Thursday Nov 23

  • JoomlaWorks Simple Image Rotator

Get to Know Eileen Lee of Butter 'N' Eggs

IMG 1794

Editor's Note: In this feature, we chat with Eileen Lee from Butter 'N' Eggs (BnE). She shares about the origins of BnE, pastry chefs who inspire her, popular BnE desserts, but perhaps most important, the importance of a strong work ethic. To follow the BnE journey, check out their IG page here.

Tell us about yourself.
I have always loved art and design since I was young, which is why I initially pursued Graphic Designing and Motion Graphics at University. After 4 years in the field as a Graphic and Motion Graphics designer, I decided to leave my job to further my passion in baking by enrolling in a Diplôme de Pâtisserie course at Le cordon Bleu in London.

I am quite an active person in general and enjoy being outdoors and playing sports, especially basketball. Nowadays if I'm not out with friends, I'm either working out or baking up a storm in the kitchen. Baking has always been my passion since I was a little girl and I'm grateful that it has become a dream job that I love waking up to every day.

When did you pick up the interest for baking?
I started baking around the age of 10. I remember watching one of my cousins bake for the family and I loved lending her a hand in any way possible. I tried to learn a few things here and there but never got to bake from start to finish by myself until later on.

What was the first thing you baked?
I can't exactly remember what the first thing I baked was, but I do remember one of the first cakes I baked was the Japanese cotton cheesecake. As a stubborn perfectionist, I felt like I needed to get it spot on. Back then, I had no technical baking knowledge, so I didn't know why my cakes turned out too soggy, too soft, too dry, etc. Getting the right texture and flavour for one cake took me months! Trial after trial, tweaking the same recipe multiple times, I think my family got sick of eating the same cake almost every day. It was super fun though and I remember enjoying the whole process of it. That was when I found baking quite therapeutic and baked whenever I could when I didn't have any homework from school.

How did you develop your skills after that?
A lot of it was self-taught at first. Reading books, online articles and lots of recipes. Sometimes it was just learning from trial and error. It was only after two years of starting Butter 'N' Eggs that I felt the need to expand my knowledge and skills to be properly certified as a pastry chef. I guess being in the design field helped as well and influenced the way in which I decorate and design my cakes and desserts. I believe not only do cakes and desserts need to taste good, they also need to be appealing to the eye. That is what captures a customer's attention at first glance.

IMG 2615

IMG 2021

IMG 8709

Who are the pastry chefs you look up to, and why?
There are too many to name! Many pastry chefs and bakers all around the world inspire me in many ways. There's no specific one because each one of them have their own special skill sets that I admire. For example, you have world class famous chefs like Frank Haasnoot, Cedric Grolet, Antonio Bachour, Polly Kosheleva, François Brunet who are really great at making different kinds of chocolates and pastries on a professional level.

Then you have popular online home bakers like Katherine Sabbath, Linda Lomelino, Izzy Hossack who bakes beautiful home desserts that caters to other fellow home bakers who are trying their hand at something delicious yet simple and homey. Thanks to social media, especially Instagram, I have been able to conveniently browse through all their creations for constant inspiration. Looking at the quality of their creations pushes me to be better and makes me work even harder to achieve the same level of perfection.

One chef that I particularly looked up to during my time in London was Chef Masayuki Hara. I had the privilege of working closely with him when I interned at his patisserie in London called Lanka. It is a dainty little patisserie with Japanese-French fusion pastries and aromatic hand-picked Sri Lankan tea by the chef himself. I look up to him because of how passionate he is with everything he creates. He pays particular attention to details and he's taught me a lot in the short months that I have helped out in his kitchen. A very humble and skillful chef, strict but friendly and a great mentor. There was something he said one day that has stuck to me till this day and it was, "You have to love people to love what you do. When you start loving people, you will love the things you make because you want to make them happy and feed them with delicious food." It all makes sense, and I agree. The biggest sense of satisfaction in this line of job for me, is seeing how my desserts make people happy. The smile and positive reaction when they take their first bite makes it all worth it.

IMG 4399

Tell us about Butter 'N' Eggs.
Butter 'N' Eggs started in the late 2012, when I still had my day job as a Motion Graphics Designer and baking was just a side hobby. How it started was when one of my closest friend came up with the idea of teaming up with me baking and her doing a lot of the PR for Butter 'n' Eggs. At that time, I was really worried because I never thought my cakes were good enough for sale and at the same time I had to put more focus on my day job. She eventually won me over with her idea and so we decided to start the business through Instagram. I was not confident and worried about the response we would receive but after some thought, I asked myself why not? We've got nothing to lose, and if all fails, we will just close our account and that will be that. Who knew Butter 'N' Eggs would continue to  grow till this day.

We named ourselves Butter 'N' Eggs because my friend loves her butter and I love my eggs, why not put two really important baking ingredients together right? Business was slow at first as Instagram users were not as active as they are with the app now. However we were at an advantage as there was not a lot of Instagram shops/ home bakers around when we first started. So slowly, the two of us built BnE and business started picking up after a few months. I had to juggle between being a full-time designer by day and part time baker by night. Something like batman except I'm no billionaire and I was constantly exhausted. I'm really thankful for my awesome ex bosses who were so kind and lenient with me at that time. And also to my partner for helping out with the orders while I was away at my day job.

After, I think, half a year? My partner decided that it was time for her to move on from Butter 'N' Eggs. It was a really sad moment but we both knew and came to a mutual agreement that she should do what was best for herself. I however, decided to continue with the business because I thought it was a shame to just throw all our hard work away as business was slowly picking up. It was also because I enjoyed it so much that I couldn't give it up.

So it has been a one lady show for almost 4 years now. There have been many days where I hardly get any sleep and am on my feet in the kitchen for more than 24 hours to fulfill orders, but this came with the job description so I've well prepared for that.

I can say I've been blessed with very supportive family and friends who've stuck around and helped me through difficult times. I'm very thankful for each and every one of them, especially my friend and ex-partner, who has pushed me to start something from a side hobby to a full-time job. If it wasn't for her, BnE wouldn't have existed and I would probably still be a full-time designer.

IMG 1427

IMG 9912

What's the most popular dessert that is sought after by people?
So far, the most popular dessert has been the Salted Egg Eclair that I've created. There was a salted egg craze at one point, so I went into a little 'research & development' mode and started experimenting with flavours. I am extremely happy with the positive response that came with it.

As for cakes, I would say the hype now is the watermelon cake. The original recipe was from Black Star Pastry in Sydney and my version is slightly different from it. The hype for the cake caught on soon after I posted that it was for sale and I guess it's a crowd winner because of how light and refreshing the cake is. The combination of flavours, with the rose cream, watermelon and strawberries work wonderfully together. I'm sure mine is nowhere near as light as the original cake, but hopefully my version of it will suffice.

IMG 3808

IMG 4898

Any future plans you'd like to share?
Mm..nothing much for now. I've just sent out job applications overseas to work in hotels as a pastry chef. Not sure where I'll end up going yet, but hopefully somewhere I can create wonderful desserts and learn from the best chefs around the world. Maybe I will open a little patisserie of my own one day.

IMG 6717

Any advise for aspiring pastry chefs like yourself for those who are starting out?
Love what you do and do it well. You've got to have passion and the right mentality to work in a kitchen as it's so fast paced with long hours.
Never give up no matter how tiring, how grueling the hours are in the kitchen. Always be humble, always strive to be better and never stop learning. At the end of a long day, when you step back and look at all the beautiful desserts you've created, there's no words to describe the immense sense of satisfaction and happiness you get from it.

IMG 0215

IMG 4895

IMG 0225

everyone

Related Posts with Thumbnails

You, You and You

Something interesting to share with the rest of the world about Brunei? Interested in being featured on ProjekBrunei.com? Reach me here.