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Get to Know Eileen Lee of Butter 'N' Eggs

Written by Shaun Lim 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

Royal Brunei Yacht Club: Sailing

Written by Delwin Keasberry Monday, 28 May 2012 09:43

Greetings Readers! A few weeks ago I received a text message that went "Say, how would you like to come sailing this weekend?" My mind started wandering and somehow landed on imagery of a 50 foot yacht. I imagined board shorts and Hawaiian shirts and chilled sparkling fruit juices being served while my imaginary 20 friends and I sat around listening to Jamie Cullum singing "High and Dry". I have never been "sailing" and so I asked "Do I need to bring anything?", expecting the response to be "Nothing...just come prepared for loads of fun!" but instead all I got was "water, sunscreen, and waterproof shoes would be handy". Not thinking too much into it, I left it as that.

Next thing I know, I am at the Royal Brunei Yacht Club at Serasa Beach. My friend Romain is already there with his dad and his friend...on his 4-man sailboat. "Okay, you start helping us set up." And across the next hour, there we were under the hot 11.00am sun setting up. Ropes, rudder, sails and more ropes. The sailboat was ready but we decided to have lunch before the launch.

The Sailboat

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Raining down at Serasa Beach

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Oppy Sailing

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It was my second time having a meal at the Royal Brunei Yacht Club; the first time was over 20 years ago. From their website:

The Serasa club house situated on Serasa spit comes very much into its own over weekends and holidays. Families enjoy the informal atmosphere of the open air restaurant and a varied menu – now updated regularly by “specials”. There is an open air swimming pool and a children’s play area as well as the boating activity, and full shower and changing facilities.

The position on the Muara Bay allows a stunning view towards the Crocker Mountain range in Sarawak. The garden has been landscaped in recent years and tables and chairs allow parents to socialise while supervising their children’s play on the beach. The Serasa facility opened in 1980 but was soon expanded due to its popularity. It is an open-air stilt-house design, with a private beach area. An air conditioned room with large-screen TV is also available for members use, and there is a small library of books.

Media Release: Curtin University’s rise in global rankings key to attracting international and domestic students

Thursday, 13 July 2017 15:02

1 Curtin Malaysia largest international campus and Asian hub of Curtin University a global world ranked university

Miri – 12 July 2017 – Many consider a university’s continual strong showing in global academic rankings a reliable indicator of the quality and status of the institution, including its industry connections, research, courses and employability of its graduates.

Curtin University is a case in point, with a strong global reputation that has seen it rise up the international university rankings in recent years. It rose significantly to 262nd position in the world in the recent QS World University Ranking (QSWUR) 2017-18, up from 306th in 2016-17, and was placed 15th nationally. It is also ranked in the top two per cent of universities worldwide and 10th in Australia in the highly regarded Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) 2016.

Pro Vice-Chancellor, President and Chief Executive of Curtin University, Malaysia (Curtin Malaysia), Curtin University’s largest international campus and Asian hub here in Malaysia, said Curtin University’s outstanding global rankings, coupled with the professional accreditation of its courses, have contributed greatly to the reputation and strength of the Curtin programmes Curtin Malaysia offers at degree and postgraduate levels.

Students at Curtin Malaysia study courses identical to those at the other Curtin campuses and the degrees they earn are conferred directly by Curtin University. In addition, they enjoy a similar learning experience and support mechanisms and are offered flexibility in completing their degrees at one of the other campuses.

Get To Know Nabeela from Lipstickmyname

Written by Delwin Keasberry Tuesday, 21 February 2017 08:19

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Editor's Note: Since 2010, Projek Brunei has aimed to help re-tell the Brunei story through the stories of the people. Everyone has a story, and we believe that the more we listen to the perspectives of others, the more time we take to understand someone else's point of view, the richer and fuller our own perspectives and opinions become. We have interviewed close to 100 people - students, professionals, NGOs, expats, creatives, etc - and it does not cease to amaze us how, truly, everyone is unique with their own stories.

In this feature, I chat with social media influencer, Nabeela from Lipstickmyname. She talks about what makes her tick, fashion muses, and shares a few highlights from her colourful journey so far. Be sure to check out her website and IG too.

What do you do?
I always find it difficult to answer when asked to describe what I do. The title sort of bounces back and forth between a fashion-blogger and a social media influencer. I'd like to think of Lipstickmyname as a brand that features the style and clothes that are personally curated by me. Currently, I work with a lot of international brands but I hope with this platform, together with our local designers and other local bloggers, we can elevate the fashion/apparel industry in Brunei and connect it with other markets.

Describe yourself in a few words.
I have asked my best friends to give me a word each because you know what they say, best friends know you better. They came up with the following: Strong. Brave. Strong-headed. Playful. Passionate. Perfectionist. Audacious. They forgot to mention that I am also a dreamer and my head's always stuck in the clouds... but thankfully, I married someone who is always willing to pull me back down to earth.

What are you passionate about?
Fashion. Fashion to me is a form of expression, because you choose what you want to wear, what colour, how you style it, etc. Designs have stories behind them and I am always in awe when designers come up with the unimaginable. I think my favourite thing about it is when you can see the runway being inspired by real-life situations. For example, athleisure (a trend where sportswear is meant to be worn casually) was really turned up a notch when Olympics was held in London and now with all the news on U.S. politics, Balenciaga's A/W 2017 fashion show was inspired by U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders!

Music. Music is like a time-machine. It transports you to a specific place in time. A bad break-up, falling in love, silly times with your girl friends... it's all bottled up in a three minute song. It's something I will always appreciate.

Cities. The hustle and bustle of a big city will always excite me. The busy streets, bright lights, high street shopping, sky high buildings, established public transportation systems, the diversity of cultures... I can go on. I studied Urban Economic Development in London a few years back and learnt a lot about cities, how they came about, their sustainability, how they're regulated... it's all very interesting.

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What are your impressions about the fashion scene in Brunei?
I think it has always been there, but it has recently gained momentum and I do hope that our fashion industry can become a really successful one. We have always talked about diversification and I truly believe it's something that could work. Last year, there were a lot of fashion events, mostly in modest fashion and for bridal wear, we see more of our local designers penetrating foreign markets, an increase in stores carrying international labels and a lot of bloggers getting international exposure.

In 2016, you attended a few international fashion events. What were some highlights from those experiences?
i. Meeting all the people! I definitely fangirled over a few celebrities and social media personalities!
ii. Sitting front row at Adila Long's KLFW presentation in a custom Adila Long jumpsuit that she gifted to me. The jumpsuit was made from the fabric that was used during the show.
iii. Sitting front row next to Emma (@emmashazleen) and Faa (@faafirds) at the FashionValet show in Jakarta.

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Who are some of your favorite designers / labels? Why?
Right now I can only pin it down two Malaysian designers. Number one, Adila Long. She is actually an architect, and me being a hardcore fan of structure, it's no surprise really that I love everything she does. And number two, Nurita Harith. Her designs are always impeccable, dainty and just... goddess-like. In terms of high street brands, Zara is my go-to place to shop. It has everything I'm looking for. I never leave that shop empty-handed!

You have an active and likeable Instagram account. Why is social media important for what you do?
Social media enables you to cross borders and market your products without having to actually leave the country. My followers come from Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, the UK, etc and with that I'm able to spread brand awareness across a wider audience.

Any interesting events or projects coming up in 2017?
Ooh! I can't say! Because I don't want to scare my luck away hehe! But I do have a few things lined up for the year and hopefully it will all work out well.

Complete this sentence: In three years...
...hopefully achieve the things I want in life and be proud of what I've accomplished.

If you could travel back in time, what advice would you give the 21 year old you?
I was in my final year in Nottingham when I was 21. So... I'd probably tell myself to drop Time Series Analysis and take an easier module, buy better clothes and travel more.

Finally, any shoutouts?
I think my husband deserves the biggest shoutout for being such an amazing support. I wouldn't be able to do what I love to do, if it weren't for him.

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everyone

Nyneish Books, Arts and Crafts

Written by Delwin Keasberry Monday, 16 April 2012 10:13

Greetings Readers! I visited Nyneish for the first time about a week ago. It has been around for over a year and it is one of those businesses I keep hearing about when I have chats about local bookshops and arts-and-crafts suppliers. It is tucked away in Seri in Bandar Seri Begawan. The best way I can think of to describe its location is that it is behind the Charcoal Restaurant in Seri. Either drive around or walk-through Charcoal. You won't miss it.

I walked in and I immediately thought to myself, "Nice. Very nice." You can tell there was thought put into the interior design and layout. The books are laid out in a very open-concept manner, as if to invite you to pick them up to have a flick through. There is a mini reading-bay in the middle of the store, and the arts-art-craft supplies are located towards the back of the store. There is even a 'gallery' section where you will find a number of local pieces up for display (with some for sale). Dare I say for the brief few moments that I was browsing, it felt as if I was not in Brunei.

It is worth the visit. For more information, check them out on Facebook here.

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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.