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In the world of pastries, Otta Tay and Loi Ming Ai are superstars. Hailing from Muar and Sibu respectively, the two Malaysians had represented the Malaysia Pastry Team in 2019 at the World Pastry Cup, where they subsequently won.

“Many are unaware of the immense effort we poured into each competition,” the two told Vulcan Post. “Countless hours were spent in the kitchen, toiling away on our showpieces and engaging in tireless research and development.”

Image Credit: Voilà Patisserie

They shared that there were moments when they worked into the late hours of the night, fuelled by nothing but passion and determination.

“Never give up” became a mantra between the pastry chefs, driving them forward even when the challenges seemed insurmountable.

“Our journey was a testament to the sheer grit and resilience demanded by the world of competitive pastry-making,” they said.

And now, they’ve brought that grit and resilience from the competitive stage and applied it to their business, Voilà Patisserie.

From champions to entrepreneurs

“Typically, our friends, families, and supporters can only admire our creations showcased during live competitions or through social media posts, without the opportunity to taste them,” Otto and Loi explained.

To change this, they came together with another business partner and co-founder, Janice, to establish their own brand, sharing their culinary creations with people beyond the competition arena.

Prior to Voilà, both Otto and Loi have experienced entrepreneurship through their own consultancy companies. In fact, Loi also founded Qiao Chocolate Lab, which specialises in creating chocolate decorations for B2B clients such as hotels and restaurants.

Image Credit: Voilà Patisserie

But for both chefs, Voilà would be considered their first brand for consumers to enjoy and taste their creations.

“At Voilà Patisserie, we specialise in French pastry with a touch of local ingredients, blending the best of both worlds,” they shared.

Aside from offering the general public a taste of their pastries, Otto and Loi also impart their knowledge through Voilà with masterclasses and workshops for baking enthusiasts.

The chefs shared that roughly 60% of their revenue comes from retail sales and wholesales, while their workshops generate approximately 40%.

“Both segments play vital roles in our business, with retail providing consistent revenue and workshops fostering customer engagement and brand loyalty,” they said.

Developing the industry

Since the inception of Voilà Patisserie, the chefs’ baking and business philosophies have somewhat evolved.

“Initially, our focus was primarily on creating exceptional pastries that showcased our skills and creativity,” they stated. “However, as we delved deeper into the business world, we realised the importance of balancing innovation with consistency and customer satisfaction.”

Image Credit: Voilà Patisserie

While staying true to their core, the team has now become more attuned to the needs and preferences of their clientele. They’ve also adopted a more strategic and collaborative mindset, learning the value of effective teamwork and transparent communication.  

A big challenge that the chefs still face, though, is in educating the market about their products’ premium price point.

“French pastries are complex, with intricate layers and rich flavours that often rely on high-quality ingredients and labour-intensive techniques, which may not be immediately apparent to consumers,” they explained.

Educating the public is something they cannot do alone, though. Rather, it takes a whole community. And thankfully, Malaysia’s pastry community has been growing over the years.

“Competition is steep, but every chef brings their own specialty and uniqueness to the table,” the chefs said. “We believe that the more competition we have, the better the market becomes, as the standards of pastries continue to rise.”

Image Credit: Voilà Patisserie

And this ultimately benefits everyone involved, as the quality of pastries becomes increasingly refined customers have more options to choose from.

True to that, since entering the industry, Otto and Loi said they’ve witnessed notable changes in Malaysia’s patisserie scene. Specifically, they’ve seen an uptick in quality, innovation, and consumer appreciation.

“Our participation in competitions and success on the global stage have also helped elevate Malaysia’s pastry reputation,” they mentioned. “While the industry has improved overall, we believe there’s still room for growth.”

Baking up new plans

To further develop the local pastry landscape, the team has ambitious plans to launch of a full-time academy programme in June.

Additionally, they revealed to Vulcan Post that they’ll be having a groundbreaking collaboration with a new space, introducing an entirely new signature menu that promises to “redefine culinary experiences”. This venture is set to debut in July.

Image Credit: Voilà Patisserie

Later this year in October, Chef Loi will also be leading the Malaysia team to the Asian Pastry Cup, with the goal of securing the golden ticket for the World Pastry Cup in 2025 at Lyon, France.

“We are incredibly excited about this opportunity to showcase Malaysia’s pastry talent on the global stage and to nurture new rising stars for our country,” they said. “Let’s aim for gold and bring it home together!”

  • Learn more about Voilà Patisserie here.
  • Read other articles we’ve written about Malaysian startups here.

Featured Image: Voilà Patisserie

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Vulcan Post aims to be the knowledge hub of Singapore and Malaysia.

© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)