Photo: McDonald’s Singapore

Hello guys! Please tell us more about yourselves.

Salehan: Hi, I’m Muhammad Salehan bin Jaafar. I’m currently doing the Pastry & Baking course in ITE College West. I’m more of an aesthetic person rather than a sporty guy.


Charmaine: I’m Charmaine and I’m currently doing my internship at Mandarin Oriental Hotel for 6 months as part of the Pastry & Baking course in ITE College West. My hobbies are dancing and of course, baking.


Seri: I’m Seri from ITE College West; currently doing my attachment at Mandarin Oriental Hotel with Charmaine. I’m active in my CCAs, and serve in the National Civil Defence Cadet Corps as a Cadet Lieutenant.

Congratulations on having your creation featured in McCafé outlets! Why did you guys join the contest?

Charmaine: Thanks so much for supporting us; we truly appreciate it! We joined because we are confident that what we have learned in ITE can be used to create a dessert worthy of the Singaporean palate. So we decided to give it a try.

What was the individual inspiration behind this cake and how did you guys decide on it?

Charmaine: Our individual inspiration was first and foremost, our grandparents (Salehan’s and Seri’s) and as for me, I’m really in love with teh tarik and coffee. Our team was thinking about cheesecake after our market survey and we chose teh tarik since coffee cheesecake is already in the market. As the theme was to infuse Singapore flavours, we tried out teh tarik and the outcome was GREAT!


Seri: We actually went around Singapore visiting Starbucks, Coffee Bean and other cafe outlets to check on their favourite desserts. We realised is that cheesecake is sold in most of the places. Since there’s demand, we decided to go it. We also visited coffee shops like Kopitiam, Mr Teh Tarik and other Malay and Indian restaurants; most of the customers there ordered teh tarik.

What were the challenges when perfecting this cake?

Salehan: The flavour of teh tarik was our Achilles heel. We were afraid that the cheesecake would be overwhelmed by teh tarik, and turn out too bitter. We had difficulties in balancing the flavours on the first few tries, but managed to find the correct blend in the end.


Seri: We kept modifying the recipe to the extent of disagreements along the way, but we have very caring lecturers who supported us.

What was the best or most fun bit about making this cake?

Salehan: It was the anticipation of how the cheesecake would turn out, as it took us a long time and effort to bake. And of course like any other chefs, we were anxious when it came to the tasting session, and eager to know our lecturers’ verdict on our creation.


Charmaine: Well, the best part was spending additional hours at school in the evenings to perfect the cheesecake and in the tasting of the cake thereafter.


Seri: Our team debated and spent countless hours while trying to perfect the recipe. To me, the hours spent were worthwhile, as I was able to spend my time with people who are like me, love what we do and that is BAKING!

How did you feel when your cake emerged the winner?

Salehan: I was really proud of my team members and how we were able to manage the process and work together as a team. It’s all about the experience. But of course, winning is a bonus, as it’s a recognition of our hard work.


Charmaine: I didn’t expect our cake to be chosen. Overall, I’m very proud of our achievement; winning this with my friends made the experience all the more memorable.


Seri: I was surprised; I thought that we could have done better in certain areas. I would like to thank my lecturers, families and our friends for their support.

Could you share with us your top tips for baking the perfect cake? To you, what is the perfect cake?

Salehan: One that is baked with love, with accurate measurements of ingredient portions. A perfect cake is when it tastes DELICIOUS and looks appetising.


Charmaine: To me as a chef, You Must Do What You Love and Love What You Do. You would have to understand the chemistry required in creating a delectable cake. A perfect cake must look appealing to the eye and of course, taste delicious to the palate.


Seri: “A perfect cake is not judged by its looks but by its taste.” If the appearance looks good but the taste is not there, it is not a perfect cake.

What are your plans for the future (distant or near)? Do they involve baking?

Salehan: My dream is to be a singing chef. And to produce a musical that involves singing, music, dancing and baking.


Charmaine: I would like to further my studies overseas, and of course it must involve baking. I aspire to be a pastry chef and open a bakery one day.


Seri: I plan to further my studies after I graduate from ITE. I aspire to advance my studies overseas in pastry too.

Any famous last words?

Seri: Never give up!

Taste the winning creation at all McCafe outlets from now till 1 Oct 2014, and view images of other cakes created for the contest here.