A Life in the Day of: Fadli Halim
Fadli Halimis a 29-year-old Malaysian student of the patisserie course in Le Cordon Bleu, London. He is studying to become a professional pastry chef to expand his bakery and cake designing business.
“I wake up at 6 am on days that I have an early class. I hate waking up that early in London especially during this time of the year because of the freezing cold weather. It makes staying in bed a more likeable option. I leave my house by 7 am and head for the tube to go into the city. When I first arrived in London, I was amazed by how efficient the transportation system is. Busses and trains actually arrive on time, which is a luxury if that ever happened in Malaysia. Looking at the news on television about Londoners complaining of the transport system here makes me think ‘You Londoners should come to Kuala Lumpur and experience our system – or the lack of it.’
In class, I pay more attention to the French chefs compared to the English ones. Not that one is better than the other but, the French are more passionate when it comes to talking about pastries and chocolates. After all, pastries, breads and chocolates have a long history in France and it is fascinating to hear some of the French chefs reminiscing about the old days when they used to bake in wooden stoves in their little houses in the villages of France. It is comforting and heart-warming to hear the stories which is what I aim to create with my cakes and desserts.
When I was a child I used to play with clay models and would create things like cars, houses, flowers and buildings. Then I grew older and I found out I could do this with sugar and flour. What’s more fascinating is that these creations are edible!
Interestingly, at school, we are all given a set of knives to work with ans we were told that the knives were extremely sharp. I didn’t give much thought about the knives until I heard about a girl who almost lost a finger from what would be a slight cut from a normal house kitchen knife. She had to quit the course because she couldn’t perform without the full use of her fingers. I find that my fingers are my most prized and valuable body part. I always tell people that I may not be as intelligent as you want me to be, but when it comes to utilising my fingers, I’m a master at that. That’s why besides cake designing, I’m also a guitarist for a local band.
Classes usually last until 6 in the evening and sunset times vary in London. In Malaysia, you get sunset at about the same time everyday and we get equal hours of daylight and night time. Over here, I learnt about the term ‘winter depression’ as the nights are longer and very cold. To avoid this, I spend time in my kitchen by making pastries and chocolates or trying out new cooking recipes. I miss the creative process of designing a cake though. The most bizarre request I ever got from a client was to design a 5-ft cake shaped into a Moroccan-themed dome-like monument for his parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. I took a drive around Kuala Lumpur and studied the design of mosques to do that one and it was particularly challenging. I spent a whole week to complete that cake but I always love a challenge. My dream is to create a high-heeled woman’s shoe-shaped cake.
At 9 pm, I’m already sleepy from the activities of the day but I believe it’s because of the cold temperature here too. Back in Kuala Lumpur, I usually finish the day by jamming with my guitar and my band. This is such a stress reliever for my fingers after a day of moulding and creating intricate shapes for my cakes. Yes, I take particular care of my fingers and cannot imagine living without full use of them.”