The journey from Singapore to Venice, California for Pastry Chef Kristy Choo has been flavored with local herbs, Asian spices, and French chocolates and teas. After two careers, the world-class, award-winning chocolatière is still savoring the journey.
Choo was born in Singapore into a Chinese family who operates a food store retailing regional Chinese fare. It was her early experiences as a child that allowed her to develop a taste for good food. After working for a luxury retail boutique, her second career as a flight attendant for ANA Airlines led her to international destinations, exposing her to the flavors and concepts of haute cuisine.
Her travels fueled her curiosity about international cuisine. She decided to become a chef, enrolling at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, where her affinity for desserts became apparent. She returned to Singapore and worked in the pastry department at the prestigious Raffles Hotel, where she had the privilege of occasionally working alongside visiting culinary super-chefs Joel Robuchon and Alain Ducasse and their team of patissiers and chocolatiers. After a couple of years at Raffles, she briefly worked at the French restaurant Les Amis, then took off for a couple of months to explore London, England on her own to see what else was happening in the culinary universe.
In early 2002, a friend unexpectedly asked Choo to join the Singapore’s national team for the prestigious international “Food & Hotel Asia” competition in April that year. Not considering herself a master chocolatière, she decided to test her abilities and rose to meet the challenge of competing against formidable European and Asian opponents. For this competition, she trained every day for a month and a half, often 14 hours a day or more, under the guidance of Team Manager and Executive Pastry Chef Kenny Kong of Singapore’s Swissôtel, to master the learning curve, as well as invent truly original recipes. Her hard work paid off, and her team defeated the exalted Swiss and German chocolatiers in the competitive Petit Fours category. This triumph led to her being selected for the Culinary World Cup held in Luxembourg in November 2002, where she again competed against other international teams.
The confidence-building experience led her to realize her abilities as a master chocolatière and that she could, indeed, open her own pastry business, which she had been quietly contemplating while working for others. Her husband Kim Oh moved his business to Los Angeles and the couple moved there in late 2002. After months of research, they found the perfect location for Jin Patisserie, a pastry boutique and Asian-inspired tea garden, located on a very chic stretch of Venice’s Abbot Kinney Blvd. Choo auspiciously chose the name “Jin,” which is a modified version of Choo’s middle name (“Gyan”). In Mandarin, “Jin” also means “gold” and refers to four Chinese dynasties.
Like every artist, Choo is her own critic, holding herself to a standard of outdoing herself with innovation, artistry, and refinery. And Choo is still winning awards. Jin Patisserie was chosen “Best of LA” in 2004 by Los Angeles Magazine, and Choo was among the 2006 StarChefs.com Rising Star Pastry Chefs. She brings her sense of adventure to her cuisine by using the finest ingredients from around the world and infusing their unique flavors to her creations. Elevating chocolates from a craft into an edible art form has been one sweet journey.