Pang Kok Keong

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Pang Kok Keong
Pang Kok Keong pastry chef.png
Born1975
EducationDiploma in Food Preparation
Alma materRulang Primary School, Yuhua Secondary School, Singapore Hotel and Tourism Education Centre (SHATEC)
OccupationPastry Chef, Chef, Entrepreneur
Known forCanelé by Les Amis (defunct), Antoinette, Pang's Hakka Delights
Spouse(s)Vickie Ong (m. 2006)

Pang Kok Keong (born 1975) is the chef-owner of Antoinette, a home-grown Parisian-style pâtisserie, restaurant and salon du thé (french for the tea house) that features French cuisine and pastries. The dishes offered are made from a combination of traditional French techniques and modern cooking methods. He is also the owner of Sugar Daddy Group.[1] With a passion to be the best, Kok Keong draws on childhood experiences and other stimuli for inspiration to create innovative dishes.[2]

Personal life[edit | edit source]

Kok Keong's wedding cake. Photo from his Facebook.

Pang Kok Keong's family[edit | edit source]

Kok Keong’s parents are fishball noodles hawkers[3] who owned a stall in Jurong.[4] He grew up helping his mother in the kitchen. As a teenager, Kok Keong worked part-time jobs in coffee shops and restaurants to earn pocket money.[5]


Kok Keong is married to Vickie Ong, a freelance makeup artist.[6] They met when he was working at the now-defunct Chocolat cafe in Gemmill Lane. Vickie worked in a bridal studio nearby.[7] Kok Keong courted Vickie by letting her try his new cakes.[8] They were married in 2006 at The Lawn of Raffles Hotel, where he prepared the dessert spread and baked their seven-tiered wedding cake that stood at 1.7 metres tall and weighed more than 100kg.[9][10] The cake had an edible violet flower and raspberry marmalade base.[11]


The couple has three children - two daughters, aged ten and nine, and a son, aged four (as of 2019).[12] Kok Keong and his family live in a maisonette apartment in Hougang with his in-laws.[13]

Background[edit | edit source]

Kok Keong studied in Rulang Primary School and Yuhua Secondary School.[14] He enrolled in the Singapore Hotel and Tourism Education Centre (SHATEC) at 16 years old[15] and graduated with a diploma in food preparation in 1996.[16]


Kok Keong was said to have a “maverick past”, with “spiky hair, five earrings and a house music CD collection”.[17] During his teenage years, Kok Keong and his friends installed skateboard ramps in his neighbourhood badminton hall for them to ride on.[18] Even during his stint with Bakerzin, Daniel Tay remarked that Kok Keong had “funky dressing with earrings, and chains on his pants” and he “wasn't sure if [he] could take [Kok Keong] seriously".[19]

Early career[edit | edit source]

Kok Keong (far right) learnt under Daniel (far left) during his years as a budding chef. Photo from Young Upstarts.

Kok Keong found his calling in pastry-making during a work attachment at the now-defunct Imperial Hotel[20] where he was assigned to the pastry section due to a lack of manpower.[21]

Bakerzin attachment (under Daniel Tay)[edit | edit source]

After completing several stints at various restaurants, Kok Keong joined Bakerzin which was then known as Baker’s Inn. At the time, Baker’s Inn was one of the biggest patisserie chains in Singapore and one of the first standalone patisseries to do French-style cakes.[22] In a 2014 interview, Kok Keong shared that he took a S$400 pay cut to learn “real cake-making” by working with Bakerzin’s founder Daniel Tay.[23] Daniel has remarked that Kok Keong had “a great attitude” towards learning and “has an amazing palate and skill”.[24] At the time, Daniel only had to “remind [Kok Keong] not to over-create and make sure his artistic cakes are acceptable for the market”.[25]

Hotels[edit | edit source]

After leaving Bakers Inn, Kok Keong worked at renowned hotels in Singapore like the Ritz-Carlton Millenia and Hilton.[26][27] He set his sights on joining the Les Amis Group in hopes of setting up a patisserie. However, his proposal had been rejected several times by Les Amis Chairman Desmond Lim.[28] Despite the initial rejection, Kok Keong persevered and eventually joined Les Amis Group which led to the opening of Canelé.[29]


Kok Keong was also the pastry consultant to the Diamond Hotel, creating a dessert called “Dessert Couture” for The Cake Club.[30]

Canelé by Les Amis Group (2004 - 2010)[edit | edit source]

The interior of the Canelé outlet at Paragon. Photo from The Straits Times.

Canelé opening (2004)[edit | edit source]

Kok Keong joined Les Amis in 2004 as an Executive Pastry Chef. He set up Canelé Pâtisserie Chocolaterie, a French pâtisserie, with its first outlet at Robertson Walk. Canelé was a hit with its stylish decor, its yearly collection of fine French cakes and perfect macarons.[31]


Kok Keong opened two more Canelé outlets - one at Esprit in Centrepoint and one at Paragon. The Paragon outlet was designed by architect Tan Kay Ngee and featured dark chocolate tones with an eye-catching frontage starring a mountain of macaroons and an elaborate wedding cake.[32] Kok Keong shared that Les Amis intended to make Canelé a designer pastry boutique concept that can grow regionally and internationally.[33]

Dishes at Canelé[edit | edit source]

Canelé gave its customers the “designer boutique experience” while keeping prices affordable. Every year, Kok Keong created a new collection of cakes with special creations for occasions like Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Easter, Christmas, Chinese New Year and the Mid-Autumn Festival.[34]


For Canele’s first anniversary in 2004, Kok Keong created the ‘Chocolate Bomb’, a ball-like chocolate shell that encased dark chocolate mousse, custard, little chocolate pearls and French almond cake.[35] During his stint at Canelé, Kok Keong also created a range of confitures (a type of jam) with flavours like Banana Chocolate, Vanilla Chestnut, Pineapple With Vanilla And Rosemary, Rhubarb And Apple With Beer and Honey Apricot.[36]

Canelé closure (2014)[edit | edit source]

Kok Keong left Canelé in September 2010, sharing that it was “the most heart-breaking move for him”.[37] He left Canelé to “create a place like Antoinette” which he was unable to do so while at Canelé. Canelé closed its last outlet at Shaw House in August 2014.[38]

Founder of Antoinette (2011 - present)[edit | edit source]

The interior seating area of Antoinette. Photo from Quandoo.
Antoinette's La Rose cake. Photo from their Facebook page.

Antoinette opening[edit | edit source]

Kok Keong opened Antoinette in 2011.[39] Antoinette specializes in fine French cuisine that pays homage to the extravagant style of Marie Antoinette, the last Queen of France. It was also Kok Keong’s take on the famed luxury-patisserie Laduree in Paris.[40] As Kok Keong wanted Antoinette to have a strong French feel, the restaurant’s decor, products and menu have continuously strong French influences despite changes in the menu and products over the years.[41] Through Antoinette, Kok Keong wanted to create “a brand that will age well”.[42] At the time, such a patisserie did not yet exist in Singapore.[43]

Antoinette outlets in Singapore[edit | edit source]

Antoinette’s first outlet opened in 2011 at 30 Penhas Road. A second outlet opened in Mandarin Gallery in the same year.[44] In September 2015, another outlet opened at Sofitel So Singapore at Robinson Road.[45] The Mandarin Gallery outlet has been relocated to Millenia Walk in July 2019.[46]

Dishes at Antoinette[edit | edit source]

Antoinette’s dishes are known for their attention to detail and the lavish feel with every bite. Some of Antoinette’s cakes are even dusted with edible gold.[47]


One of the most lavish cakes that Antoinette offers is La Rose, a cake shaped like a fresh rose in bloom. The cake was launched in conjunction with Valentine’s Day 2017. Each petal is hand-piped so that it has a natural flow. The cake combines sweet, sour and bitter flavours to remind diners of the many notes of romance. The cake is made up of dark chocolate, caramel, layers of chocolate cake, almond nougatine and grand marnier.[48]


Kok Keong also incorporates Hakka elements into his dishes at Antoinette. Such experimentation was one way for Kok Keong to find a balance between innovation and staying true to tradition.[49] One such dish is the Hakka Gnocchi, which features root vegetable dumplings formed with tapioca starch and then sautéed with a mixture of sausage-like cured pork and morels. It is then layered with white wine and topped with foie gras beurre monté.[50]

Founder of Pang's Hakka Delicacies (2018 - present)[edit | edit source]

The Hakka Abacus Seeds dish by Pang's Hakka Delicacies. Photo from their Facebook page.

Kok Keong set up Pang’s Hakka Delights in 2018 as a way to revisit his Hakka roots. Kok Keong cited leek kueh as a childhood dish made by his mother, who learned the recipe from her grandmother.[51] When learning to make the dish, Kok Keong mentioned that he had to learn it from memory, tasting the dish as he goes.[52]


Moreover, the flavours are not easily replicated. Kok Keong wanted to safeguard the legacy of Hakka dishes through this business venture.[53] He found that these recipes were rarely documented. This project was a way of documenting Hakka cuisine for the younger generation. Kok Keong has tested various Hakka recipes like salt-baked chicken, yellow ginger poached chicken, and mei cai kou rou (pork belly with preserved mustard greens).[54]

Pang's Hakka Delicacies reception[edit | edit source]

In 2018, he launched a one-item menu selling abacus seeds, a famous Hakka dish commonly consumed during Chinese New Year. The dish was available for pick up at the alley behind Antoinette.[55]


Kok Keong shared that it was initially difficult to convince his colleagues to accept his passion for making Hakka food, as it was a labour-intensive process.[56] However, Hakka dishes were rare and Kok Keong’s creations gained popularity. The production crew created “up to 20kg of abacus seed and up to 400 kueh on a weekend”.[57]

Other career highlights[edit | edit source]

Co-founder of Sugar Daddy Group (2010 - present)[edit | edit source]

Kok Keong co-founded Sugar Daddy Group in November 2010 with two partners.[58] Kok Keong is the driving force behind the brand and holds 33.3% of the shares. In 2012, Mr Clovis Lim, one of the partners sold his shares for a seven-figure sum.[59] The company was then restructured and Kok Keong was made the Chief Operating Officer. He was previously the Chief Executive Officer.[60]

Founder of Pique Nique (2011 - 2016)[edit | edit source]

Pique Nique was an American-style bakery-cum-bistro that was opened on 24 May 2011 at Ngee Ann City. Menu items included whoopee fries, mac-and-cheese and an all-day breakfast.[61] Whoopie pies - round sponge-cake sandwiches about the size of macarons with creamy centres - were also offered in flavours such as maple walnut, red velvet and chocolate with marshmallow cream.[62] Pique Nique’s signature drink was hot chocolate with marshmallow ‘clouds’. Pique Nique was closed in 2016 after its lease at Ngee Ann City expired.

Charity work[edit | edit source]

Kok Keong (far right) performed as a drummer for the all-chef band 'The Munchies' at a 2012 charity concert. Photo from Yahoo! Singapore.

Fiji Water Rockstar Chefs Charity Concert (2012)[edit | edit source]

Kok Keong also participated in the ‘Fiji Water Rockstar Chefs Charity Concert’ held at the Hard Rock Cafe in Resorts World Sentosa in 2012.[63] He performed as part of ‘The Munchies’, alongside Mr Christian Bruhns, the Executive Chef at the St Regis Singapore and Mr Dan Segall, the former Executive Chef at Ku De Ta.[64]


The event raised funds for The Business Times’ Budding Artists Fund and the proceeds went to The Little Arts Academy, an outreach and education initiative by The Arts House.[65]

Chefs for A Cause (2009 - 2019)[edit | edit source]

Kok Keong has participated in every edition of ‘Chefs for A Cause’ since its inception in 2009.[66] Chefs for A Cause is an event organised by the South East Community Development Council to raise funds for underprivileged children. In the 2019 edition of 'Chefs for A Cause', Kok Keong served Crème Brulee Souffle Pancakes[67] and the event raised S$16,800 in proceeds.[68]

Notable events[edit | edit source]

Pang Kok Keong created Hakka Vegetable Kueh for Kueh Appreciation Day 2016. Photo from The Peak Magazine.

Kueh Appreciation Day (2016 - 2019)[edit | edit source]

In 2016, 2017 and 2019, Kok Keong participated in ‘Kueh Appreciation Day’ alongside Daniel Tay from Old Seng Choong.[69] The event was organised by Slow Food Singapore and held in conjunction with the Singapore Food Festival. It was held at the ToTT Store at Dunearn Road. Kok Keong introduced traditional Hakka snacks such as steamed vegetable kueh, leek kueh and abacus seeds at the event.[70]

Buro Singapore's Chef at Home (2019)[edit | edit source]

In November 2019, Kok Keong was featured in Buro Singapore’s video segment called “Chefs at Home”. Kok Keong shares with the audience that he cooks every Sunday if time permits. He also demonstrated a recipe for Cantonese rice soup.[71]

The Inspired Chef collaboration (2013)[edit | edit source]

In 2013, Kok Keong, along with Janice Wong, Daniel Tay and Willin Low collaborated with The Inspired Chef to create four different flavours of ice cream inspired by their childhood. Kok Keong’s flavour, ‘Raspberry Cheesecake Rumble’ was inspired by his love for cheesecake that came from his stint at Hilton Singapore.[72]

Shatec Institute's 30th anniversary (2013)[edit | edit source]

In 2013, Kok Keong participated in Shatec Institutes’ 30th-anniversary events. Kok Keong prepared dishes for an anniversary set dinner held at Recipes, the institute’s training restaurant at The Treasury and a gala dinner hosted at the Shangri-La Hotel Singapore. He served his original dessert called ‘Rouge’ which he had created for the 2008 Asian Pastry Cup. The Singapore team emerged champions at this competition.[73] The dessert’s spherical shape signified Shatec coming full circle and the red colouring symbolized an auspicious colour for the event.[74]

FHA Salon Culinaire International (2000)[edit | edit source]

Kok Keong was also a participant for the FHA Salon Culinaire International in 2000.[75]

Awards & accolades[76][edit | edit source]

Kok Keong has been participating in pastry competitions since 1996. These competitions were an outlet for his creativity.[77] In 1997, Kok Keong received the Employee of the Month Award for the month of December by Dynasty Hotel Kuala Lumpur.[78] In 2011, Kok Keong was inducted into the Pastry Chef Hall of Fame and is the youngest to receive such an honour.[79]

Timeline of awards[edit | edit source]

Year Event Award Notes Refs.
2018 Shatec Industry Excellence (SHINE) Awards Outstanding Alumni Award (Pastry) - [80][81]
2013 World Pastry Cup Singapore National Pastry Team (Team Manager, Coach) Singapore ranked 6th out of 22 competitors [82]
2011 World Pastry Cup Singapore National Pastry Team (Team Manager, Coach) Singapore ranked 7th out of 22 competitors [83]
2010 - 2011 Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie, World Pastry Cup (Lyon, France) Singapore National Pastry Team (Team Manager, Coach) - -
2010 World Gourmet Summit (Singapore) PCB Pastry Chef of the Year - -
2009 - 2010 Asian Pastry Cup (Singapore) Singapore National Pastry Team (Team Manager, Coach) Singapore was the Champion

Best Chocolate Showpiece Award

Best Media Tasting Prize

-
2009 World Gourmet Summit (Singapore) PCB Pastry Chef of the Year - -
2008 - 2009 Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie, World Pastry Cup (Lyon, France) Team Manager, Promotion Manager, Coach

Singapore National Pastry Team

Singapore ranked 10th out of 22 competitors -
2008 World Gourmet Summit 2008 Finalist for Cacao Barry Pastry Chef of the Year - -
Asian Pastry Cup (Singapore) Singapore National Pastry Team (Team Manager, Coach) Singapore was the Champion

Best Chocolate Cake Award

Best Media Tasting Prize

-
2007 World Gourmet Summit 2007 Cacao Barry Pastry Chef of the Year - -
2006 Food and Hotel Asia, Culinary Challenge, National Team Category Singapore National Culinary Team – (Team Pastry Chef) Gold medal in Hot Cooking

Gold medal in Cold Display

Best National Team Award

Best Pastry Award

Best Hot Cooking Award

Best Cold Display Award

-
Hospitality Asia Platinum Awards Best Pastry Chef Finalist -
World Gourmet Summit 2006 Cacao Barry Pastry Chef of the Year Finalist -
2005 World Gourmet Summit 2005 Cacao Barry Pastry Chef of the Year Finalist -
Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie, World Pastry Cup (Lyon, France) Singapore National Pastry Team (Team Captain) Singapore ranked 11th out of 19 countries -
2004 FHA Culinary Championship (Singapore) Singapore Chef Association Culinary Team (Team Pastry Chef) Gold with distinction for desserts, Silver Medal overall -
2003 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Singapore National Culinary Team (Team Pastry Chef) Bronze medal in 6 Plated dessert

Silver medal in Confectionery

-
2002 FHA 2002 (Singapore) Singapore National Culinary Team, Assistant Pastry Chef - -
Expogast 2002 (Luxemburg) Singapore National Culinary Team, Pastry assistant - -
2000 - Diploma, awarded by Chef Francisco Torreblanca (member of Relais Dessert International) - -
1996 FHA, Salon Culinaire International 1996 Bronze medal in 6 Plated Dessert - -

Reference / Citations[edit | edit source]

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