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Photo Credit: Jon Deshler

Kristy Choo
Jin Patisserie
1202 Abbot Kinny Blvd.
Venice, CA 90291
(310) 399-8801

Recipe »

Antoinette Bruno: What is your philosophy on pastry?
Kristy Choo: Never be afraid to experiment with anything that comes to your mind – just give it a try. I like to try different things with chocolate and see how they taste.

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Kristy Choo

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. Choo is still winning awards. Jin Patisserie was chosen “Best of LA” in 2004 by Los Angeles Magazine. 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.

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Interview Cont'd
AB: What restaurants that you have worked in as a pastry chef have been the most influential?
KC: Raffles Hotel. I had just graduated from school and that was my training ground. I worked with the best visiting chefs from all over the world for one week at a time.

AB: How was your Baking and Pastry training at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco?
KC: I really liked it. There was a lot of hands-on training. It was a very good school. I would recommend culinary school, but I think that those interested in pursuing this career should first work in a kitchen before going to school, which will give you a better idea of the real working environment in a professional kitchen. At least you would know what to expect.

AB: Have you won any awards?
KC: Hotel Food Asia and the Culinary World Cup – for chocolate.

AB: What pastry or kitchen tools can’t you live without?
KC: My palate knife. I use it to level out my mousse, temper my chocolate on a tabletop and make chocolate garnishes.

AB: What are your favorite ingredients?
KC: Chocolate. I like 72 percent bitter chocolate because it has a very good flavor.

AB: What are your top three tips for dessert success?
KC: Texture, flavor combinations and presentation.

AB: Who are your mentors/pastry heroes?
KC: Chef Kenny Kong from the Raffles Hotel. He guided me throughout my competition and brought me to a different level that I never thought I could get to. And Chef Pang of Canele inspired me with his artistic talent.

AB: What are your favorite desserts?
KC: My favorite dessert to eat is very simple- a warm pear tart. My favorite desserts to make are chocolate desserts.

AB: What trends do you see emerging in pastry arts?
KC: Simplicity and work that is very clean in presentation and complex in flavor, with texture as well. I see lots of use of Asian ingredients combined with a Western style and technique.

AB: Where do you see yourself in 5 to 10 years?
KC: I would like to establish a few boutiques that will showcase my passion in the art of pastry.



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   Published: May 2006