Felicia Khoo is only 21 this year, but she already has a whole slew of baking-related accomplishments under her belt that would put aspiring masterchefs to shame. Using humble ingredients like fondant and gumpaste, she creates elaborate 3-Dimensional cakes that take the shape of anything from racecar helmets to heated Plants VS Zombies battlefields, which often take days to complete. Having received commissions from celebrities such as Joanne Peh, Sharon Au, to catering for Club21’s Mulberry event, she can be regarded as somewhat of a baker to the stars. This is just the beginning for her though. Felicia is currently working at 1-Caramel Patisserie as a cake artist and come June, she will be pursuing a diploma in Patisserie at the esteemed Le Cordon Bleu in Paris.
Felicia also maintains a blog at http://muffinsareuglycupcakes.wordpress.com, where she documents her baking adventures. ActuallyMag speaks to her about her very delectable interests.
Take us back to how it all began.
Felicia: It started when I was still in Secondary School but it wasn’t a frequent thing back then. It was only when I entered Polytechnic that I began expressing more interest in baking. I spent practically all my time poring over food blogs and new recipes. After some time, I needed an avenue to collate my findings and that was how the blog began. I had no idea other people would be interested in it.
Who are your inspirations/baking heroes?
Nigella Lawson makes baking look so effortless, not to mention she manages to exude sheer sensuality even while getting her hands dirty. I also love the movie ‘Julie and Julia’. I found myself identifying with it very strongly and it was one of the factors that pushed me to pursue my love for baking at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris.
A day in your life, what occurs?
When I’m not baking, I’ll be in school. Normally though, I will turn on my laptop first thing in the morning and make my rounds to a fixed list of blogs and websites, often just to drop comments. When I’m feeling inspired, I’ll dash to the supermarket to get my ingredients ready and start baking. Strangely enough, I only take a bite out of my end product. This passion of mine takes up a whole lot of time and money but it’s definitely worth it.
One place in the world you would love to visit?
I’ve already visited my dream destination—Paris! On my first trip there, I was a little disarmed. I didn’t like the place as much as I thought I would but after spending more time there and getting familiarized with the city, I ended up falling head over heels in love with it just like everyone else.
Tell us something about yourself that no one knows.
I was absolutely clueless when I first started baking. I didn’t have a proper mixer and had no idea how to control the oven temperature!
Out of all your creations, which is your favourite?
When I first starting baking, I made a ‘helmet-shaped’ cake for my Dad because he likes racing cars. It got pretty messy at some points and I spent numerous sleepless nights trying to perfect the shape of the cake.
What advice do you have for aspiring bakers?
This might sound clichéd, but try everything once! I’ve had a lot of readers email me with queries but the best way to learn is just to try it for yourself. The internet has everything you’ll need. Do your research and don’t be afraid to make a big mess. It’ll be fun!
You met Alexa Chung and even baked for her! Tell us about the experience.
Alexa Chung is so pretty! Despite dressing down in a blouse and shorts for our humid weather, she still looked so effortless and cool. She was also very nice and down-to-earth.
What has been the biggest highlight in your baking career?
Definitely the Club21 for Mulberry event! It still feels kind of unreal. Everybody there was very receptive and understanding even when one of the cakes I baked accidentally toppled. My friend joked that I should be paid in terms of bags and in the end I really did receive a very desirable Mulberry ‘Alexa’ bag.
Joanne Peh also contacted me to bake a cake for her friend, David Gan’s birthday. It was really stressful as we had so many details to settle and corresponded only through email due to her busy schedule. In the end I baked a ‘Hermès Leica Camera’ cake and it was a huge success! I’m so glad we managed to pull that off.