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16 Mar 2014

Taking the path of a chef - 10 factors you need to consider before accepting the job as a chef

Alumni of At-Sunrice Global Chef Academy (Diploma in Pastry and Bakery Arts)
Date entered     : 24th Sep 2012
Date graduated :   7th Mar 2014

My days of being a trainee has ended and my job as a full time chef has commenced. This blog would be my space to blog about my experiences and journey to be a chef since I have decided to stray away from my design diploma and pick this challenging career after attaining my 2nd diploma.

Being a trainee for a year at any apprenticeship site has its peaks as trainees are just considered as a helping hand (and we hardly get screwed). I was allocated to this not-my-choice company by the school's administration and the feeling definitely, seriously sucks big time. I was constantly relocated to different stations where I get to learn the basics of production line and also where manpower is required. Since the company focused on mass production, I got used to producing huge quantity instead of quality food. Worst still, the travelling distance from my house to my workplace can add up to one and a half hours long. How I dreaded stoning in the Mrt and bus, reading from my bought-for-that-purpose Ipad mini and yawning from time to time.  

Just merely a year of apprenticeship, I felt that my story could go on and on. Dwelling about the past would be useless as right now, I should be focusing on the present.

About 2 months before my graduation, I have already started researching and hunting for my ideal job as a chef. Come to think of it, 2 months before is way too early and I think about 2 weeks before would be great.
As I mentioned, there are many factors which contributes to the meaning of ideal job and these are some of the common factors that you could refer to. (Provided that you also want to be a chef.)

10 factors you need to consider before accepting the job as a chef 

1. Cuisine of Specialty

Pastry, Bakery, Western, Chinese, Japanese, or even more exotic cuisines such as Mediterranean are different and special in their own ways. They could differ in preparation methods and the ingredients used. I am not the right person to describe in details since I am not specialized in anyone of them yet. The best if you could continue that particular cuisine and master it.

2. Location

I consider this quite an important factor since I have to travel to work 5 or 6 days a week in future. One worst case scenario would be travelling from my house to my apprenticeship site which required me to change from red line to circle line, to green line and taking a bus again to reach my destination. Another reason is that if you are late for work, you actually pay lesser for your cab fares due to the shorter journey. With shorter distance, you would not feel that demoralizing going to work and enduring the overcrowding transport system.

3. Pay

Money makes the world go round. For fresh graduates like me, with or without culinary experience or certificates, $1500 is already considered decent to start with. Some places' salary could be as low as $1200 and after deducting your CPF, you get peanuts (<$1000). Unless you want to consider migrating to neighboring countries with exchange rates twice of Singapore's currency. For some places, you do get tips as extra pocket money!

4. Working hours / Shifts

It is either a straight shift, split shift or even a midnight shift. (You get roughly about $200 more from a split/midnight shift.) Even if yours is a straight shift, it could be morning this week and afternoon the following week. There could also be plenty of OT (overtime pay) when it gets busy during festive seasons or during the holidays period.

5. Brand

The same reasons why people go for Gucci or Louis Vuitton, I also picked a quite-new 4 stars hotel to work in. I felt that it is more of a satisfaction issue if the name of the establishment is of a certain popularity and class. Sounds better for resume purpose too.

6. Company Benefits

Different companies may have slightly different benefits. From what I have heard, hotels normally have more perks than restaurants. Up to you to find out.

7. Laundry Services

For lazy people like me, I would prefer laundry services to be provided. At least there is one less thing to fret about - ironing my own clothes.

8. Excitement Factor

This sounds rather random. It could be helping out with some banquet, the restaurant importing some rare seasonal products from other countries or even an ultra hot lady keeps coming into the restaurant just to see you. LOL  

9. Learning Opportunities

A wide array of options from a menu that changes from time to time would mean more learning opportunities. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

10. Advancement Opportunities

I definitely would want to advance in my career and not stay stagnant. The chance to exhibit your skill is important, to prove your worth and not stay within 4 walls peeling potato for years. Promotion also means more responsibilities too.

Anyway, these points are just my personal opinion. Feel free to list anything I happened to miss out.
I can't guarantee I am able to stay in this industry throughout my career. Who knows? ...

2 Mar 2014

Finalized Bak Kwa

Quite an obvious delayed post on Bak Kwa since Chinese New Year had passed more than a month ago.
Anyway, this was the finalised version which tasted as good as the actual commercialised ones out there!
Tested and many tasted!! (For method 2b below) Satisfied!

I guessed this was the final form... 

My reference for different types of meat for Bak Kwa trial can be found here.
The second post on the more complicated version using dehydrator and smoking of Bak Kwa can be found

The finalised version (the picture above):


300g Minced Pork
1 tbs Thai Fish Sauce
1 tbs Light Soy Sauce
1 tsp Sesame Oil
120g Caster Sugar
1 drop of red food colouring


1) Marinated overnight (or a few hours, up to you)

2a)  Spread on tray, placed into the oven for 10 mins at 100 degrees. Flip over and place back into the over
       for another 10 minutes till a bit charred.

(Better Results)
2b)  After spreading on tray (your desired thickness), dehydrate using your dehydrator for 3 hours, medium
       heat about 55 degrees. (Want to dehydrate longer to remove more moisture also can.) After that, place
       it over a bamboo tray (for better results) and cook/smoke over charcoal, which is about 200 degrees 
       for up to an hour. Remember to oil your bamboo to prevent sticking. Grill on pan a while before serving.