Flour to Flourish: Edwin Chan’s Journey Beyond Pastries

Uncover the secret recipe to success with Edwin Chan, our homegrown macaron phenomenon, as he flourishes beyond pastries in this awe-inspiring tale!

'Everything except pastries.' Edwin Chan was quick to quip when asked about his baking repertoire during his early days as a budding culinary student. In a world where aspiring chefs dedicated themselves to mastering the intricate art of pastry-making, Edwin's response echoed through the corridors of irony. Little did he realise then that this innocuous comment would serve as a prelude to a future graced with delectable creations and a resounding reputation in the realm of pastries.  

Today, as the proud founder and chef of Elevete Patisserie, Edwin has made a name for himself as the unofficial maestro of French macarons in Malaysia. These delicate and dainty treats, seemingly simple yet notoriously difficult to perfect, have become his signature speciality. 'I believed that if I could conquer these finicky confections, everything else would become relatively easy,' Edwin explains. And conquer them, he did. Elevete now sells an impressive 800 macarons each day, alongside a selection of other sweet temptations. 

But before the reign of his macaron empire, Edwin had humble beginnings selling mooncakes.

Stirring up Passion

Edwin's culinary journey, you might say, was destined from birth. After all, it flowed through his family's veins. Nestled in the bustling Petaling Street of downtown Kuala Lumpur, Edwin's great-grandfather presided over a cherished heritage restaurant with the rest of the family, where they dished up delicious Cantonese cuisine. It was there that young Edwin found himself immersed in the world of pastries — spending his spare time selling mooncakes at the family store! Even though circumstances eventually led the family to bid farewell to the restaurant, Edwin's destiny with pastries was far from over. 

In the throes of youth, Edwin, too, faced the all-too-familiar dilemma of pondering his future, much like many of us. 'My brothers knew what they wanted to do with their lives, but I didn't,' he confesses. However, fate took a tantalising twist when Edwin's uncle offered him a life-changing suggestion: pursue a course in culinary arts.

Kneading the Mind

For Edwin, culinary arts should encompass much more than just the sharpening of skills; it should shape minds. And so, when deciding where to embark on his culinary journey, Edwin found Taylor's to be the clear and compelling choice, offering something other educational institutions often overlook — the 'art' of a growth mindset. Even then, he recognised that cultivating such a mindset held the key to unlocking a world of greater feats, transcending the mere realm of culinary expertise.

Convicted in his perspective, he states, 'Skills alone may lead you to view a recipe as a baked good and a baked good as a product, but it takes that select mindset to think beyond the basics: to consider the why behind it, what makes it unique, and how you can make it a hit in the market.'

Unlike certain talented chefs who may shy away from the commercial side of their endeavour, Edwin's learned mindset emboldened him to stride confidently in both the artistic and entrepreneurial aspects. It is this very mindset that he credits for the meteoric rise of his pastry-making enterprise. Unshackled from convention, he boldly broke away from the crowd that opted for a brick-and-mortar shop during the café culture boom in 2014, venturing into the virtual marketplace with his own online bakery. Tapping into a market gap, Edwin sought to offer artisanal pastries conveniently delivered to customers' doorsteps — a move that proved opportune during the COVID-19 pandemic-induced surge in online services. 

Whisking up the New Generation

Today, Edwin's ardour for fostering a growth mindset extends well beyond his own culinary journey; it is a legacy he wholeheartedly seeks to impart to others, especially those who find themselves under his guiding wing.

As a boss, Edwin embodies the role of a supportive mentor to a tee, emanating encouragement and empowerment. One heartfelt anecdote stands out, as he recounts supporting a staff member's dream to compete in a prestigious baking competition in Singapore. Going the extra mile (quite literally), he personally drove them to the competition venue, his dedication fuelling their determination. 'If I can facilitate them in their growth, then I will,' he affirms with genuine enthusiasm. Another testament to his commitment is when another staff member expressed a desire to switch roles, and Edwin not only embraced the change but also empowered them with the knowledge and skills necessary to thrive in their new position.

And despite his hectic schedule, Edwin's heart — and his haven that is Elevete — are always open to aspiring culinary students seeking internships. However, his mentorship traverses the boundaries of the kitchen. He provides these up-and-coming chefs with a comprehensive experience, guiding them not only in culinary techniques but also in the subtleties of front-of-house operations, supplier relations, and even customer interactions. Edwin firmly believes that true success stems from embracing every facet of the trade, from the artistic craftsmanship behind the pastries to the astute acumen of running a successful business. 

Moreover, Edwin is not merely a mentor within the bounds of an internship but a compassionate counsellor to these young talents. Alongside his team, he offers sincere advice and guidance to aid them in navigating not only their culinary dreams but also their personal and professional aspirations. He confides, 'I wished I had someone to talk through things with me when I was younger, but I didn't have that, so I'm hoping to do this for the next generation.' 

Baking for Smiles

In the culmination of his (ongoing) culinary journey, Edwin emerges as a celebrated example of a chef, lauded not only for his artistry but, more importantly, his character. As his business expands to international borders, spanning from Singapore and further, he remains resolute in upholding his core values. For Edwin, success transcends mere financial gains; it revolves around a higher purpose that he wholeheartedly embraces.

'It's the smiles that truly matter,' Edwin shares. To him, his desserts encapsulate emotions, epitomise celebrations, and serve as the centrepiece of momentous occasions. Witnessing the sheer happiness and satisfaction his creations bring to patrons is the ultimate gratification that ignites his fiery passion. 

An inspiring testament to purpose-driven professionalism, Edwin's journey extends beyond the realm of pastries and into the sphere of positively influencing the people around him. This is what elevates him from being merely a fine chef to an even finer model of humanity.

Craving your own culinary adventure? Let Edwin's story inspire you to embark on one today with our programmes from the School of Food Studies and Gastronomy or Taylor's Culinary Institute!