Caffe Pralet - Match Made in Culinary Heaven
Words by Hoe Ziqian

Celebrating International Coffee Day with Caffe Pralet

Established in 2006 by Creative Culinaire, Caffe Pralet was intended to be the creative showcase of the work of Creative Culinaire. The founder, Principal Chef Judy Koh, wanted to convey the philosophy of Creative Culinaire Academy through the Caffe Pralet menu as she felt that it was the most sincere form of validation.

Manned by a café manager and two staff, Caffe Pralet is a young and vibrant team. Each team member is well trained in the art of coffee and sandwich making to ensure fluidity in the daily operations. The team takes great pride in using only fresh, wholesome ingredients and authentic techniques in all their products.

Timothy Chia, who has honed his pastry and culinary skills in Caffe Pralet as Head Chef for more than 10 years, has a life-long passion to share his love for both baking and cooking. More than just a chef, Timothy also designs culinary experiences, incorporate his artistic skills with his culinary prowess in his culinary classes, private dining sessions, consultancy and team building events.

When Caffe Pralet was first conceived, the team curated a list of food products that showed off the cooking and baking techniques taught to students of Creative Culinaire Academy. But over time, the team has adapted to consumer trends and shifted its focus to selling mainly sandwiches.

 

Finding that Perfect Match

Walk into Caffe Pralet on any given day, you would be treated to a wide array of flavour-packed sammies, fresh sourdoughs, viennoiseries and delicate pastries. To top it all off, you can pair them with specially curated teas and coffee for the complete culinary experience.

Caffe Pralet goes through a meticulous process in training its employees to ensure that customers get the best recommendations when it comes to their coffee pairing

Intrigued by how to select the best coffee pairing to go with your food? Here are some suggested pairings from the Caffe Pralet team to guide you on your way.

Heavy and Heavy Pairing
Signature Pralet (chocolatey): Complements iced coffee with a dark and nutty profile.

Adventurous Pairing (Salty and Sweet)
Beef’In Cheese’In / Magic Mushrooms Sandwiches (hearty, heavy, salty): Complements coffee with a bold and sweet profile

Light, Simple Pairing
Wholemeal croissants (crumbly, warm): Hot long black would be the ideal companion

 

Singular Focus on Quality

While Caffe Pralet believes in serving food made from the best ingredients, the reality today is that the cost of raw ingredients has been on a constant rise. The challenge for the team is to find the balance between profitability and its obsession with wholesome ingredients and authentic techniques.

The team has persevered to maintain its profit margins by sourcing for alternative products that will not affect the taste of the end product. If that is not possible, Caffe Pralet tends to absorb the additional cost burden most of the time so that its customers do not have to. It is always a painful decision to take, but at the end of the day, product quality is paramount.  

 

Partnership with e2i

With the support from e2i, Caffe Pralet has been able to send its staff for training courses that better prepare them for the challenges ahead. The team also hopes that through the interaction with other local businesses, its employees are able to take away some key lessons that would hopefully translate into improvements for Caffe Pralet and its operations. There is a strong camaraderie in the local food and beverage community and that can only help to uplift the industry as a whole.

Caffe Pralet has also collaborated with e2i on the Career Conversion Program or CCP, where the grant essentially absorbs part of the cost of hiring. The program allows companies to customise the onboarding of their new hires, even if they are making the switch from unrelated industries.

Tracy, who was previously a secondary school teacher, joined Creative Culinaire as a Course Manager through the CCP route. Despite not having any prior experience in this industry, she feels that her skills as an educator are highly transferable to her new role and looks forward to expanding her knowledge in designing and re-imagining teaching and learning in a baking and cooking school context. Outside of her main job scope of designing training courses for Creative Culinaire, Tracy also doubles up as the café manager of Caffe Pralet.

Tracy overcame the struggle of adapting to a new industry through the structured onboarding program under the Career Conversion Program

With no prior knowledge of the food and beverage industry, Tracy relied on a structured onboarding program and the mentorship of Chef Timothy Chia. With more than 10 years in the industry, Chef Timothy took Tracy under his wing and shared his knowledge of baking with her as well as valuable insights into the food and beverage industry as a whole. This gave Tracy the jumpstart that she needed in seemingly unfamiliar settings. 

The combination of mentorship and external training courses is key to bridging the experience and skill gap. Creative Culinaire arranged for Tracy to attend a series of external courses to improve her knowledge and ability to run a cafe. Other than honing her basics on bread making and coffee brewing, Tracy also got to appreciate the whole dining experience from the lens of a consumer through the Certified F&B Mystery Judge (CFMJ) coursework. This all-rounded approach has been vital to her adaptation to her new role.

As all new hires are required to go through the structured program as part of the CCP requirements, employers like Creative Culinaire and Caffe Pralet can be assured of the quality and consistency when onboarding their employees.

 

Embracing Worker 4.0

The work at Caffe Pralet revolves around two key skill pillars of the Worker 4.0 framework.

In terms of Technical skills, the Caffe Pralet team has been trained to have a deeper understanding of the coffee machine and how it works. When its employees learn to appreciate the extraction process and the intricacies of frothing the milk and latte art, there is a deeper understanding of how the entire process connects together and presents itself as a warm cup of coffee. The basic things are often the hardest to master, but the Caffe Team is invariably obsessed with fundamentals.

The Adaptive skillset is almost a given for all food and beverage operators. We live in a fickle world these days and the challenge has always been to stay ahead of new trends and consumer preferences. If businesses are able to adapt quickly to the taste and preferences of their customers, they are more likely to stay ahead of their competitors.

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