3 Hong Kong Pastry Chefs on Female Solidarity and the Evolution of the Industry

In celebration of International Women’s Day, we chat with three female pastry chefs from some of Hong Kong’s most popular restaurants about their career, being a woman in the industry and female solidarity.

Creations by pastry chef Graff Kwok of Date by TATE

In Conversation with Three Female Pastry Chefs

Graff Kwok, Pastry Chef at Date by TATE

How did you become a pastry chef? Has it always been a dream of yours to become one?

I decided to become a pastry chef after graduating university and majoring in product and furniture design. I wanted combine my skills in design with patisserie to produce pastries that are uniquely mine. I have always loved making desserts since I was little. So it has been a dream come true to have my passion as my job.

What are the proudest moments in your career?

I was fortunate to be able to join The UK Pastry Team for the Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie in 2018-19. Being able to train with the country’s best pastry chefs has improved my skills tremendously. There were ups and downs but we managed to overcome the challenges. We achieved fifth place on the world stage and it was one of the proudest moments in my career.

Have you experienced female solidarity in the industry?

All of the head chefs I have worked with, are women. One thing they all have in common is being outspoken and really skilful. They have also taught me what it means to be a female chef in a male-dominated kitchen. We have to put in extra effort to show we are capable and excel at what we do.

There’s an evident dichotomy in the culinary world: women still tend to take care of cooking by default in most households; however, most celebrated chefs and pastry chefs around the world are still men. Is this changing? what do you think of this?

I think it is changing, but slowly. There are more and more female chefs that are getting the attention they deserve. It is a great thing because it means the world is moving forward. Gender stereotyping is so ingrained in our history that it is hard to change people’s mindsets.

Can you give and advice to all the little girls who want to become chefs this International Women’s Day?

Being a pastry chef is not easy, but it’s definitely rewarding. You have to be passionate to achieve great things. It is a labour-intensive job so you have to be mentally and physically prepared for it. That said, you won’t be alone as you will have teammates working alongside you and personally I think it is the best feeling when everyone has the same goal.

Teigan Morrison, Pastry Chef at Roganic Hong Kong

How did you become a pastry chef? Has it always been a dream of yours to become one?

I began working in restaurants in Singapore whilst still at school, and it was when my executive chef helped me transition into the kitchen. I then moved to London to get a diploma in Patisserie and Culinary Management, to help get a background base knowledge. From there I went straight into working on pastry at Marcus at The Berkeley. I’ve known I wanted to be a chef since I can remember; being attracted by the details and intricacy that comes with pastry as well as chance of travelling abroad and the constant challenges, seemed very exciting.

What are some the proudest moments in your career?

I’m still just beginning my journey, but my proudest moment to date would be a recent collaboration with Mandy Siu at Aulis. We curated a special dessert-only tasting menu, focusing on local produce and flavours from the region.

Have you experienced female solidarity in the industry?

Because the industry is generally male-dominated, there’s always an undergoing camaraderie within females that work in the kitchen, especially when it comes to understanding and compassion. However, I have always worked in places where the entire team has mutual respect.

There’s an evident dichotomy in the culinary world: women still tend to take care of cooking in most households; however, most celebrated chefs around the world are men. Is this changing?

The amount of females chefs present in professional kitchens is drastically growing as I believe the modern kitchen has become a lot more diverse than it was in the past, which can only be a positive thing. Running a restaurant or any business within the hospitality industry while being in the media spotlight is very demanding and takes total commitment, which can still be difficult for women who want a family.

Can you give and advice to all the little girls who want to become chefs this International Women’s Day?

Being a chef is always physically demanding for long hours and this can definitely come as a challenge, however there’s nothing quite like the reward of seeing day to day improvement within your own abilities in the craft. The opportunity to be creative and hands on construct an experience that guests will hopefully remember for a lifetime, is definitely something to fully emerge yourself into.

Eane Wong, Pastry Chef at Margo

How did you become a pastry chef? Has it always been a dream of yours to become one?

I’ve always loved pastries. It wasn’t like a “I am determined to be a pastry chef when I was a kid” kind of story. I was banned to enter the kitchen when I was young, and I studied in business as in university as it was expected by my parents.

After graduating, I finally made up my mind to explore more in the pastry world, which I was very fascinated by in high school. As I started late in the industry, I put a lot of effort while I was in bakery school, I also worked as part time at pastry shop when I was younger, just to make my dream comes true.

What are some the proudest moments in your career?

Whenever people put up a big smile after they have had my pastries or desserts, I feel proud and satisfied.

Have you experienced female solidarity in the industry?

I recently collaborated with Hilda Chan for an ice cream sandwich named Amber. Sharing similar thoughts from the perspective of a woman, was an amazing and empowering experience as we shared so much in the process.

There’s an evident dichotomy in the culinary world: women still tend to take care of cooking in most households; however, most celebrated chefs and pastry chefs around the world are men. Is this changing?

In the past, the culinary industry used to be dominated by men. One of the reasons has always been the stereotype that kitchens were tough places to work. However, things have changed, thanks to the internet and to the fact that more women are allowed a willing to follower the passion. I think that being a women also helps a lot in terms of the attention to details and our natural inclination to look for beauty and finesse.

Can you give and advice to all the little girls who want to become chefs this International Women’s Day?

Find out what you love and be passionate about it. Nothing is easy. To be a pastry chef, you will train a lot, which is hard but can be fun when you love it.

For more stories about female empowerment, gender equality and what needs to be done this International Women’s Day and beyond, take a look at the Prestige Women of Power project

Source: Prestige Online

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