Dessert is a treat to myself
Recalling the time before I started making desserts, I remember when Iwas in junior high school, I was no different from regular middle school students nowadays. I was faced with considerable pressure from endless examinations. Whether I liked studying or not, students in Taiwan inevitably have to go through this stage. At that time, buying myself a cake after exams gave me such joy, and that was how I embarked on my dessert journey.
Making dessert is the journey I was determined to embark on
My decision to start learning about desserts was quite revolutionary back then. At first, I was admitted to Changhua Industrial Vocational High School as my family anticipated. Soon after a year of study, I came to realize that science is not my passion. In fact, I was determined that I wanted to pursue a culinary career. Thus, I secretly dropped out after I finished my freshman year in high school and transferred to study in the department of food and beverage instead.
I started to learn about Chinese cooking, western cooking and dessert making as I entered the department of food and beverage in high school. At that time, dessert was not a stand-alone subject but a big category of items ranging from the Taiwanese pineapple cake, yolk pastry, mug bean pastry, to the western chiffon cake and bread. That said, it was extremely different from the definition of dessert we are familiar with nowadays, so I would say my past learning experience in school was more of a “general study”.
After I graduated from high school, I was successfully admitted to Kaohsiung University of Hospitality and Tourism. My class was a big gathering of descendants of well known culinary families coming from all over Taiwan. Many of my classmates have had experiences helping out at their family businesses like bread shops and pastry shops. Therefore, a lot of them have engaged in Chinese and western culinary competitions since young. There was even this classmate of mine who began to assist Wu Bao Chun in our sophomore year. As you may have already felt the momentum, my college life was exhilarating as I was surrounded by so many talented peers. I would start up groups of same interests, purchase Japanese magazine Café Sweets and magazines published by the French Cake Association and discuss about recipe and techniques with my classmates. Additionally, I was very obsessed with the Japanese desserts in a Japanese drama, “Antique Bakery”. The making and overall presentation of the desserts gave me such warmth. These are the little things that started accumulating back then.
Dessert-making is like a fierce battle
I once worked at a renowned hotel in Taipei where the dessert department I belonged to was segmented into two factions, the European/American faction and the Japanese faction. The European/American style pâtissiers are like artists who improvise at will. To them, dessert-making requires no recipe, no scale, no ratio. Ingredients are to be used spontaneously like a cooking-mom adds salt to her dishes confidently. Improvised creations taste better. Whereas, Japanese style pâtissiers regard tidiness of the environment and equipments highly. Not to mention the high standard of precision in scales. Having worked under pâtissiers of both styles, I learned to establish originality in dessert recipes from the European/American faction and the professional spirit from the Japanese faction.
Dessert shows me the way home
2013 was the year I returned back home from my dessert career in Japan. I was constantly caught in a dilemma between staying at the Japanese dessert shop and entering the dessert industry in Taipei. One thoughtobsessed me particularly, “Do I want to go back to the quiet, hardly-ever- changing Changhua after having met so many people in Japan who choseto leave their hometown?”
I kept myself busy during the time I was still pondering over my options. At that time, the first floor of my grandpa’s house was not used, and I happen to have a friend who wanted to do some designing projects for practice. Hence, I started baking cakes in a small house in Changhua Minquan Market and settled down in Changhua. During that two years, I operated my studio privately and only took customized orders. A lot of my creative cake ideas derived and accumulated back then. I used to make whatever I saw on dessert books without concerning anything.
Dessert upgraded me
Transforming from the private studio in Minquan Market into the store in the alley of Zhongzhen Road, the biggest different probably is the kitchen size. The two of us used to have to squeezed in the tiny kitchen as opposed to now, our kitchen allows four people to work simultaneously. Another thing is that the store now opens regularly to allow customers to come in and take their time to choose their desirable desserts. These changes also lead to the upgrade of my position. I used to enjoy making whatever I like depending on my preference and mood, but now I have my own staffs and a different business model. I need to increase the number of desserts we make and train my staffs. Basically I myself has become more than a pastry chef but also a businessman, manager and trainer.
Dessert makes me focus on doing one thing
Most dessert stores in Japan are only for take-out. It is common to buy and share desserts with family members and friends, and the location of dessert stores is segmented based on areas. A store offers its services to a demographic in a certain area. Each store is 10 to 15 minutes away from one another. I hope to gradually incorporate this mentality into Chun Dessert Studio, endeavoring to dessert-making, using local ingredients, creating a distinctive taste of Changhua and creating desserts that are favored by people in Changhua.
彰化市中正路二段461巷7號 No. 7, Lane 461, Section 2, Zhongzheng Rd., Changhua City 500, Taiwan
04 728 8377 FB: 淳 手作甜點工作室