most people are clamping down on their spend. Let’s hope things pick up for you guys at Mad Mac in the coming months.

    I did not erase any of my previous blog entries. All my articles on Fauchon are still there.

    I’d love to hear from some of our previous Fauchon colleagues. I’m in touch with Rachel but that’s about it. The last I heard, Aliou was an executive pastry chef at Georgia’s Bake Shop on the Upper West Side.

    Take care

  19. Cedric Says:

    Hey chef ,
    Me again … finally grad ….. ( but at a wrong time ) market really bad now and alot of place “freezed headcount” My currently boss did ask me to stay but i decided i wanted a different exposure as spoken b4 .. so i agree to work part time for him n find a job soon … wish me Luck …. !!!

    • stickofachef Says:

      Hi Cedric,

      Happy new year!

      Nice to hear from you. Congratulations on your graduation from your studies. You’re right. The economic conditions are not good right now and the job market has shrunk drastically for the last many months. I believe you are doing the right thing by working part time for your present boss and are looking for new opportunities at the same time. As long as you don’t give up and are creative and persistent in your job search, you will find something soon enough.

      Do let me know how things turn out for you in your job search. All the best and good luck! 🙂

  20. Mavi Says:

    hi chef,

    i already plan to soon quit my job and enroll myself in diploma course in culinary because i love good food like you and i do love baking all the time.

    Having said that, im confuse to which academy will i enroll… At-Sunrice or Shatec? Please help me decide. I would like to have a memorable experience studying and advantage in finding a job.

    Thanks much! 🙂

    • stickofachef Says:

      Hi Mavi,

      Thanks for dropping by my blog. I’m glad you plan on getting serious about getting into the culinary world. Both At-Sunrice and Shatec are very respectable culinary institutions in Singapore. However, Shatec holds the longer and more established reputation and many fine chefs have graduated from there. You can’t go wrong with either institutions and it may come down to your budget in attending these schools. I strongly recommended you meet with key people from each school to determine which one is the right one for you. As each school will provide you with high quality education, it may just come down to budget and personal comfort for your ultimate choice.

      Best wishes in your new career. Do update me on your choice when you have made it.

      Cheers! 🙂

  21. Cedric Says:

    Hey Chef , been a while since i post to u ( guess u been busy neber see any updates ) anyway finally after months of lobo , i found a perm Part time @ a hotel …. it’s really different from what i had been thru … hope i can try my best to catch up to the pace , oh b4 this i work PT @ a restrurant for a few days also , even though they offer me full time but I still decided to go for the hotel PT instead. Will update you soon ( if i survuved) LOL

    • stickofachef Says:

      Hi Cedric,

      Nice to hear from you.

      I’m actually thinking of posting something within the next month or so. Not sure what the topic will be just yet but I’ve been thinking about a few things to write about.

      Great to hear that you’ve found a job that interests you. I think working in a hotel will give you the right exposure to build your foundation in your career. Particularly if the hotel is a reputable 5 star hotel, your profile will certainly be elevated and your resume will be padded with the right credentials to build your future. I do wish you luck. Do document your experience if you can. There are interested readers like me who like to read about experiences of other pastry professionals and their trials and tribulations in the pastry kitchen. 🙂

      Good luck!

  22. Cedric Says:

    Dear chef , It’s me again. After bumping for a few months , and part time at a few places , i still ended back in a cake/pastry shop. Work PT at a hotel for 3 weeks , and find that ppl there are so busy that makes works very boring ( maybe it’s just that hotel cos they are shorthanded ) but also i find it very boring to keep doing buffets. Work at 2 different restaurants , 1 focus more on bread but no need to do service , the focus on desserts but have to do services and help out the hot side during service time. I am not sure is it becos of what i really like , or becos of where I was train from during my attachment , I dun really enjoyed both hotel and restaurant. In the end , now I am currently working at a japanese cake shop and found it hmmm more ” fitted ” in. Know it’s not gonna help much in my career compare if i was to come out from hotel but i guess for the time being , it’s where I feel comfortable most impt bah.

    • stickofachef Says:

      Hi Cedric,

      Great to hear from you. Working in a pastry shop is very different from working in a restaurant or hotel. As I’m sure you have experienced by now, the time pressures with working in service in a hotel or restaurant is very tight as compared to working in a pastry shop. Although you are busy in a pastry shop, the time pressures are not as compressed as compared to preparing a la minute plated desserts in restaurants or restocking buffet dessert bars in a hotel.

      From what I hear, it sounds like you are more suited to working at your own pace in pastry shops where you feel you can put out better quality products if you spend more quality time in preparing your creations. Stick with it for the time being, focus, and gain your much needed experience before you branch out to the other areas of service. This way, you’ll have a solid foundation to move up the ladder if you ever want to get back into hotels or restaurants later in your career.

      Best of luck to you! Looking forward to receiving more updates from you in the near future. 🙂

  23. wen Says:

    dear sir, i have a few questions in mind which need your precious advice, regarding baking and pastry school, err most importantly my doubts in making decision for a career switch. I cant find your email address here, i wish to mail you personally as it’s quite long a letter^^ please reply to my email if u don’t mind. sorry for the inconvenience caused. thanks alot and nice day to u!

  24. Can Crusher Says:

    find dining might be expensive but the menu and service is always the best *;:

  25. LT Wong Says:

    I stumbled upon your blog while searching for some baking ingredients and am wondering where one can go to sample your baking if you’re still in this line? Thanks.

    • stickofachef Says:

      Hi LT Wong,

      Thanks for your message. I left this line several years ago and now I bake for pleasure rather than for business. If I have the proper facilities and availability of time, I will also bake certain items upon request. However, I don’t have any retail business nor do I place my items in retail shops for sale in Singapore.

      I do appreciate your interest though.

      If I may ask, are you based in Singapore and do you bake as a hobby or as a professional? I’m always happy and do encourage my readers to share their knowledge and experiences as well.

      Thanks so much.

      Cheers!

  26. LT Wong Says:

    Hi stickofachef,

    Yes, I’m based in Singapore, and baking is strictly a hobby. It helps that I have family and friends who enjoy eating so there’s no waste. But the types of baking that I’ve done has changed over the years with a preference for less elaborate and simple things. If you ever bake things for sale (eg. for charity or whatever), let me know.

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