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Chef Kevin Lee is Ready to Charm Jakarta with a Sweet Plate of ʻHappinessʼ

Chef Kevin Lee is Ready to Charm Jakarta with a Sweet Plate of ?Happiness?
Chef Kevin Lee is Ready to Charm Jakarta with a Sweet Plate of ʻHappinessʼ

Find out all about the current Executive Pastry Chef at The St. Regis Jakarta!

On the 13th of June, 2024, Indonesia Expat enjoyed a sit down with Chef Kevin Lee, the current Executive Pastry Chef at The St. Regis Jakarta. With 26 years of professional experience as a pastry chef under his belt, Chef Kevin Lee divulged what encouraged him to make his professional mark in Jakarta, Indonesia for the first time, why the desserts and pastries at The St. Regis Jakarta stand out among confections offered by other patisseries in the city, and why, when all is said and done, his guests’ happiness is what ultimately matters.

Hi Chef. Let’s get started by introducing yourself a bit. What can you tell us about yourself?

I was born and grew up in France. My family originated in Hong Kong; thus, I am half French and half Chinese. I attended a culinary school in Paris, left the city at the age of 18, and I have been travelling internationally since then. I’ve worked at bakery shops, Michelin-starred restaurants, cruise ships, caterers, chocolate shops, and so on. As of now, I work as the Executive Pastry Chef at The St. Regis Jakarta.

Croissant Puff Strawberry
Croissant Puff Strawberry
Can you tell us the story of when you first fell in love with the culinary world of pastries?

In France, there is a pastry shop on almost every street. I am diabetic, so growing up, I was not allowed to eat sugar. Having said that, I saw how everybody looked so happy when they entered a pastry shop, and that really sparked my curiosity about pastries. I believe that was the time when I discovered that being a pastry chef was what I wanted to do for a living — because pastries make so many people happy.

You are also known as a pastry chef who puts thoughtful consideration into what diabetic connoisseurs can and cannot consume. Why is this aspect so important for you, personally?

On a personal level, this aspect resonates with me so much because I, myself, am diabetic. As a diabetic, I understand how there is usually not enough option or selection of desserts and pastries that I and my fellow diabetics can enjoy. Hence, I would love to create something that is both tasty and safe to consume by us.

What led you to take up the role of Executive Pastry Chef at The St. Regis Jakarta in the first place?

It went back to the ‘hotel’ element of The St. Regis Jakarta. As a chef, working in a hotel fits me better, especially concerning the creativity that I am allowed to explore and the projects that I could delve into. A hotel encompasses, for instance, an afternoon tea room, a cake shop, a buffet, a plated dessert, a banquet, and so on. This is also my first time working in Indonesia, so I find this job a perfect opportunity to challenge myself.

Flower Croissant
Flower Croissant
So far, how would you describe most Indonesiansʼ attitudes towards pastries and sugary treats?

I think Indonesians are very passionate about what they love, be it either sports or food. In terms of culinary stuff, their passion helps me do a better job as a pastry chef. I also see such passion in the team I am working with. As a team, we share a beautiful vision of becoming the top name in Jakarta’s pastry scene. This collective goal inspires me to strive for excellence and be the best I can be.

Indonesians can also be very vocal in their criticism. Does that aspect ever make you feel nervous as a pastry chef who is currently based in Jakarta?

Well, such is life. At the end of the day, what matters is how we handle criticism and certain situations. We cannot please everybody, certainly, but we can adapt to what they love. Here at The St. Regis Jakarta, how to adapt to the guests’ tastes and preferences is key.

How would you describe your signature style as a pastry chef? And how would you adapt your signature style as a pastry chef to the Indonesians’ taste and the local culture?

As a pastry chef, I very much immerse myself in the Western baking techniques that I learned back in France, which I would afterwards implement into the local and premium ingredients. For instance, I once prepared a cheesecake — a very Western pastry — that incorporated the flavour of tempe.

When it comes to working in the hospitality sector, it is important to adapt to the culture in which you are currently based, professionally. As a pastry chef in Jakarta, Indonesia, I always try to understand what Indonesians enjoy and what they would love to request in their desserts and pastries. Moreover, it is important to use the best ingredients you can find here in Indonesia; all of which are so fantastic to discover. In doing my research on local ingredients, I would usually visit the local markets and check out what they sell and how changing seasons influence what they sell. Fresh ideas often spontaneously pop up in my head whenever I visit local markets, as well.

Sweet Plate of Happiness
Sweet Plate of Happiness
From your perspective, what makes the pastries served in The St. Regis Jakarta stand out among confections by other patisseries in the city?

Here at The St. Regis Jakarta, we always use the best ingredients possible. Incorporating ingredients of high quality, I believe, is the key to making a good plate of dessert. Moreover, the expertise of my team, my fellow chefs, and our Director of Culinary is very much exceptional. Every single one of them is great and passionate about what they do, and every single one of them brings such a special skill to the table. And then, there is the environment. The St. Regis Jakarta exudes such a friendly and warm atmosphere that makes it enjoyable for, let’s say, an afternoon tea in the city. Our service team is also more than equipped to help create a delightful experience for the guests and the diners. What’s more, the presentation of our desserts and pastries is quite Instagram-able. Nowadays diners wish to feast their eyes as well, and that means an exquisite presentation is also paramount.

Ultimately, as the Executive Pastry Chef at The St. Regis Jakarta, my job is to create good emotions among the people who enjoy the desserts and pastries. What matters is the people’s happiness, and that means I must always fulfil what they wish for.

croissant St. Regis Jakarta What is next for you and The St. Regis Jakarta?

There are certain conceptual changes that we are currently planning, including the menu. This will be very exciting. Additionally, there are some exquisite collaborations with guest chefs coming up in the future.

Last but not least, how can our readers reach you and The St. Regis Jakarta?

You’re welcome to reach out to me via Instagram @chef.kevin.lee. Moreover, you can reach out to The St. Regis Jakarta via Instagram @stregisjakarta, Facebook with the account name The St. Regis Jakarta, and LinkedIn with the account name The St. Regis Jakarta. You can also visit The St. Regis Jakarta’s official website https://www.stregisjakarta.co.id.

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