Tell us a little about your journey to becoming a pastry chef.
In 2005, I enrolled on a patisserie course at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, as it was a rocky time in my modelling career. When I came back to Hong Kong, there was a reality show on TVB, where starlets and models were invited to cook—almost like Iron Chef. I went on and won, and it launched my TV career. A few years later, I was invited to co-host a show with China’s biggest food critic, Chua Lam. He encouraged me to explore cooking because the public now trusted my palate. I went straight back to Le Cordon Bleu to take a baking course and then applied for a pastry internship at Caprice at the Four Seasons Hotel in Central. I then worked at La Duree in Paris in their laboratory and finally launched my [now closed] patisserie Petite Amanda in Hong Kong.
Was this always your dream?
It was always a dream of mine to have my own patisserie. As a child, my father had a sweet tooth, but my mother couldn’t really bake, so I grew up making pastries.
What makes Flakes and Layers unique?
I want to share the joy and love I have for pastries as doughnuts always put a smile on people’s faces. So I created a gourmet, one-hand item. I call them “ooonuts”: a hybrid of a doughnut and a millefeuille. Instead of using puff pastry like a millefeuille, I use laminated croissant dough and the cream filling of the millefeuille. There aren’t many one-hand items out there, so I was keen to make a glammed-up version of a doughnut. I use the best ingredients too: vanilla beans from Tahiti, single-origin cacao from Venezuela and instead of a sugar glaze, I use a pure chocolate glaze. [With toppings including] beautiful pearl sugars from France and sprinkles with chocolate metallic colouring, it’s no ordinary doughnut.
What were some of the challenges involved in setting up Flakes & Layers amid Covid-19?
The challenge wasn’t Covid-19. Over the last five years, the universe has shaken up my whole world. My marriage fell apart, I closed Petite Amanda, my father got really ill—it was one thing after another and I was in a dark place in my life. I devoted 2019 to building up my confidence again. It started with mastering certain sports, then I re-entered TV and got myself back into work. With Covid-19, there wasn’t much TV or modelling work coming in, so I thought this was the best time to start a passion project.