Chef Ken, Baker at Croisserie

Lim Ken Jay, Chief Baker, Croisserie Artisan Bakery

What do you do and how did you get into the industry?

I’m the Chief Baker at Croisserie Artisan Bakery.

When I was younger, a Hong Kong series I watched inspired me to become a chef. So it was really by chance that during my study break when I was about 16 years old that I started to work at a bakery in KL city. What was supposed to be just a one-month part-time job then turned into my career. And I have been a baker for the past ten years!

When did you know you wanted to be a baker?

I wasn’t someone who love studying, I mean, I never thought I was a smart student. But since working as a baker, I realised for the first time in my life I actually started to visit bookstores and libraries to look for baking books. There is a lot science behind baking and I was really curious to find out more. I think that was when I knew my passion was in baking.

What’s the best/worst part of your job?

The best part of being a baker is that although you make the same breads every day, the end results of each and every one of the breads can be different. There is always room to improve, modify and better the products. And when you find people loving your products, that’s probably the best feeling of all!

It’s not really the worst, but like chefs, we also have long working hours. But like I said, the satisfaction you get when people love and compliment your products sort of makes it all worth it.

What’s your favourite item at Croisserie Artisan Bakery? Why?

Our Signature French Croissant.

Ten years ago when I first started baking, I didn’t understand why people could be so crazy over such a plain, empty pastry. Then during a trip to Taiwan, I stumbled upon the croissant made by master baker Tomohiro Nogami and it opened my eyes so much. It inspired me to make a perfect croissant which has all the necessary elements – the colours, the layers, the smell of the butter, etc, plus most importantly, the skills, time and heart to make one. What you find in our bakery now is the baby of my committed effort throughout the years to make these perfect croissants.

What’s one of the wildest/ craziest things experienced behind the scenes?

When we were in the process of opening Croisserie Artisan Bakery, I took on the challenge to not only work on new products, but also to brush up some existing products – something like from hawker food quality to fine-dining quality. It was one of the craziest times I had in the kitchen working and getting excited about my new products. Then my wildest dream came true, my idol, master baker Tomohiro Nogami came to visit and tried my products… Wow, that was one of the best moments of my life, so far!

The perfect day off would be…

I know this doesn’t sound so much like a day off, but if I have the time, I would really love to go around town to visit and try products from bakeries that are the talk of the town!

A day in the life of a baker is…

Very busy yet you cannot let anything in the kitchen slip. Every single detail is important to produce top quality bakery products.

What do you do for fun?

I like to travel to different places, be it locally or overseas, to pick up some experience, explore bakery-related and non-bakery-related adventures.

What’s something you’d like guests to know about Croisserie Artisan Bakery?

That our products are priced because of high quality ingredients, not the location of the bakery.

The ingredients we use are those that I’ve tried and tested over the past 10 years – only the top ones are picked to make sure we only produce the best quality products. And if I find better ones we will change to those ingredients straight away.

Most of our products need not only very skilful hands, but also a lot of heart and patience. For instant, we ferment our own yeast and that the entire process of baking is complicated and takes a long time to finish.

What’s your view on the KL bakery scene?

Personally, I feel bakeries in Malaysia generally pay more attention to the concept and packaging instead of the quality of their products. Owners are willing to invest more in the outlook of their bakeries than the ingredients used in making their products. Besides, we need to see more independent bakeries in which the bakers are really qualified rather than having bakers going up the ladder too fast because of them moving around big and commercialised bakeries.

What’s in store for you in the upcoming months?

After a busy Christmas month of December, where it’s the best time to showcase our strength in Christmas goodies, next year I will be excited to work on new products, especially on the savoury side.

I wish to also visit countries like Japan and start competing in international competitions to level up the maturity of my skills and to bring the knowledge back to Croisserie Artisan Bakery.

Check out some of Lim Ken Jay’s delicious baked goods here.

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