15 minutes with Executive Pastry Chef Wythe Soon

Pastries never fail to brighten anyone’s day. Their beautiful colours, exciting flavours, and versatile creativity have often captivated diners and led us to ponder the magic that happens in the baking room. From butter and dough, to frosting and cream, Executive Pastry Chef Wythe Soon, of the popular La Levain bakery and café, takes us behind the scenes.


, 15 minutes with Executive Pastry Chef Wythe Soon


Could you share with us what really excites you when it comes to making pastries?

It always excites me when we are able to blend Asian and Western flavours or techniques into our artisan bakes. The thought of using new ingredients with traditional or modern baking methods gets me out of bed every day. After all, this is what La Levain is all about – to push the limits with our bakes, using top quality premium ingredients.


We understand that at La Levain, you have been consistently creating new bakes and treats every other week – where do you usually get your inspiration?

My family runs a traditional Chinese bakery and pastry business, so you can say that baking runs in my veins, and many of their recipes serve as a starting point for my artisan bakes. For example, our popular Nian Gao Croissant was baked with my great-grandmother’s nian gao recipe. As a kid, it was so amazing to see the glutinous rice slowly change in colour after an 8-hour steaming process! I wanted to incorporate one of my favourite childhood treats into modern croissants as a tribute to my family and share this part of my family with our customers.


, 15 minutes with Executive Pastry Chef Wythe Soon


Of all your unconventional creations, which one is your favourite so far?

Even though we bake so many unique pastries, I always return to the classic French butter croissant. There’s a desire to get these basics right. It’s a never-ending journey towards perfection.


The flavours at La Levain are also in a league of their own. Could you tell us more about how you put your choice of flavours together?

There are many things to consider. For starters, we consider different flavour profiles and sensations we want to create, then we think about the textures, such as a crispy exterior to complement a soft and creamy filing. Finally, we may consider the natural flavours of the ingredients available to us, and if these can be used to create something special for a specific season such as Easter or Valentine’s Day. I’m very privileged to work with a talented team of bakers who push each other to develop new flavours and are always full of ideas.


, 15 minutes with Executive Pastry Chef Wythe Soon


What new flavours are you currently experimenting with? Any exciting news fans can look forward to?

We’re constantly experimenting with new flavours, and we aim to release a new bake every fortnight. Not many customers know we offer pizza and brunch – we hand-stretch our dough over a long fermentation process to improve the flavour of the crust. Currently, we’re looking to see if we can come up with a Sakura or Japanese Curry Danish to celebrate Japan’s Sakura season. We’ve also just launched the Hojicha Cruffin, Kimchi Danish, Spam Danish, and are looking forward to launching our Hot Cross Buns soon.


What would you say are the core differences between Asian and Western treats?

Asian bakes often have ingredients that are unique to Asia such as red bean, matcha, and coconut, and they tend to use techniques which have been passed across generations. Western pastries, on the other hand, have a stronger emphasis on butter, sugar, buttery textures, and often apply modern, contemporary styles. My team and I are always looking to see how we can blend both to come up with something our diners will love.


, 15 minutes with Executive Pastry Chef Wythe Soon


In order to bake exquisite artisanal treats at home, what are three major tips you would share with our readers?

I’d say use quality ingredients because they have a big impact on the final result, to follow recipes accurately and as closely as possible, and to keep practising. Practice makes perfect, so don’t be afraid to fail. Your bakes will get better as you develop a better feel for the ingredients over time.


To find out more about La Levain and their unique creations, check out their website here.