A sweet success

3 min

6 shares, 19 points

A sweet success 1

CHEF Tan Wei Loon’s sugar display collapsed when he first competed in the World Pastry Cup in Lyon, France (also known as Coupe du Monde De La Patisserie) in 2013, but six years later, he and his teammates walked away from the competition with the World Champion title, for the best sugar display, best chocolate display and chocolate entremet.

Hard work and persistence pays.

Inspired by a TV show from Japan, Tan had wanted to be a chef ever since he was a child. Not only have his dreams come true, but he went above and beyond to win awards, both internationally and locally.

Tan also won the Asia Champion title in the Asia Pastry Cup (Singapore) in 2018, and was second runner-up in the Global Pastry Chef (Hong Kong) in 2013.

Currently, Tan is sharing his knowledge with students at a pastry academy and hopes to start an online pastry brand.

Who is your biggest inspiration?

“Chef Jean Francois Arnaud. He is the one who inspired me the most to become a pastry chef. He is a MOF (Meilleurs Ouvriers de France), which means the Best Craftsman in France. His passion towards pastry inspires me (in terms of my perspective about pastry) and the way he works in the kitchen or outside, is the perfect example for all chefs to follow.”

What is the most difficult part of making sugar artwork or pastry?

“I think it is the heat because I work with sugar at a temperature of between 65°C-70°C. If the temperature gets lower than 60°C, the sugar will start to set and it cannot be shaped (or moulded). So, I need to work very fast before the sugar gets cool.

“This is considered one of the hardest parts of pastry-making, as it requires skill and lots of practice to adapt to the texture and characteristics of the sugar.”

What is the latest trend in pastry or sugar artworks?

“I think the current trend that the world is adopting is to go back to nature. In the pastries, we try to use all the natural ingredients and avoid using too much of artificial products like colouring and additives. For the art work, these days, the chefs are trying to bring the idea of ‘recycle’ or ‘save the earth’ themes when it comes to design.”

What is the most memorable moment in your life, as a chef?

“Definitely it is the Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie 2019 (World Pastry Cup). The moment when they announced Malaysia as the World Champion. Until now, I can still feel the excitement in my heart because I spent more than seven years to achieve the goal, and I believe the competition is a dream-come-true moment for any pastry chef.

“There is also another moment that I can’t forget, which also took place at the World Pastry Cup, but it was in 2013. It was my first time in the competition, and I remember just five minutes before the competition finished, the sugar showpiece that I and my team made collapsed, at the very moment we wanted to carry it to the presentation table.

“It was really hard for me, and it was the hardest moment in my career. Luckily, I had my teammates and my manager, who helped me to ‘walk away’ from that incident.

“Now, when I think about that incident, I am grateful because I have learned a lot from it. It made me understand [how to deal with] unexpected situations but most importantly, I learned that I have to go through such situations to become a better person.”

What is your opinion about pastry-making in Malaysia?

“In Malaysia, we are very much influenced by Asian-style pastries. Of course, we have our own desserts called Malay kuih.

“These are very unique, but are not that easily accepted as desserts or pastries by non-Malaysians. There is a very big gap when it comes to understanding the differences between pastries, cakes and local desserts.

“I believe the pastry industry in Malaysia is improving, as we can see there are more French-style pastry shops and bakeries opening in the market.

“These bakeries don’t just do cream and sponge cakes anymore – now, they have started to develop a variety of flavour combinations. They are also trying to use local ingredients to mix into their pastries.”

What do you think of French pastries with local flavours?

“As a chef, it is important to use local ingredients no matter whether we are making French pastries, or cooking cuisines. Local flavours like pandan, calamansi or gula Melaka can easily be used in pastry making.

What are your future plans?

“I am planning to do an online business for pastries, named Enchante Patisserie. My target is to have my own brand in the future. Another goal of mine is to slowly change views about Malaysian pastries. One day when the world talks about pastries, I hope they will mention our local pastries.”

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