THE MOST DELICIOUS TRAVEL EXPERIENCE
Our favourite KEK Girls, Satira Diana and Farah Melissa, brought a piece of Malaysia everywhere they went as they explored the sweet streets of Sydney. Follow their decadent journey as told by Satira.
The KEK girls take on Sydney’s sweetest treats.
2017has been a very exciting year for us, the KEK Girls. From making a mark in the international cake scene with our unicorn cake design that went viral globally on social media, to being invited by numerous baking studios and cake companies to host workshops in their respective cities, which included Singapore, Bangkok, Melbourne, Sydney, and Jakarta.
Coincidently, three of the invitations were arranged one week after another in July. We were extremely excited but nervous to leave the rest of the KEK team behind to keep the business running. Nonetheless, opportunities like these don’t come easily, so Farah and I decided to take the risk and go for it! We figured it would also be a good learning experience for the team to hold the fort while we were away.
The ‘KEK Tour’, as we called it, started with a week-long trip to Sydney, Australia. It was winter, not our favourite weather. However, we were game to dress up for the season! Our two-day workshops were set for the weekend, but we decided to fly in earlier to explore the city, its creative spaces and beautiful cafes – primarily on the hunt for good desserts, naturally.
After checking into our apartment at Bondi Junction, we took a bus to Bondi Beach for some grub and to enjoy the winter breeze. It was about 10 degrees, but because of the strong winds, we were freezing! The picturesque sunset – beautiful clear, blue skies and warm hues of pink that accentuated the teal sea – made our time there worthwhile.
We then headed to the city to enjoy some desserts at KOI, a fine-dining dessert bar founded by the Poernomo brothers. Reynold Poernomo, the youngest of four, was crowned the ‘Dessert King’ in Masterchef Australia 2015. Another brother, Arnold, was a judge on MasterChef Indonesia and MasterChef Junior.
KOI is utterly chic and modern, and their desserts simply divine. We had one cake each and licked the plate clean. All the Poernomo brothers were there that night, but we decided to snap a picture with Reynold, because, well, he’s the cutest.
It was a rainy morning and not much sightseeing could be done. We decided to do a little shopping instead at the historic Queen Victoria Building, and grab some macarons from one of our favourite Australian patisseries, Zumbo, founded by Adriano Zumbo, who was famously dubbed the ‘Dark Lord of the Pastry Kitchen’ in Masterchef Australia.
When the rain finally stopped, we took a stroll down the street to the Contemporary Art Museum and, to our delight, stumbled across Angel Place, a street known for being home to an art installation called ‘Forgotten Songs’ designed by Michael Thomas Hill. As you stand underneath the empty birdcages, you’ll hear the chirping of birds that once inhabited Sydney, before the city was built up to what it is today!
Our first proper brunch stop during this trip was at the whimsical and nifty Cuckoo Callay at Newtown. The light staples aren’t just impressive in taste, but also ultra pretty and definitely Instagram-worthy. Their signature magenta palette and Alice in Wonderland vibes echo throughout the interior and on to the food presentation. This is one café we wouldn’t mind coming back to again and again.
Once we were done with our meals, we took a walk around the funky Newtown in search of our next dessert destination, MakMak Macarons – a quaint patisserie by talented Malaysian pastry chef Carlos Heng. Newton has a diverse selection of quirky cafes and, not to mention, an abundance of street art. As we made our way to MakMak, many photo opportunities presented themselves in the form of graffiti.
At MakMak, we were pleased to finally be acquainted with Carlos himself. A lovely and humble person, we had a good time exchanging stories and experiences on the dessert industry in Sydney and Kuala Lumpur. Happy to have made a new friend, we were also so proud to know a Malaysian hustling his way through the very competitive Sydney market, proving himself to be amongst the crème de la crème in macaron-making.
Our O cake workshop host, Clifford Luu of Cakes by Cliff, and our new friend Carlos had mentioned a dessert show, called Sweet Street, that was taking place at the Shangri-La Hotel. Organised by award-winning pastry chef Anna Polyviou, we decided to purchase tickets to this show on a whim, as our last ‘treat’ before work commenced over the weekend. After prepping our workshop at Williams-Sonoma Bondi for our weekend classes the following day, we headed straight to the city for a sweet night out with Anna and her crew.
As we arrived, the music was pumping, the set-up was definitely ‘street’, and we felt like we were entering a music festival. Many popular pâtissieres from Sydney and Melbourne took part in the show, and we were lucky to have met and chatted with some of them, including Nick of popular YouTube show The Scranline and Anna Polyviou herself. On top of that, we got to devour more desserts than our tummy could handle! Being there and observing the Australian dessert community was a good experience – and we garnered many ideas on how to elevate the industry back home.
Days 5 & 6
FinallyFinally, ouro first-ever international cake workshop took place at the Williams-Sonoma Bondi Junction. Quite possibly one of the most beautiful kitchens we have been to, we were so excited to teach there! We were even more pleased to meet our Australian students, who were all extremely lovely and they did a truly remarkable job on their cakes! We were moved by the fact that most of them follow our work religiously on social media and were excited to meet us, too. It was a successful two-day workshop, thanks to our gracious host, Clifford. We hope to go back to Sydney soon.
A flatlay of Nectar & Stone's newly launched book, I'm JustHereforDessert, and MakMak macarons with trinkets we found in Sydney
Decadent desserts at Cuckoo Callay
Gorgeous graffiti works in Newton
The sound of birds chirping echoed around the hanging birdcages at Angel Place Bondi Beach
The sales girl's funky hair matched the colourful array of macarons at Adriano Zumbo's Patisserie kiosk at QVB Mall
Scrumptious lunch at Harry's in Bondi
Desserts at KOI Dessert Bar
Students' work from the Alicorn Cake workshop at Williams-Sonoma Bondi Junction
Quick photo with the students from the Happy Soda cake workshop
Historic Romanesque detailings inside the QVB Mall
Demonstration session during one of the cake workshops in Sydney
Kek Girls with Clifford from Cakes by Cliff