Hey Steven, tell us about yourself!
A bay area native, I graduated from City College of San Francisco with a Culinary Arts degree, and earned a diploma in Patisserie from the Hong Kong Culinary Academy after working several years in a Resort in Sausalito. In 2014, I became the premier Pastry Chef at Stanford University, where I created the institution's first pastry department. In 2018 I decided to moved to Los Angeles and opened the Santa Monica Proper Hotel as their Executive Pastry Chef. At my most recent job, I worked for one of the top catering companies in the Bay Area, Global Gourmet Catering, where I used my diverse experiences to produce refined, beautiful, and above all, delicious desserts.
Can you tell us what you do as the owner of Spoons Patisserie?
I’m a Professional Pastry Chef who recently started my home baking business. I am known for my Asian fusion desserts/pastries. People may also know me as the Bay Area Dan Tat guy. For the past 8 months, I am a one person company doing everything including taking orders, scheduling pick ups, marketing, web design, shopping for ingredients, packaging and most importantly, all the baking (with a home gas oven!)
How did you decide to start your own business? What pivotal moments pushed you to where you are now?
Ever since I was a kid, art was always the one thing that made me happy. I didn’t like school much and going to Lowell High School made me realized it even more. In College is where I fell in love with cooking. I attended City College of San Francisco and did the Culinary and Hospitality Program. It took two years to get my degree and during my second year is when I decided I want to specialize in Pastry. The precision and creativity that goes into pastries is what makes it so much more unique and fun.
What inspired you to start your craft?
With all the experience (working in hotels/resorts, fine dining restaurant, bakeries, catering and even a school) I’ve gained during these 10 years, I felt it was time to do my own thing. I set some goals for myself (being a chef at the age of 25, owning my business when I’m 30), it was time for me to keep pushing myself so that I can one day open my own bakery. My biggest inspiration is Gregoire Michaud. I wish to one day have my bakery like his.
Any advice on how to get started for those who want to start their own business?
Enjoy what you do, ask questions, and always be nice to people. Building a connection with people is very important in this world. Leaving a good impression is always the best way someone will remember you by. The willingness to learn and practice on your spare time will help you become better. If you’re planning on starting a business, especially a baking one, I would definitely advise you to do something different and try to stand out from everyone else. Nowadays everyone can bake. Cookies, scones and even make bread. What can you make that’s one of a kind. Building a customer based on what you’re known for is number one on the list.
3 Character traits that would make someone excel in your field
Organization, Creativity, Humility
What fuels you to continue to do what you do?
The smile on my customers face, and having returning customers.
Most difficult thing about your owning your own business?
Doing everything alone.
What would you like to say to your younger self?
Travel more and work less.
Best advice you've received/heard?
“Mastering simplicity is much more difficult than creating something with great complexity” Getting the basic down first is the most important in the culinary industry.
Any last thoughts, advice, or recommendations for someone who wants to become their own owner/pastry chef?
If you’re starting off and you decide to go to school, know that this field is low pay, long hours and requires a lot of passion. Don’t expect everything to be sugar coated and full of sprinkles. Have fun and make friends that you can talk food about.