Angela Lai loved baking as a child, but when it came to career choices, she nevertheless initially chose to enter the corporate world. However, it wasn’t long before she decided to pursue pastry seriously, enrolling at Singapore’s At-Sunrice GlobalChef Academy in 2008, where she completed a diploma in pastry and baking arts. From there, she worked in various establishments in Singapore, including The Fullerton Hotel and the now-defunct Guy Savoy at Marina Bay Sands. In 2015, she was given the opportunity to move to Taiwan to join Taiwanese chef Kai Ho, whom she had met at Guy Savoy, at his restaurant Taïrroir.
As a Singaporean in Taiwan, Lai discovered there was a lot to love about the country, not least that it has four distinct seasons and a wealth of fine local produce that she could incorporate into her creations. The renown of her delicately crafted and beautifully plated desserts and pastries soon spread, and in 2021 Lai was named Asia’s Best Pastry Chef by Asia’s 50 Best. While the chef clearly enjoys her work in Taiwan, where many of her desserts take inspiration from classic local snacks and traditional sweet treats, there’s plenty that she yearns for from home.
What do you miss most on the food/drink front when you are away from Singapore or haven’t been back for a while?
Angela Lai (AL) My cousins gave me the nickname “pie tee monster”, so definitely a good kueh pie tee or popiah! Either of those is the first dish I love to eat when I return, and only when made by my mother or godmother. They are best served with my aunt’s special homemade chilli sauce. And the best part of all this is spending quality time together.
Do you have a favourite restaurant in Singapore––for fine dining/special occasions and for more casual experiences?
AL My favourite restaurant in Singapore for fine dining would definitely be Odette. I love what chef Julien brings to the table as well as the amazing hospitality and beautiful atmosphere. For casual experiences I like Le Bistrot du Sommelier. [Chef-owner] Brandon Foo, who is a very good friend of mine, does classic French food. Their duck rillette and chicken liver pate is a must-have every time I visit.