Finding Chocolatier

Indonesia is the third largest cacao producer in the world, however, finding a proper chocolatier is surprisingly challenging, until we find Pipit Yulianti.

The Chocolate Issue started with a discussion with Benty Diwansyah, PT. Nirwana Lestari’s (Tulip Chocolate distributor) Corporate Pastry Chef in the past event Chocotober. When we asked about the recommendation for young chocolatiers in Indonesia, he wondered for quite a while, “In Indonesia we have many patissiers, but there’s so few chocolatier,” he said. Among all of the candidates, we believe Pipit Yulianti, Tulip Chocolate’s Chocolatier, is one of Indonesia’s best young chocolatiers.

How did your affair with pastry begin?

I was studying in the Faculty of Product Design in Universitas Pelita Harapan. I picked the major because we often involved in making products in workshop hands-on, but after a year or two, the products were mostly designed with computer’s software. I didn’t really like it because it wasn’t hands-on. When the final assignment approached, a friend took me to her house to help her make chocolate gateaux and cheese cake. I instantly fell in love because basically, I love anything hands-on. After graduated, I decided to study Pastry in Shatec, Singapore, this were 2 completely different majors.

I’m pretty sure your mother lectured you about this.
Absolutely, According to her, what’s the point of taking a completely different subject after finishing another?

Tell us about your work experience.

After graduated from Shatec, I was doing internship in Raffles Hotel, Singapore, which had 13 F&B outlets, ranging from semi fine dining, café, buffet, function, and restaurant. A little bit too many I know, a hotel usually has around 7 F&B outlets, meanwhile, the pastry department, which consisted of 25 staffs, had to supply pastry products to whole outlets.
Here, I fell in love with chocolate because of 2 things: the first one, The Pastry Chef worked in chocolate company before, so everybody who worked under him had the chance to learn much about chocolate and witnessed varieties of chocolate products which got me thinking, “there’s so much to learn about in chocolate.” The second one, our chocolatier was able to make chocolate products and showpieces very finely. After working hour, I stayed behind to learn from this chocolatier.
From there, before moving to Tulip Chocolate, I was working for SATS, an airlines catering company which provides pastry products to Singapore Airlines, and any airlines that come to Singapore and need catering service. In here, I have even more product varieties because we handled airlines from many countries with demands from different types of people, from kosher, vegetarian, gluten-free, diabetes products, to traditional food from various countries.

How does Product Design and chocolate relate to each other?

They are related, because in the end, each time we create new pastry product, we need the design. The similar thing between them is in the presentation process, how to make appealing and beautiful products, with nice texture. However, the difference is obvious: in chocolate we can play with flavors, that’s the most interesting part. I’ve been a food fan for a long time, but I never expect to have career in this field.

In your name card, your position is “Chocolatier”, we’d like to know your daily activities.

I am responsible as Tulip Chocolate’s Technical Support for Asia Pacific. Most of the times, I am involved in developing products Our customers are Tulip’s distributors in Asia Pacific region, each of the distributor has its own clients from café, hotel, and industry, as a result, we need different approaches for each market. Our target market is mainly horeca (hotel, restaurant, café). I travel around to do demos to show the proper way to make products, showing the common mistakes, showing the proper working and storage procedure, the chocolate tempering process, etc.
Of course you’re familiar with the trend of each country in Asia Pacific.
Every country has its own influence. Take Philippines as example, it’s heavily influenced by American products; meanwhile, China and Vietnam have the tendency to use the more stable non-dairy cream to decorate the cakes. Korea and Japan were heavily influenced by French’s approach, simpler, smaller, individual cakes. Every country has its own style, even for the same country, the trend for café and hotel is already different.
In Indonesia, I see that our customers prefer something classic. For example, in a cake shop that offer varieties of cake, the majority of customer tend to choose something familiar, such as black forest or cheese cake. They love seeing interesting new cakes, but they don’t buy those, they tend to play safe and don’t like anything too “alien”.
However, I notice some satisfying pastry development in the past few years, as we have more cake variants. In addition, we have more customers who are willing to pay as much as Rp 80.000 for a slice of cake. I understand, the food cost for those styles of cakes is expensive; the availability of the ingredients is the main cause, even for basic ingredients such as pectin and puree. In Singapore, these kind of ingredients are always available. The scarcity makes the selling price very high, it might take time to introduce more cake variants in Indonesia.

How do you compare the use of real chocolate between Indonesia and Singapore?

In Singapore, I never use compound. In fact, when I returned to Indonesia, I was clueless, “what is compound?” I didn’t know about real chocolate and compound because we were never taught there are 2 kinds of chocolate, we only knew real chocolate. Frankly, In the beginning I was quite confused of the compound’s behavior: it doesn’t need to be tempered, and then about the melting point.

You joined many competitions, right?
I started to compete in 2013 Food Hotel Indonesia (FHI), where I managed to win and get the Gold Medal in Petit Fours and Pralines. I also had to make showpiece, but I prefer to make something I can eat, I’m more passionate into flavor. In 2017 Top Patissier Asia, I represented Indonesia to compete in Shanghai. It was the first time I worked with sugar (showpiece). There are so much knowledge in sugar, when I have the chance to learn something new, I always said to myself, “why not?”

From your activities, from demo, developing products, and competition, which one is your favorite?

Anything that involves eating. I always present something that I believe is delicious, however other people won’t always agree. When people are able to fell what I feel, and enjoy my creations, I think that’s the most satisfying job. It’s my goal, of course presentation is crucial, but it’s food, flavor is the core of what I’m trying to communicate.

How do you describe your signature flavor?

In the past 2-3 years, I love experimenting with tea, simply because I’m a tea lover. It reached to a point where people complain, “Pipit always make tea flavored praline, can’t she make anything else?” The problem is, what I love usually influence the things I make. I know I need to keep exploring new flavor to gain new knowledge.
Lately, I’m more into exploring Indonesian’s local flavor. I had a concept of incorporating Klappertart flavor. I deconstructed all the elements in the Klappertart: custard, rhum, raisin, cinnamon, young coconut, meringue, and started to make something different out of them to “elevate” the flavor. For this 2018 competition preparation, I’m currently experimenting with black glutinous rice and avocado. Because it will be an international competition, I have to combine common ingredient with the exotic ones. Everybody knows avocado, but black glutinous rice? Not necessarily. But of course, I avoid flavors that are too “alien”. If I make anything with durian, it would be suicidal.