Words by Candy Tee
“Until you step into the unknown, you don’t know what you’re made of.” ~ Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart.
Transiting from his position as an Applied Mathematics undergraduate in National University of Singapore, Choo Po Yen ventured bravely into the baking industry with a heart full of aspiration to become a pastry chef. His previous experience setting up a small-scale Instagram business made him eager to learn the ropes in scaling up a baking establishment and open a cafe of his own one day.
When the opportunity to join the renowned bakery Patisserie G presented itself, Choo dove into the six months in-house training provided by Patisserie G under NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute (e2i)’s Place and Train Scheme. The scheme is a collaboration between e2i and companies to develop training programmes, through both in-house and with external training partners, to help address manpower shortages in many industries and tackle skills-gaps among job seekers interested in taking on the available jobs.
A Life-Changing Traineeship
The training from February to August 2020 enabled Choo to acquire a variety of skill sets ranging from time management in the kitchen, to specific techniques to produce various desserts, pastries and savoury food like sausage roll and the wellington. The structured training also invited chefs from successful food establishments at different intervals to demonstrate specific baking techniques and provide invaluable pointers to trainees after observing the trainees at work in the kitchen.” To be able to observe first-hand how professional chefs work is truly an eye-opening experience for me,” recalls Choo how he was at awe as he admired the chefs at work.
“The main take-away for me throughout this training is to have good time management when working in a professional kitchen. I was taught to plan ahead, to think about all the equipment and ingredients needed, and how to portion the ingredients according to the space in the oven or the chiller and freezer. This knowledge benefited me greatly when I got down to actual baking at Patisserie G. We had to bake in batches, which requires a lot of the above-said planning,” said Choo.
Assuming a full commis chef position at Patisserie G after the training, Choo also shares his belief that all new employees should be given the opportunity to attend training like he did, to acquire relevant background skills in order to assimilate into the workplace more successfully. “The training has helped employees like myself learn different basic skills to perform a variety of tasks at the workplace. All of us will be expected to multitask to a certain degree. It allowed us to learn to be adaptable to different situations as well. I was lucky to be able to work with Patisserie G during the Covid-19 period as I experienced how to adapt myself to work in the circuit breaker period conditions and witness first-hand how businesses adapt to ever-changing circumstances.”
Gaining Skills, Changing Lives, Fulfilling Dreams
When enquired if he would welcome further training courses, Choo reveals that he looks forward to courses that impart how to temper chocolate, as well as decorating and designing cakes. “At Patisserie G, my main role was to prepare hot food, breakfast, as well as savoury food. If possible, I would like to advance towards baking gourmet pastry and cake designing, as this has always been my key area of interest”.
We wish the best for Choo’s pursuit in the baking industry and all his future endeavours.