BEAU part 1

Hi long time friends.

It's been a while since I posted on this blog, thought I'd catch you up on what I've been up to since the last time we chatted, and about why I decided to open my own bakery!

pic by thefoodiemag.com

Me in the BEAU kitchen

Ian Chin @bakingchin
Since my return to Jakarta in late 2013, I'd been busy planning and working on opening a bakery / patisserie of my own. The collection of ideas, inspirations and wishes from my travels became what is now succinctly called "BEAU". After months of trial and error with Ian Chin - a friend from Le Cordon Bleu, and later joined by Christina Min, a rogue pastry chef from Hawaii, we came up with a repertoire for the bakery.

Christina Min @minychefy
These days I wear many hats, I wear a chef’s hat to create new cakes and products, am an entrepreneur to ensure the smooth running, creative development and expansion of my business. I am easily bored and love it when I am challenged. People say I am a perfectionist, but I don’t think this is the case, because I am a big believer in letting things happen. My father always says that business is an art; I just have a very strong idea of how our brand needs to be represented through our products and services.

Overseas, being a baker and pastry chef is seen as a respected occupation that feeds, serves and entertains society. People take huge ownership and pride in their work; their individuality is expressed through their products and style. However, when I came back to Indonesia, I saw a lot of the same products repackaged and resold in establishments. My experiences abroad encourages me to think of pastries and breads as “creations”, and that respect to the technique, fundamentals and applying originality is important, like any other creative field.  This was one of the reasons why I wanted to open my own bakery in Indonesia.

Added to this, growing up on my mother’s cooking, I feel like I have an Indonesian palate. I have a good grasp on what Indonesians like to eat, and which flavor profiles that evoke a feeling of comfort and nostalgia. I like to give a local twist on our products by using local ingredients wherever possible. Like music, I believe that food is a universal language. At an international stage, it is about making sure our products have a strong message, impactful and meaningful. Really owning our heritage and being proud of our national identity can achieve this.

One of the chefs I respect very much is Dominique Ansel. I respect Ansel’s work because it is an amalgamation of both of his worlds – being a French chef in New York. He marries his sensibilities as a Frenchman as well as influences living in New York and creates things that are reflections of his own experiences. He is able to funnel his many years of experience and expertise into something that is ingenious and so simple! Legendary jazz bassist Charles Mingus once said that “Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity." I truly believe Ansel’s creativity was in the way he was able to make something that is so complicated into something that appears to be so simple and “no-brainer”. This is what we try to achieve with our own products at BEAU.

Our pastry line up; all free from artificial colourings

Our viennoiserie collection

Our artisan breads

I take the most pride in the creation of original cakes for our bakery. In my opinion, the art behind the design and fabrication of entremets can be summed up using our bakery’s tagline #tastetextureform. There are many factors that need to be weighed when deciding on components for an entremet. Taste, structure, flavor balance and aesthetic all need to be considered individually, as well as how they would taste together in a bite. Each layer needs to have a function and needs to contribute to the overall taste and texture of the cake as a whole.

ASTRID: Raspberry, pistachio, white chocolate and yogurt

So an entremet needs to:

  1. TASTE balanced,
  2. have contrasting TEXTURES and 
  3. be structurally sound and look good aesthetically with good FORM. That is the challenge and what makes it fun! They are the most time consuming of any pastry that we make. Usually taking one whole day to make each of the components. There can be up to 8 components in a cake, which need to be made and layered separately and neatly.
At BEAU, we also offer a wide selection of artisan breads. The bread that is commonly found in Indonesia is the filled bun, usually soft and sweet. At BEAU we try to keep our breads as classically European as possible. We make traditional sourdoughs, French baguette as well as traditional Italian breads such as ciabatta, focaccia. These kinds of breads are delicious to use in sandwiches, and as a hearty accompaniment to any meal.  We also do not use any kinds of preservatives, bread improvers or pre-mixes in any of our breads. We also use whole-wheat flour and a plethora of seeds and grains in a number of our products. This ensures that our breads are as authentic, natural and healthy as they get.The intriguing thing about sourdough bread is that its “starter” is naturally cultured through the natural fermentation of flour and water.  Unlike normal bread, which uses commercialised yeast, we are able to obtain a “signature” taste using our leaven through our unique processes.
Each loaf is also hand shaped, hand scored and then baked in a steam injected deck oven. This means that no two loaves look the same; as our bread is artisan made.

Bread by BEAU

The amazing man behind our bread is Ian Chin. I met Mr Chin during my studies in Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. He was working in New York City and we hung out several times during my few months there studying bread. At the time he was working long hours at Sullivan Street bakery and had expressed to me discontent about his work. I had mentioned half-jokingly that he should come to Indonesia to help me get the bread section of the bakery started. It turned out he took it seriously and now he’s here. When he first came to Jakarta, my kitchen wasn’t yet ready due to construction delays. So we ended up testing our recipes at home using my small home oven. He would test and tweak his bread recipes one at a time using a combo cooker. Every day we’d slice them open and analyse each bread to see what can be improved. It took us about 4 months to come up with a sourdough recipe we were happy with.

Our bakery has a motto we always stand by: Respect the technique, respect the ingredient and respect the customer.

  • Respect the techniques: we need to get the fundamentals right before anything. There’s no use doing all the fancy stuff if you don’t know the big picture and how it relates back to the core concept and ideas behind each individual product. For example, we respect the age-old way of baking sourdough using natural leaveners instead of just using premixes and selling it as authentic “artisan sourdough”. 
  • Respect the ingredients: We are blessed with noble ingredients that we should treat with care. It is only right as chefs that we learn how to process each ingredient to make full use of its flavor and potential. We want to always choose the best ingredients and make sure that the products that feature them are able to represent the ingredients in a successful and impactful way. 
  • Respect the customer: We need to treat our customers as discerning people. Every so often, sub-par products are sold to customer because the producers think that the customers do not care or cannot perceive the differences. I also believe that I would only serve them products that I would serve my to my own kids in the future, products which are wholesome and healthy. This means they don’t contain anything that might harm your health such as artificial colouring, flavourings, additives and preservatives. 

Because I trained as a jazz musician, I perceive pastry as being my “instrument” I can create and compose with. I couldn’t really explain what drew me to choose the double bass as my instrument, but only to say that it represented my voice and that I am able to express myself thoroughly with it. Both music and pastry need a happy heart while you are making it, or else the products will not be good. Both need to be done wholeheartedly with a heart full with passion to be carried out the right way. Both call for a good amount of creativity and ingenuity to find new combinations, new techniques and reach new grounds. To me, both are a reflection of your lives, personality, tastes and culture. If you are able to learn more about yourself, your culture as well as your own likings and inclinations, you would be able to create something that is truer and nearer to your heart.

BEAU's opening team April 2015

Anyway thanks for taking the time to read this long blog post folks! Part 2 is coming soon where I'll talk about our pastry products in more detail! For the time being you can find our more about us on our website www.beaujkt.com and you can also find us on instagram @BEAUjkt!

Always keen to hear from like-minded, passionate chefs from around the world, especially if you're keen to join us in Jakarta! Please email me at talita@beaujkt.com to chat more :)

x Tal