Everyone with a sweet tooth, take note: Paris-trained chef Jeffery Koo has just opened a new patisserie on Lyndhurst Street, called AnOther Sweet Place. The menu features an array of desserts that range from the classic (the-chocolate filled Signature Noir 65 cake is one example) to the exotic (such as his decadent Matcha Opera creation). Now that Koo has flung open the patisserie's doors, he tells us a little about his career so far and what dessert-loving diners can expect from this new venture...
What sparked your interest in becoming a pastry chef?
I have always had a passion for art such as drawing and creating sculptures. I am a creative person and like coming up with innovative ideas. I thought being a patisserie could incorporate my interests and passions into a career I will enjoy.
Many of the cakes you make are essentially works of art – where do you find your inspiration?
There are two parts to my inspiration – outer and inner. For the outer part, my inspiration mainly comes from the design of shop window displays, color blocks and shapes from the latest fashion trends.
For the inner part, I put emphasis on different combinations of tastes and flavors, such as strawberry with lemon, or vanilla with honey comb. I love experimenting with sweetness and bitterness.
What’s the most memorable cake you’ve made?
One of the most memorable cakes I have made has to be Matcha Opera. It is a classic pastry but at the same time it is infused with exotic Asian flavors. When I was trying to make the cake, I spent a lot of time on experimenting with different shades of green, so that different textures and layers could be produced.
The base of the cake consists of two layers of Matcha cakes, with the middle layer being black from the dark chocolate ganache. That is an example of color matching and at the same time infusing different flavors and tastes.
What was it like training with Pierre Gagnaire to refine your skills as a pastry chef?
When I was in Paris and working with Pierre, we had to create and produce all the desserts and pastries of the restaurant. During this process of creation, I have learnt that Pierre is a fan of adopting various ingredients and experimenting with different mixes and matches to create fusion cuisine. For example, he would use asparagus with chocolate, surprisingly a combination which turned out to taste heavenly.
Besides the flavors and colors, Pierre also loved to focus on very strong color contrasts. He keeps the pastries simple but at the same time included a strong highlight. I learnt many skills from Pierre, he has inspired me a lot.
Can you tell us a little bit about your new patisserie? What can guests expect to find there, ambience and food-wise?
Being the Consulting Culinary Creator of AnOther Sweet Place, I hope the guests can taste various types of cakes with different flavors and textures. AnOther Sweet Place is a patisserie offering a bit of sweetness to life. In the desserts, I used a wide range of ingredients from around the world in the desserts to not only create a delightful taste, but also an attractive appearance. I hope this will give our guests an unforgettable dessert experience.
Our Signature Noir 65 is an homage to chocolate and its purest expressions. Coated by a luscious layer of 65% chocolate glazing is a decadent double layer chocolate cake - top layer featuring an intensely smoky mousse layer and the bottom layer featuring an ultra-rich chocolate cake. Signature Noir 65 embraces the bittersweet side of chocolate and should not to be missed by true chocolate lovers!
What has been your most career-defining moment to date?
The most career-defining moment dates back 10 years ago when I decided to leave Mandarin Oriental. I had worked at the hotel for around 15 years and it was a decisive moment when I chose to leave the company and start the journey developing my own career. It is still an unforgettable and memorable moment in my life.
Finally, what's the most indulgent cake or pastry you’ve eaten? Who made it?
The most indulgent cake that I have ever eaten was the birthday cake made by my two little kids. It was actually just a simple cream cake and they decorated it with a lot of different fruits on top. Although it was simple, I was more than satisfied and couldn’t stop eating it!