At one point in my life this desire was held so high. I was a senior in college, and I was juggling with my thesis paper, an obsession with baking, and a desire to enroll myself in a pastry school, with which I hoped to make a career out of. Well, anything that has to do with food, I’d be in!
Two years had passed, that desire of mine, however, has faded. Thank goodness, though the obsession is no longer growing, my love of baking is here to stay — and so is my curiosity for the Classroom — that spacious room in which I sink my hands in flour, butter, sugar, eggs, cream and much more!
Couple weekends ago, I found myself bedazzled by the stunning sugar sculptures, fondant figurines, and fondant-covered tiered cakes at the Academy of Pastry Arts Malaysia (APAM). As I toured around the pastry school — one of the first of its kind in Malaysia — I realized quality education isn’t solely about state-of-the-art facilities and all-encompassing curricula — it’s also about connection. The connection tutors form with their students.
With years of experience under his sleeves, including a stint at Fauchon and the National Hospitality Institute of Oman, chef Guillaume Lejuene now heads APAM as the director of pastry arts. He highlighted that, at APAM, the number of students per class is kept between 12 and 15, which makes the group neither too big nor too small to handle. Even with 15, he said an additional tutor may be called upon and the class may be divided into two smaller groups.
As an almost-self-taught home baker (my first days of culinary training came from my American family friends), I’d say a one-to-one approach is crucial to the success of any budding bakers, and APAM has done remarkably well in that sense. I stood on one side, quietly observed, and I saw teamwork. I felt rapport that bound the students and tutors together.
With rapport and teamwork, and, of course, the talents and passion, toothsome works of art such as these can only be produced, with precision and efficiency.
Now that’s a feast to the eye — and the tummy! (Yum. Some wound up in my tummy, and some in the freezer.)
APAM offers a wide array of pastry courses: bakery and artisan breads; European breakfast pastries; ice cream, gelato, sorbet, and frozen desserts; chocolate pralines and candies; art of plating dessert. Well, all these are just to name a few!
What’s also worthy of a mention is, for the first time ever, APAM will be conducting courses on the art of cake making and designing (think celebration and designer cakes) as well as part-time courses on pastries (think petits fours and chocolate). Both are, I think, especially suited to busy working people who have only weekends to spare. (Yes, these classes run on weekends only.) You can check out APAM’s Web site for more information that you may find useful.
If you’ve been tinkering with the idea of, say, picking up baking knowledge and skills just for fun, or, say, pursuing a formal education and training in baking (just like the Pei-Lin before), APAM can perhaps jump-start your plans.
Heed my words though, especially when you are considering getting into the pastry line for a career. In our (Asian) society, this isn’t an easy path to take, so I urge you to think twice — or thrice(!) — before arriving at a decision, which would lead to either a hit or a miss.
|Image courtesy of Veronica of Quay Po Cooks.|
Or maybe it’s a gamble I couldn’t put up with, and so I chicken out. But hey, I love what I’m doing, and I shall not grumble much. I’m thankful to APAM and Jade, the correspondent with whom I’ve been liaising, for giving me the opportunity to experience the Classroom.
And in the end, no matter what, if these — baking, pastries, and long hours of work in the kitchen — are what you are after and passionate about, you have the indisputable right to pursue your dreams.
After all, the world is your oyster.