These days, social media is all about that #foodporn, and Shiberty Bakes is a place that is all about making delectable desserts that are just as visually inspiring as they are decadent.
Blogger-baker, Jessica Loh, manifested her love for baking and making all things look incredibly pretty into a quaint dessert café called Shiberty Bakes. Located along Owen Road, the café has drawn foodies from across the island wanting to taste her sweets and get that perfect Instagram-worthy shot. A little-known fact is that the café’s name is named after a word that Jessica came across on a Harry Potter fan site; we think it’s a brilliant move! With a whimsical name and enchanting desserts, we speak with an affable Jessica on how her culinary journey and what her food fancies are.
What inspired your establishment?
Baking has always been a passion. I don’t think there was someone in particular who inspired me to do what I am doing today, but rather the fact that I put a smile to people’s faces when I see them enjoy my cakes and desserts. That to me, is what leads the drive.
What was the biggest challenge you have had to overcome professionally?
Well, let’s just say that setting up a café isn’t something that you decide to do overnight. There is a lot more to it than what people think there is before you set up a café. I guess the biggest challenge was finding the perfect location for my café. I didn’t want it too out of the way, neither did I want it to be at an area that is congested with human traffic. I had the idea of having something like a quaint café away from town – a place you can chill out with a cuppa in your hand, and a plate of dessert or cake in the other.
What do you believe to be the secret ingredient to a restaurant’s success?
Good food and excellent service. Consistency is important and it has to be recognised. You can’t serve plates of waffles with different consistency – you end up getting all sorts of mixed reviews, especially that social media now plays such an important role in our society. I also constantly remind the staff that good service should always be present. It doesn’t matter that we don’t charge for service charge, but we should always strive to offer good service.
What common misconceptions do people hold about your job? What’s true, what is not?
They think being a baker means standing in an air-conditioned room frosting and designing cakes all day long. That’s not the truth. Spend a day with me and you’ll lose count of the number of times I’m running around like a headless chicken trying to get ingredients and other stuff that are needed. It’s not just a kitchen-bound job.
What is the funniest thing you have read about yourself in the media?
There was a thread on Hardwarezone that recently discussed my café and me. I guess I wasn’t surprised to read all sorts of harsh and negative comments, but I must say it was pretty hilarious reading some comments, which came from people I don’t even know. I guess social media works wonders in its own way.
Singaporean influencers have been incremental in adopting early to a variety of social media platforms. Apart from your website, your brand is also shown on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. How important do you think these platforms are in getting your message across?
Being a blogger just means I’m on every social media platform possible – doing what I do best. Like I mentioned earlier, I feel social media plays a huge part in influencing the society these days, as well as getting the message out. I think that I am blessed with the fact that I was a blogger, so such things didn’t take much effort or understanding.
What is your favourite food in Singapore?
I love local food. On my off days, you can probably spot me hunting my favourite food like chicken rice or bak kut teh. My favourite local dessert is Cheng Tng. Yes, I know I should be saying it’s toast or waffles at my café, but I’m just being plain honest. After all, toast and waffles isn’t really local, right?
A must-try recipe for lazy week night?
Mac and cheese, perhaps. I load it with bacon and a variety of cheese. It’s simple, easy to make and super satisfying!
Which latest trend restaurant do we have to try?
Can I (shamelessly) say Shiberty Bakes?
Do any of your friends or family members influence you in your decision when it comes to what you serve in the restaurant?
I get all sorts of feedback and comments from my friends and family, even my customers and followers. I think it’s important to be able to take constructive feedback positively and work it to your advantage.
What was the funniest / most surprising / best / most gruesome food delivery experience you have had so far?
We had a cupcake order for 400 cupcakes and a couple of hours before the scheduled pick-up, a friend who was helping to transport the cupcakes from the kitchen to the holding area at the café dropped a box of them. We ended up having to re-frost them!
Complete the sentence: On Saturdays, I am most likely to…
Be at the café clearing plates, or in the kitchen helping out with service. Hey, welcome to the F&B world!
What is your biggest dream for the future, and how are you hoping to achieve it?
A brunch place serving my favourite brunch food in a year or two.
Finally, share your very own signature dish and its recipe with us!
I won’t say that there’s a recipe for the food we serve. I believe that with fresh ingredients and with love, everything tastes good! I would share with you our waffle recipe, which has gotten a lot of raves but that just means I will have to make you my personal kitchen slave!
Wani’s writing has always spoken on her behalf far more than the spoken word. Her emotional relationship with food is almost as intense as her crazy love for HIIT workouts. Having written all things lifestyle, Wani now embarks on her freelance journey, journalling her epicurean trails and sweaty gym sessions with relentless fervor.