How his Journey Began
Quek Wee Keong started out as a supervisor in a paper production company, with no idea what he wanted to do as a profession. After finding out about the different culinary courses available, he enrolled in a pastry school and took his head chef’s advice to gain industry experience by working at a bakery. It was there that he realised how much he enjoyed baking, and decided to make this his career.
Chef Quek’s foray into healthcare and CGH was more serendipitous. Having worked in the hospitality industry, he chanced upon a job posting for pastry chefs from the hospital, some five years ago, and was intrigued by the possibility that a hospital would require pastry chefs. The thought of patients also being able to enjoy "sinful" pastry delights interested him enough to apply for the job, and he has not looked back since.
The role of a Sous Chef
While most would think that being a Sous Chef means cooking or baking all day, there is a lot more planning and preparation involved before the actual baking even begins. It also involves a certain degree of experimentation and innovation to work in dietary requirements and restrictions so as to meet the recommended dietary and nutritional intake for patients, while still getting the recipes right to satisfy patients’ cravings. Chef Quek starts preparations at least one to two days in advance, to ensure that there is sufficient food stock to meet the needs of patients who require customised menu items. At times, the key ingredients required may not be available, which makes creating the requested dish more challenging. There is discussion and close coordination with the Food Services team, including the other chefs and dietitians, to get regular feedback and suggestions on how to improve the dishes in terms of taste, texture, and nutritional value, before the dishes are finalised and ready to be served.
The Job Satisfaction
Despite the challenges, Chef Quek finds much satisfaction in receiving positive feedback about his creations. He vividly recalls selling swiss rolls baked from recipes that he developed for a particular year during the President’s Challenge, which had less sugar, no added preservatives, and natural
flavouring to enhance the taste. The swiss rolls were a hit, with many colleagues coming up to him in person to compliment him on the healthy and tasty bakes.
"Most people think that hospital kitchens only provide meals for patients. But our kitchen does more than that. We cater for staff and other special events that happen within the hospital as well. For example, the hospital celebrates festivals like Chinese New Year, Hari Raya Puasa, Deepavali and Christmas too. During these occasions, I have the opportunity to experiment and create pastries that complement the festive meals prepared for hospital events, and are also suitable for patients that are on therapeutic diets with different diet consistencies," he shared.
Chef Quek admits that working in the healthcare industry is not a walk in the park, with large groups of colleagues and patients to bake for, and varying requirements to meet to ensure suitable, quality, and nutritional food. But, the hospital kitchen environment is one he thrives in, and he is glad that he made the decision to join the CGH community.
"I am proud to be part of the CGH family, caring for patients and my fellow colleagues through the pastries that I bake. The hospital is also very supportive of personal upgrading and they encourage continuous learning. I appreciate the opportunities given to me to further my studies and develop my skills in baking and the culinary arts. So, if you’re looking for a job where you can contribute and an organisation that supports training and staff development, CGH is the place for you," he said.
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