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Chef Kaew Paweenuch, Celebrity Chef and Owner of Bear & Bunny Croissant Shop

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It's a pleasure to catch up with Chef Kaew, Paweenuch Yodprechavigit, one of our successful alumni from Le Cordon Bleu Dusit Culinary School, Thailand. A sweet natured chef with an outstanding talent for ingenuity and creativity. A seasoned chef, with experience in the craftsmanship of developing interesting dishes. She created history by becoming one of the first female chefs in Thailand and the winner of the first season of the global TV cooking competition after completing Diplôme de Cuisine Programme at Le Cordon Bleu Dusit in 2016.

Victory always leads to the beginning of proving one’s skill. This led her to becoming a professional chef, with a successful career in the food industry. She is currently one of the most recognized and well-known female celebrity chefs in Thailand. As a true lover of culinary learning, she went on to study Pastry course in 2019, along with developing her skills to become Thailand's leading Celebrity Chef and the Chef Owner of Bear & Bunny croissant shop.

My father once said no-one is the best, the best depends on who we are compared to. Try it first. If you do it, you can only have two outcomes: success or failure. All of us will encounter many failures in life so that we can find success that is worth waiting for.

- Chef Paweenuch Yodprechavigit -

When did you realise you wanted to become a Celebrity Chef and Owner of a Croissant Shop?

I knew that I was a person who liked to cook for a long time, from around the age of 9 years old. However, in the past there were not many people working as chefs in Thailand. We would call the cook a cook, hard work and low pay. As I grew up, cooking was a hobby. Until one day I felt that attending university and what I was studying didn’t make me happy at all. Food was what made me happy. It was then that I had the idea of working in the food industry. I want to give it a try.

What’s the best thing about being a Celebrity Chef and Chef Owner?

I have the opportunity to discover new dishes and many new ingredients from savoury to sweet. There will always be new techniques and people that walk into this path and in this industry, making it a lot of fun. Everyday there are new and interesting things to learn and develop. No matter how much I study, it's never enough. It always gives me the strength to move forward.

What are your main responsibilities? Talk us through your average working day…

Being the Chef owner of a croissant shop, I look at the production, developing various formulas, try new recipes and preparing things on the day. On delivery day, all croissants must be prepared with fillings. I oversee the packaging and deal with all the problems that they arise. As for the celebrity chef part, there will be cooking shows, private cooking classes, TV interviews or cooking competitions, catering, vlogs, Facebook Live, etc. It gives me the opportunity to go to new places, meet new people, discover strange ingredients, and have fun in other ways.

Is there anything that surprised you when starting the role?

At first I thought that the making of a croissant delivery shop was a routine and I might be bored. It has to be hard and it's not fun to repeat. But after doing it, I realised that I really liked doing these things. It's like watching a croissant puff up in the oven, or when the dough is being kneaded in a kneading machine. It was a lot more fun than I had imagined. At the celebrity chef events, everything surprised us because we didn't know anything at the time. It was like walking into an unfamiliar place, not knowing what to expect. But it's ready to go full on.

How do you work with your team? Any management tips?

Working with a good team for this small shop is about a separation of responsibilities. There will be people who are heads and will not quarrel among the discussion. As for managing, it requires a lot of mindfulness. To be above emotions. Work is work and there must be some disagreement. But always keep in mind that everyone's goal is to make our store look good too.
Being the celebrity chef, we need to have many teams to keep. Need to find a makeup team and production team for some events and several kitchen teams. We must be ready in every situation. These jobs require connections and a lot of people. There can be a lot of problems on the job site. We have to solve the immediate problems very well. No matter what mistakes we make, we have to make the work come to an end beautifully. It’s really challenging.

Why did you choose Le Cordon Bleu Dusit? What does Le Cordon Bleu represent for you in one word/sentence?

I selected Le Cordon Bleu Dusit after trying to find a cooking school in Thailand and information about the study. I think Le Cordon Bleu Dusit is the best cooking school. So, I chose to study. If you were to define Le Cordon Bleu Dusit in one word, I think it's the word 'home'. It's warm every time I come back to school and when I am able to meet everyone in the school. That makes me happy.

How did studying the Diplôme de Cuisine and Intermediate Pâtisserie help you to achieve your current role? What’s your fondest memory from Le Cordon Bleu?

The truth is, because I took a French Cuisine Course making me who I am today. I got all the basics of cooking right. The order of cooking in the kitchen is all from Le Cordon Bleu Dusit. I always believe that I can build on everything well. That's what Le Cordon Bleu Disit has given to me. The happiest experience at Le Cordon Bleu Dusit was when I finished Superior level and got a teddy bear on stage. All my effort was successful. Then, I came back for the Pastry Course.

Do you still meet with Le Cordon Bleu graduates?

I rarely meet my classmates anymore, but I still meet other students who did not graduate at the same time. But really, when we know people who graduated From Le Cordon Bleu it will be like some kind of connection that makes it possible to talk to each other. If I go somewhere and meet alumni I will choose to talk to them before anyone else because of the connection.

What has been the best moment in your career so far? What have been some challenges you’ve overcome in your role?

It's the time when I won a cooking competition. It was the first year it was held in Thailand and I’m like proving myself until I win. I’m very proud of myself and feel more confident in my food. What I have been through since becoming a celebrity chef is the expectations of other people because everyone will have a picture of us being creative. We are so good that it seems that there is no room for mistakes at all. In spite of the fact that we still lack a lot of experience in this industry. But what I did was to try harder in my study, to cook more and try to make as few mistakes as possible. Being a person that improves every day, I now don't feel worried about that expectation anymore. I tell myself that I am determined to do my best every day. That's enough.

What's the best piece of advice you’ve received? And/or what advice would you give to anyone looking to follow in your footsteps?

My father once said no-one is the best, the best depends on who we are compared to. Everything has better people and always worse than us. Therefore, we must not put too much pressure on ourselves. Make as much as we can. Don't expect us to be the best. It will be tiring for us. “Don't just say that you can't do it. Don't just think that you're not good enough” This is my encouragement for everyone who is running after their dreams and want to follow in my footsteps. Whether to cook as a chef or go out to a cooking competition or whatever, try it first. If you do it, you can only have two outcomes: success or failure, but if you say you can't do it in the first place and don't even try then you have no success. All of us will encounter many failures in life so that we can find success that is worth waiting for.

Who is your biggest inspiration?

From the perspective of being a good chef, there are two people: Heston Blumental, the owner of the three Michelin restaurant, Fat Duck and also Massimo Bottura, the owner of the three Michelin star chef and the former owner of a good restaurant award. The best in the world. I like the style of cooking like an adventure, like Heston's amusement park and the combination of art with Massimo's food. The two are very much my idols in terms of their lifestyles and their way of creating dishes.

But, in terms of inspiration, the person I feel is an idol is my father because he taught me every philosophy in this world. He is very cool in being the perfect father in everything. When I grow up, I always want to be like him, a rational person who works well and is a good adviser to everyone and always have time for family.

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