Jin Patisserie, an upscale pastry boutique and tea garden located in Venice, California, is the quintessential patisserie and a delicious, inspiring haven for those seeking something to satisfy a sweet tooth! Years ago, owner and head pastry chef Kristy Choo decided to leave her career as a flight attendant and pursue her culinary inclinations–and boy are we glad she did! Kristy has created a broad menu for the patisserie, ranging from delicate fruit tarts to green tea tiramisu–and, of course, the vibrant and texturally fun macaron! We had the chance to pick her brain to discover what it’s like running her very own patisserie!
You were born and raised in Singapore and grew up surrounded by the atmosphere of your mother’s food mart. What did you take away from this experience, and how did it influence your choice to pursue pastry, or the culinary arts in general, as a career?
I was brought up in a family where my mom owned a food stall back in Singapore, and my dad was a very good cook as well. Since I was young, I’ve always loved and appreciated good food, though I never really liked to work in the kitchen. In my mid-twenties, during a job where I traveled a lot to Japan, everything just changed as I realized that food was not just food. I realized that it is also a form of art, and that it depends on the chef to create an interesting and delicious dish. I love art, and I love to eat, and this made me realize that it was time for a change in my career. Creating something that is delicious and beautiful to be put on the table for people to taste and enjoy is very satisfying and meaningful for me.
How did the idea to open your own patisserie in Venice come about?
Before I moved to Los Angeles, I was traveling back and forth between L.A. and Singapore. During this transition, I was also working on preparing for my competition for almost a year. Back then I was in the Singapore National Team, and after competing, I told myself I should move on and do something more permanent. At the time, my husband and I moved to L.A. due to his work, and we were staying very close to Venice. I came across Abbot Kinney and grew to like this street a lot as I saw it was very unique. Incidentally, there was a space available for rent, and I took it immediately as I liked the fact that there was an outdoor garden in front of the old house. I opened Jin Patisserie in September 2003, and right now I have 11 employees. The name Jin is my sound-alike Chinese middle name.
What are your favorite sweet artistic mediums to use when creating your delicacies?
I do not like to restrict myself to a certain way or method of doing things. Sometimes I may just do something that is not the usual and find out it is better to just do it in the usual way.
You are living out many people’s dreams over there in beautiful Southern California! What do you like to do for fun?
I don’t have much time for myself, honestly. It is basically work, home, and spending time with my three-year-old son. I definitely love to go out to eat a lot. I don’t go to fancy places, just places with good food. I love the outdoors and the beach, but only if time permits.
Working as a flight attendant, you became intrigued with local cuisine and the individuals you met along the way. How was your culinary eye awakened during this time?
Traveling gives you the opportunity to see different things, and you tend to taste and see things in a different perspective. Just like a chef, it is always good to get out of your usual day-to-day life and experience different cultures, situations, and atmospheres. Each time I travel, I always come back to work with ideas, excitement, and things to experiment with.
You’ve worked in a lot of great places, and you now own your own successful patisserie. What are your goals and aspirations for the future?
We have a lot of loyal and good customers, who I really appreciate and thank for supporting us throughout all these years. I really hope one day I can see Jin situated in different cities. Right now we have customers from Orange County, Monterey Park, and even The Valley. I hope one day I can open stores in these areas to be able to reach out to more customers from these cities.
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