Being an entrepreneur is an arduous task, and being a female entrepreneur in a traditionally male-dominated industry is almost too daunting for most – but not for these tenacious chefs who are pushing the boundaries and spicing up our local culinary scene.
This International Women’s Day, we celebrate 6 talented women who have gone against all odds to open their own bakeries, many during the pandemic, and have been thriving since.
1. Higashiguchi Tomoko – Pâtisserie Glacé
A pioneer in bringing Japanese-French desserts to Singapore, Pâtisserie Glacé has been serving up cakes, pies, cookies, tarts, and other delicious baked goods since 2008. It was the ambition of Japanese native Higashiguchi Tomoko to delight Singaporeans with healthy, scrumptious, and reasonably-priced sweet treats that taste just like those you’d get in Japan by importing quality ingredients straight from the source.
The cake shop is best known for its Strawberry Souffle and Strawberry Shortcake, which feature generous servings of fresh strawberries and delicate whipped cream sandwiched between fluffy layers of cake. To ensure more people can enjoy her creations, Chef Tomoko offers vegan-friendly, gluten-free, and egg-free options, such as the Tofu Chiffon that is made with GABA Brown Rice Flour and low-calorie silken tofu. The shop also supports sustainability by eliminating single-use plastic and encouraging customers to bring their own reusable bags and containers.
SAFRA Members and 11B holders enjoy 10% off regular-priced pastries. For more info, go to www.safra.sg/promotions/PatisserieGlace
Outlets at Icon Village, Republic Plaza, and Chai Chee; more info at cakeglace.com
2. Genevieve Lee – Sourbombe
At the helm of one of the most popular doughnut shops in town is MasterChef Singapore’s first season runner-up Genevieve Lee, who was the youngest contestant on the highly competitive cooking show. Determined to pursue her culinary dreams, the talented chef went on to hone her skills at the esteemed Culinary Institute of America, where she managed to clinch an internship at a Michelin-star restaurant in New York, before her plans were derailed by the pandemic. However, it may have been a blessing in disguise as time spent in the kitchen putting together care packages for friends during the Circuit Breaker serendipitously led to the birth of Sourbombe Bakery.
Using a homegrown sourdough starter to make Italian-style bomboloni, Sourbombe’s addictive doughnuts are the perfect balance of fluffy and chewy. They are then stuffed to the brim with Lee’s gourmet flavour creations, such as Lavender Lime Mascarpone, Blueberry & Lemon Thyme, and Basque Burnt Cheesecake, which is an umami burst of molten cream cheese and blue cheese. The bakery also carries a selection of flaky sourdough-based viennoiseries that are buttery and tangy.
9 Penang Road, #02-03, Singapore 238459; more info at www.sourbombebakery.com
3. Maxine Ngooi – Tigerlily Patisserie
Barely in her 30s, Maxine Ngooi already boasts an impressive culinary CV studded with stints at Michelin-star restaurants and top-ranked establishments in Singapore and Australia. What makes her credentials even more impressive is that Maxine has had no formal culinary training. Rather, her love for baking began at home – where her mother would often whip up delicious goodies in the kitchen – and grew stronger when she was exposed to the wide range of fresh produce available in Australia during her university years.
Today, she runs Tigerlily Patisserie, which began as an online business during the pandemic that later moved into a botanical-themed brick-and-mortar shop in Joo Chiat. The menu perfectly showcases Maxine’s knack for combining European techniques with Asian flavours. Her unconventional creations include sweets, such as Mochi Blondie and a Pink Guava and Pear cake, as well as savouries like Monsieur Kim, a playful Korean-inspired twist on the classic croque monsieur. But the highlight is perhaps her signature bake, The Beehive, which is a beautifully constructed zesty citrus dessert.
350 Joo Chiat Road; more info at www.tigerlilypatisserie.com
4. Ariel Tang – The Fat Kid Bakery
It started with a simple act of love: baking brownies for friends and family. Ten years later in 2020, the very entrepreneurial 24-year-old Ariel Tang launched her bakery business. While she is self-taught, Ariel took it upon herself to hone her skills and gain professional experience at The Ritz-Carlton Singapore’s pastry station and French bakery chain Paul. Her culinary knowledge extends beyond the kitchen as the multi-talented communications graduate was also a public relations consultant for the F&B industry before opening her cheekily named bakery.
In addition to what has now become her signature chocolate brownies, the mainstays at The Fat Kid Bakery are filled bomboloni made with Ariel’s own sourdough starter, which she affectionately named Bob. Flavours include fruity creations, such Blueberry Cheesecake and Citrus Bomb, which are made with generous amounts of fresh fruits, and tea-infused bites, such as Earl Grey and Roasted Oolong Milk Tea.
7 Ang Mo Kio Street 66, Floravista #01-07, Singapore 567708; more info at thefatkidbakery.com
5. Germaine Li & Joy Chiam – Patisserie CLÉ
Too many cooks may spoil the broth, but two pastry chefs form the perfect dynamic at Patisserie CLÉ. Germaine Li and Joy Chiam met at the prestigious culinary institute Ferrandi Paris in 2016, where they were both enrolled in the diploma programme in French pastry arts, and became fast friends. When they returned to Singapore, they embarked on separate culinary journeys at three-Michelin-star restaurants, before reuniting to launch their business.
Named after the French word for ‘key’, the patisserie is built on the pair’s aspirations to make French desserts that are equally comforting and indulgent. Their solution is to use the freshest produce to create flavours and textures inspired by both Asian and European palates. Their popular Orh Blanc Tart, for example, takes the classic Mont Blanc and gives it a Teochew-inspired spin by substituting chestnut for yam. Other creative flavours include Cognac Caramel Chocolate Tart and Passion Sesame Tart. Like any respectable French-trained chefs, Germaine and Joy also offer a range of effortlessly crisp viennoiseries, such as croissant, pain au chocolat, and kouign amann.
Outlets at Lucky Heights and Paya Lebar Office Centre; more info at patisserie-cle.com
Want more dining articles like this, and other lifestyle content right in your inbox? Sign up for the eNSman Newsletter – you don’t need to be a SAFRA member to subscribe – and never miss another story!