Baking his way to sweet victory

Intricate ideas: Lim (right) describing his confections to Wong (left) and show supervisor chef Tai Chien Lin.

JOHOR BARU: A Johor pastry chef has beaten more than 80 of his peers to emerge as the winner of a televised baking competition in Singapore.

Reflecting on his victory in season two of Creme De La Creme, Lim Yong Lu, 35, said he was nervous throughout the competition as the other contenders are seasoned and knowledgeable in cakes and desserts.

“Although I have 14 years of pastry-making experience under my belt, it was still nerve-racking to bake in front of the camera and the show’s celebrity hosts and judges.

“Besides managing my time according to the three hours set for each challenge, I also had to be mindful of my body language and what I say as the whole thing was recorded,” Lim said in an interview.

Lim, whose specialty is French desserts, won S$10,000 (RM35,000) and a trophy in the grand finale, which aired recently.

His journey began with some 80 contestants, whittled down to the final eight featured over eight episodes of the show hosted by Singapore celebrities Fann Wong, Jeanette Aw and Dennis Chew.

Recounting a memorable moment in the early stages, Lim thought he was facing elimination when he only had five minutes left to complete his dessert.“I had to think fast and cut out a few steps to save time while maintaining the taste and structure of the dessert.

“Thankfully, I managed to pull through.

“It was my first time participating in such a competition and I am glad that I could make my family proud by taking home the top prize,” Lim said, adding that his colleagues gave him a lot of support and encouragement.

In the grand finale, the contestants were tasked with creating desserts that represented a country.

“I made tiramisu moulded into the shape of a coffee bean to represent Italy and a choux pastry called hazelnut religieuse to represent France.

“I think the techniques I used were among the factors that won the judges’ hearts,” he said.

On the dish he was most proud of creating, Lim said it was a plated dessert made with Szechuan pepper, chocolate and Williams pear, in line with the episode’s spices theme.

Lim’s passion for pastry-making began at a young age, despite his family’s expectations for him to pursue a career in engineering.

“Being a filial son, I enrolled in an engineering course at Southern University College but I only lasted a year before deciding to switch gears and pursue pastry-making in Taiwan for two years,” he said.

Upon returning to Johor, he set off again to work in Singapore at a food production factory and gradually moved to five-star hotels and restaurants.

After wrapping up the competition in the island republic, Lim and his wife decided to move back to Johor Baru and raise their family here.

“We opened our cafe in November last year, serving French pastries with a Japanese twist,” said Lim, who owns a dessert cafe in Taman Impian Emas here.

“Some of the desserts I created for the competition were modified slightly and are served in the cafe, such as the pistachio and apricot cake, osmanthus and yuzu cake, and hazelnut puff as a way of promoting French desserts, which emphasise and explores different textures in one bite,” he said.

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Dessert , Pastry , Chef , Singapore , Competition , Champion , Johor


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