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Rediscover Brunei Darussalam through the eyes of the People

Friday, 02 June 2017 10:30

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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everyone

Monday, 20 March 2017 11:05

1003320 4414185931085 939645478 nEditor's Note: We are happy to introduce you to Fairuz 'Zabady. He's a recognised figure in the street art scene in Brunei. In this feature, Fai shares about his humble beginnings and offers sage advice from years of practising this craft. Follow his journey on Instagram @stain.bn and reach out to him for all things murals, graffiti and art supplies and workshops. Keep up the good work, bro!

Tell us about yourself.
For my day job, I'm a film maker working at Origin Films. But my first love has always been painting. I graduated from University of Southampton, UK with a Masters Degree in Fine Arts and have been actively painting (specifically Graffiti Art) since 2005.

When did your passion for art begin?
Both my parents are creatives, I guess that's where I got most of the drive from. I've always enjoyed drawing, scribbling and painting ever since I can remember. But about 2005 was when I first picked up and fell in love with spray paint, graffiti and its culture, the rest was history. It was unique, rebellious and I was determined to be the best at it. It became my main medium of producing art.

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How did you develop your talent? Share with us your choice in medium of art.
I never considered myself talented, but people started noticing my work. Maybe because spray paint was not an ordinary medium to use for painting, and the attention that I received from it, drove me to do better each time I produced an artwork. I spent a lot of time experimenting with my medium, trying out different techniques and brands, analyzing my latest work, and to identify what needs to be improved, added, removed in the next one. My work consists of a lot of visual problem solving to achieve a piece of work that is visually pleasing. I spent years with this process. I painted almost daily when I could.

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At the start, did you have a mentor or attend workshops?
With graffiti, it's a very lonely world when you are starting out. It still is. Maybe it's because of the negative connotation that lingers around it. You secretly sketch in your sketchbook out of interest / curiosity and there isn't anybody to tell you what's wrong or right. It was the same for me too. I never attended any workshops nor had a mentor, and everything in my practice is self-taught. This was because these resources were not easily available. All I had were "graff" friends and we bounced ideas and sketches off each other and that's how we improved.

After a while, you will start to notice your own weaknesses in your work and act upon them. We were our own mentors. We had to figure out ourselves how to work the spray paint, which nozzles to use, which brands to use, etc. But today, with the advanced technology of internet and social media, everything is within reach. A simple search on YouTube can already teach you the basics of graffiti.

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In your perspective, what do you think about the art scene in Brunei?
Young and a little bit all over the place.

It's not a bad thing, and because it's dominated by the youth, the drive is strong. Everybody wants to prove something in their work and it's great. However, it's not as united as it should be. Maybe because the support given to creatives are limited, whether in the sense of education or even professionally. We grow up brainwashed to accept the skewed fact "If you aren't smart enough, you go to art class". So when artists try to make a living here professionally, we are considered less equal and less valuable by majority of the public regardless of how talented one is.

Within the art communities itself, it is noticed that the political / personal agendas affect the unity of the art community as a whole. The unity between the different generations (young & old) of artists is also non-visible. I strongly believe, Art should speak as one, art should have a united voice. There is much growing up to do in the current art scene in Brunei.

Any suggested solutions?
A more focused syllabus in the art education system. Also, greater support for the local artists by relevant bodies. And of course, someday an arts district to be allocated, where everything creative is in one area/place, including more wall space for our mural art.

Are they any future projects or something you're working on that you'd like to share with everyone?
The second Graffiti Art competition "Write This". Which is scheduled to happen middle of the year. If you've missed last year's, check out these videos on YouTube.

Finally, any advice to those who want to get into graffiti art?
A lot of of the younger creatives that I've met always question their ability to produce good work. They don't believe in themselves enough to produce good work, or refuse to challenge themselves to produce work because they are scared of judgement, or come up with many excuses to start making good work, for example the latest I've heard when I asked, "When are you gonna start with spray?". To my surprise their answers were along the lines of "nda berani bro, tunggu handal bro." Which loosely translates to "I'm not courageous enough, wait till I become an expert".

In a country of limited freedom of expression, there should be a drive to produce more mind awakening art. But instead we see a wave of "Let's not do that because we might get into trouble". We need to rid ourselves off this mentality. Work within your bubble, but make the bubble grow. My advice is, to tell you the hard truth. I did not get to where I am just by talent alone. It took years of almost daily painting and practice to master my art, and I am still learning constantly.

Every day is a learning process. The more you wait, the more you are scared to learn from your mistakes and another day is lost for improvement. If you are interested in graffiti, just pick up that spray can and do it. There's nothing to lose if you start now. If you need specific technique advice, just contact me on Instagram, I'll do my best to advice.image3

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everyone

Monday, 13 March 2017 08:09

New music video from Azizi Sabri, featuring Aadilah.

Tuesday, 07 March 2017 08:29

Gaining momentum across the internets with over 4,000 views on Facebook and nearly 8,000 views on YouTube, here's 'America First, Brunei Second'. Produced by @emmagoodegg, with thanks to The Collective and Brunei's Trump vocal impersonator.

Thursday, 23 February 2017 15:43

1 Shaikh presenting his speech on Building Peaceful Just and Inclusive Society

Shaikh presenting his speech on ‘Building Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Society’

Miri – 22 February 2017 – Shaikh Tahmid Hassin, a mass communication student of Curtin University, Malaysia (Curtin Malaysia) had the honour of speaking as a representative of the Model United Nations of Curtin Malaysia (MUN.CM) at the recent 3rd Annual World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA) International Model United Nations, also known as WIMUN.

The event was held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 1 to 4 February and attended by over 850 delegates from around the world.

Model United Nations (MUN) is an educational simulation in which university students employ their skills of diplomacy, international relations and the code and conducts of the United Nations. The Model United Nations of Curtin Malaysia (MUN.CM) was formed in 2011 and currently has over 25 members. Its members actively participate in international MUN events and organises events of its own at the Curtin Malaysia campus.

WIMUN follows the UN4MUN approach to simulating UN meetings where it offers the most accurate simulation of the UN and provides participants an insight into the functions of the world body. UN officials or delegates are invited to speak on the topics for each committee and topics selected are from the actual UN agenda. Through this format, the delegates are able to better understand the topics and how these topics are debated, negotiated and implemented in real life.

Shaikh, who hails from Bangladesh, is the current Deputy Secretary-General of MUN.CM and one of the founding members of the annual Borneo Model United Nations Conference hosted by Curtin Malaysia.

He was selected by Curtin Malaysia to attend WIMUN based on his performance at the Global MUN Conference held at BRAC University in Dhaka, Bangladesh, as well as his achievements over the years as a participant at several international MUN conferences in Asia.

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About the Editor

new about me profI am a born and bred Bruneian who lived and worked in Australia for over 10 years. I am now based in Brunei. Having spent time away from Brunei, I have learnt that, to know a country is to know the people. To truly appreciate a new place is to see it through their eyes, to listen to their stories, to taste, smell, do and feel as they do.

Everyone has a Story, and this blog - Projek Brunei, features the stories, music, photography and art of locals and of people who have lived or worked in Brunei before. Join me on this project, a project to discover and rediscover this country they call the Abode of Peace, the Heart of Borneo, this place they call the Kingdom of Unexpected Treasures...through the stories of the People.

You may know me by my online moniker, @BruneiTweet. I created BruneiTweet in 2009, and currently (October 2016), I have over 30,000 followers. I am passionate about community, and use social media to connect with people - both on and offline.

I have an MBA, a keen interest in business-development and marketing, and I am a three-time TEDx speaker. I believe in the power of social media and collaboration. I have worked alongside corporate organisations on various community projects. Some highlights from my journey to date: In 2011, I co-organised Twestival Brunei to raise awareness and funds for Brunei’s Child Development Centre. That year I also organised Convergence, Brunei’s first youth led leadership forum. In 2012, I co-organised Movember to raise awareness on men's health issues. In 2013, I participated at various forums including Brunei's National Environment Conference and the ASEAN Social Media Exchange in Thailand. In 2014, I was selected to represent Brunei at the Australia-ASEAN Emerging Leaders Programme. In 2015, I was involved as a panel moderator in an International Women's Day event, and was invited to speak at the Green Leaders Eco-Camp in Brunei about using social media with purpose.
 
But enough about me.

If you have something interesting to share with the rest of the world about Brunei or are interested in being featured on ProjekBrunei, reach me here or email me at bruneitweet@gmail.com.

I would love to hear your side of the story.

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.