Text by: Claudia Sondakh
I’m sure most of you sweet tooths can agree with me that dessert is such an important ending to a meal that it can either leave you with a mediocre taste or a great experience. To this day, I can still remember the phenomenal dessert I had at L’arpege. It was a honey soufflé with a dollop of dark chocolate. It was such a simple dish, but the level of execution in balancing the flavours and textures left me in awe. The degustation meal itself was amazing, but dessert really sealed the deal for me.
Our Plentyfull experience would not be complete without our range of cakes and plated desserts lovingly crafted by our pastry team, headed by Chef Mabel. It takes a certain kind of person to work in pastry. You have to be precise, detailed, disciplined and patient. No guess work here. Maybe that explains why she even contemplated joining the army after graduating from school. Well, we are super glad she decided to be a drill sergeant in the kitchen instead so that we can benefit from her sweet creations
1. Who is Mabel?
Colleagues say I’m noisy. My sister says I’m weird. I guess I’m just a girl who likes to have fun, enjoys doing pastry and loves those who love me.
2. How did you get into pastry? What was your inspirational moment to know that pastry was something you wanted to do?
I still remember during my secondary school days that the only two things I baked on a constant basis was cheesecake and Betty Crocker’s fudge brownies. Those who have eaten these goodies loved them as much as I did. Like most graduates, I was still unsure of what I wanted to pursue in life. That was when my friend threw me the idea of going to SHATEC “since I loved to bake brownies”.
3. Who is your mentor and why?
When I first stepped into this industry as a trainee, I was fortunate to work in a medium paced and healthy environment; hours were not too long and had many opportunities to learn. This was where I was blessed to meet my first pastry chef, Chef Mimi. She knew how to guide and teach me without spoon-feeding. Even till today, whenever I go to her with questions, she never fails to be there for me!
Another person I’d like to acknowledge is my current chef, Chef Victor. He is someone who without a doubt has brought me this far. Just by working closely with him for the past year and a half, I have picked up so many important skills such as management, event planning, and how to be a supportive figure to the rest of the team. I really take my hat off him!
4. What about pastry brings you joy?
Simple. Just seeing the smile of satisfied customers.
5. What is your dream?
It would be nice to open my own pastry shop but I feel it won’t be in Singapore as the competition here is just too high. So, for the next 30 years, as long as I can still bake cakes for people who appreciate them, I’m a happy girl.
6. What does restoration mean to you?
By definition, restoration means to re-establish something to its former condition. My take on it is that with the right company (and food), customers would leave with not just a full tummy, but with their hearts and souls full as they reconnect with each other while enjoying the food.
7. Tell us 5 things we don’t know abut you
1) I used to dance ballet and I do miss it a lot!
2) I have always loved foot drill since primary school and have suggested to my dad that I want to join the army after secondary school. Hahahaha! Obviously that did not happen.
3) I don’t like to eat my own cooking or baking. Tasting is fine.
4) I’m left with not much wisdom. HAHAHAAH! Kidding. I recently went to pluck my third wisdom tooth and that was the worst extraction thus far.
5) I love Jesus just because He loves me first!
8. If you weren’t doing pastry, you would….?
I’ve only had this thought in recent years, but maybe I would be a childcare teacher, just like my sister! I’m sure it will be tiring but kids are always fun to be around.
9. You do amazing dessert tables and customized cakes! Tell us more abut how you get inspired and the feeling you get when it all comes together. What was your favorite theme and why?
I’ve always had interest in customized cakes but never undergone proper training for it. My experience was from doing cakes requested by friends and from there learning the dos and don’ts in the process. So far, Plentyfull is where I’ve done the most customized cakes. Putting the desserts on the table together for each theme will always be a team effort. I’m thankful for my pastry team of three for always backing me up. It’s definitely satisfying to know that the guests appreciate all your hard work. I don’t have a favorite theme as I treat each theme as ways for me to explore possibilities for the client and myself.
10. What are the biggest challenge and most rewarding part of your job?
I would say learning to be on the management level is not easy at all. What’s rewarding would definitely be seeing the fruit of your labour, for example, products turning out the way you want them to.