Seah Yang Chiak
“Some people see pastry chefs as artists, while others know them to be scientists. The exceptional ones, however, have been regarded by many as magicians. Highly grateful that my stint in Ferrandi has granted me invaluable insights and inspirations for French pastry, I am thrilled to bring a part of the Parisian life back to Singapore. My ultimate goal is to introduce to people the art and magnificence of French desserts by inspiring them – one bite at a time.”
A Passion Ignited
Since the tender age of 8, I aspired to be a chef. As a child, I would spend my time observing my grandmother intently as she cooked and prepared various dishes. At age 19, I graduated as top student from Shatec Institutes (Singapore) with a Diploma in Culinary Skills. I was trained as an apprentice in French fine dining restaurant Au Petit Salut, where I refined my basic techniques and knowledge of French cuisine and pastry. I subsequently moved to work at Le Bistrot du Sommelier, a bistrot offering authentic French fare.
Shortly after, I developed the urge to delve deeper into the fundamentals of pastry. This sparked in me a heightened passion for French pastries and I took more interest in creating modern French cakes, pastries, chocolates and confections. Following my passion, I decided to further improve myself. That was when I chanced upon Ferrandi Paris. FERRANDI was without a doubt my top choice because the training program for international students are superbly well-crafted, with a short but intensive time span of only 5 months. What also caught my attention was the school’s network of many top names in the F&B industry that offer students a myriad of opportunities to choose from. A valuable internship experience in Paris was definitely what I’d hope to look for.
Life in FERRANDI Paris
In February 2018 I was enrolled in the Intensive Professional Programme in French Pastry at Ferrandi. I will always be grateful to have had the opportunity to work alongside several of the school’s chefs in conducting professional pastry classes and demonstrations to others. I was also selected to be involved in major events such as ‘Salon de la Pâtisserie’ and ‘Taste of Paris’, where I worked together with professionals of the industry, such as the chefs of the Ladurée Paris.
After Paris - The Next Chapter
After graduating from Ferrandi, I came back to Singapore and founded Chiak Pâtisserie, a homebased business focused on producing haute French cakes and pastries. I have redesigned my home kitchen to include professional appliances & equipment. In the future, I have plans to rent a commercial space and further expand my business.
Heavily inspired by the exceptional standards of both the French chefs and pastries alike, I have made it my absolute ambition to bring a part of Ferrandi and Paris back to Singapore. I am excited to let people around me experience the wonders of French desserts without having to travel around half the world.
Une Pâtisserie Chez Moi
My current business at home works through an online platform. I use social media as a means to market my products and I will work on an official website and facebook business page in the near future. Each time I launch a menu, it could be a range of entremets, tarts, sweets like macarons or four secs. Upon ordering, customers can then choose to self-collect or arrange a delivery.
Every festive season (e.g Christmas, Chinese New Year, Valentine’s Day, Mid-Autumn Festival) I will include a seasonal menu that expresses the festival itself. For example, for the mid-autumn festival 2018, I sold an entremet that was designed to look like the actual moon (i.e. un trompe l’oeil) and contain flavours of the traditional Chinese “mooncake” pastry such as lotus seeds and salted duck egg yolk. For Christmas 2018 I made a Bûche de Noel called “Fleur de Neige” that abstractly resembled flower petals and crystals of ice in a snowflake. Its components consisted of classic Christmas flavours like chestnut, vanilla and blackcurrant, with a hint of rosemary.
Looking back, I am highly appreciative of how well Ferrandi has equipped me with the fundamental skills and knowledge of pastry. Me being able to run my own pastry business is hugely because of how Ferrandi has prepared me to be a good pâtissier.
Besides running my own business, I conduct intensive Research & Development at home to develop new ideas and create new products. I work on exploring the pairing of flavours, textures and colours in my products, reminiscing the days I spent in Ferrandi learning and absorbing as much information as I could at that time. I constantly source for inspiration – be it from professional chefs, pâtisseries or even mother nature – to create aesthetic desserts that are not only stunning and pleasing to the eye, but also perfectly balanced in taste and texture.
On the side, I am also delving deeper into the world of breadmaking by making my own sourdough starter, aptly named Sophie for the wisdom and insight I gained with her inception. With Sophie, I have made numerous sourdough loaves with incredible results. I often refer to the notes and apply the knowledge gained during the boulangerie lessons back in the days of FERRANDI.
I have only Ferrandi to thank for providing me with not only a Diploma in Intensive French Pastry, but also the vast knowledge, skills and savoir-faire of French baking, pastry & chocolates. With these on hand, I am now able to provide consultancy services to F&B businesses in Singapore who want to improve, upgrade or even create recipes and ideas that will significantly help their operations and sales.
As an example, a local business sought my consultancy to improve a current dessert they had on their menu. They are a merchant who sells durians, a very popular tropical fruit in Singapore. I worked with them to perfect the recipe for their Durian Mousse, a dessert loved by many Singaporeans. The recipe was a success and sales has been picking up ever since. Together, we also launched the Durian Shortcake, a light Japanese cake made with a fluffy sponge and a high grade 猫山王durian cream filling.
Lastly, I constantly maintain contact with previous chefs whom I’ve worked with. I collaborate with them for special events if required, such as the recent World Gourmet Summit 2019 Singapore, where I helped Le Bistrot du Sommelier, a popular French Bistrot here, to produce the desserts for the event. The desserts included: Tarte au Café and Citron.
Life as a Pâtissier
Working with pastry has honed me to be a much more patient person. It has taught me to respect ingredients, precision and procedure. But if there’s one lesson that I’ve learned from becoming a pastry chef, it is to always be humble regardless of where one stands and how far one has progressed. Because in reality, we can never finish learning, improving and refining ourselves. There’s an infinite number of potential ideas for food and pastry out there in the world, and the best that we can do in our one lifespan is to get as inspired as we can, while enjoying the journey of exploration along the way.