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Interview

At The Table With: Ben Goh, Executive Pastry Chef, Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, Guangzhou & Member of Singapore National Culinary Team

17 November 2021 by Food&HotelAsia

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Introducing Chef Ben Goh who is currently based in Shanghai and will be returning to Singapore to be part of the Singapore National Culinary Team 2022 and join the Culinary World Cup. The Singapore National Culinary Team is supported by the Singapore Chefs’ Association.

Hi Chef Goh! What has been keeping you busy during 2021?

In 2021 I am thankful I can still keep myself busy in hotel operations, create new trends in pastry in Guangzhou. I have been trained in many international competitions with the Singapore National Culinary Team and Singapore National Pastry team, and that experience has really come in very useful. I’ve  been working on grooming more young talents in my pastry and bakery team. Recently for FHC, one of my team members went for plated dessert competition and won gold medal and overall best plated dessert.  We are so very proud of this achievement.

(Photos: Sugar Art)

You’ve been based in Guangzhou since 2019, leading the pastry team at Shangri-La. How is that like?

Unfortunately, we had COVID after I joined, so everything changed. I needed to lead the team to do things they might never have done before, such as online selling rather than walk-ins , and how to ensure we have same consistent for production since we pre-sold 4000 cakes in a two week period.

For me, it was also interesting to know about the different cultures.

(Photo: (Left) Japanese Strawberry Short Cake, (Right) Black Forest)

You created many different pastries during your time there, from gelato to tarts to mousse. Could you share what inspires you?

Whether it’s for work or for competition, I am inspired by everything around me. During my time in China, it was l the traditional culture in Guangzhou, food and people. For example, I created a mala gelato or Osmanthus toufu white fungus mousse cake. Guangzhou really has a long history of culture of more than 1000 years.

(Photo: (Left) Lemon Meringue Tart, (Right) Granny Smith Apple Dacquoise)

In your opinion, what are the main differences being a chef in Guangzhou and a chef in Singapore?

I think  the main differences are still the culture and also the local market in Guangzhou prefer simpler and more straightforward flavours.

What are your best takeaways from your time in Guangzhou – professionally and personally?

Professional-wise I have a chance to see something different from Singapore, the market and connection and of course know about the local fresh ingredients, to use local flavours to create desserts.

My Chinese improved a lot as I often need to present my dessert in Chinese! This is really new for me and I now know ingredients in Chinese!

You’ve taken part in many pastry competitions throughout your career, creating beautiful works along the way. My favourite has to be your Alice in Wonderland piece at Top Pâtissier in Asia, held in Japan! Which works are you most proud of, and why?

I think this competition is one of the toughest competitions I took part, because it is an individual competition and you need to do both sugar and chocolate art pieces on your own. It took me a lot of time to practice to ensure my chocolate and sugar skills are both up to scratch on an international competition level.

We hear you are coming back to Singapore in 2022! How do you feel about being part of the Singapore National Culinary Team for Culinary World Cup 2022?

I am very excited to be part of the Singapore National Culinary Team at the Culinary World Cup 2022 in Luxembourg! For one, it has been a while. Secondly, the team won champion in 2014 and 2016, so we hope we can achieve good results. But honestly, every competition is different, every team is different and the journey, lessons we learn and experience gained are equally important. I have seen in my own day to day work how having gone through competitions has made me a better chef. I have been exposed to more creative inspirations, developed more international network, and have better organisational skills. The latter is a must when it comes to competitions!

(Photo: (Left) MDAS 2018, (Right) World Pastry Cup 2019)

How are you preparing for 2022 Culinary World Cup in Luxembourg?

I have made plans to come back to Singapore in 2022 so I can be part of the Singapore National Culinary Team. This is how much being part of this competition means to me and I hope to help mentor more chefs who can benefit from such an experience. The first step is to set up a pastry team and discuss the direction and work together for menu design and flavour combination. I may be in China, but we will start ‘video food tastings’ before I head back to Singapore so we can have better communication. It is always better, face to face.

What is your favourite pastry – to eat and to prepare?

Probably Japanese style swiss roll, which is light and fluffy and easy to prepare. That’s why I put it on my buffet rotation menu to make sure I can have it when I want!  😊

(Photo: (Left) Chess Theme Afternoon Tea, (Right) Peranankan Theme Afternoon Tea)

Being a pastry chef is …

… to create and make people feel happiness, whether it’s a simple or fancy ingredient. The pastry chef is always the person who can deliver delight and surprise if you make the pastry from heart.

All photos in interview are contributed from Chef Ben Goh. The Singapore Chefs’ Association will be sharing highlights of the Singapore National Culinary Team’s journey to the Culinary World Cup 2022 on the following channels:

www.singaporechefs.com | facebook: Singapore Chefs Association | ig: @singaporechefs | #singaporechefs

 

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