This week we catch up with parent Sylvie G., who hails from France and is the ultimate expatriate, having lived in Russia, Thailand, Ukraine, Poland, and Turkey. She has earned the well-deserved badge of Master Baker or pastry extraordinaire, having held baking classes in Istanbul, where she used to be based.
Now living in KL since August 2018, Sylvie is teaching classes for both ISKL MS students and parents and started a baking group that has been busy during the MCO hosting live baking sessions for the PTA. She is the proud mother of two students in Grade 7 and 11 at ISKL.
This is her story.
“It started with me sharing a sample of my baking to the G11 parents’ group chat – and from there that’s how the whole online WhatsApp baking group started. As of today, we have 86 participants on our baking group chat, complete with a terrific Panther Bakes logo.
‘And, just before the lockdown, I saw an email from the MS Director of Activities, Brian Foudy’s email stating the fact that only ISKL members, parents can be part of the student’s After School Activities (ASA). After seeing all of the ASA’s canceled, it just broke my heart, and I offered to teach the MS baking class.
‘I was supposed to hold the class on campus on the same day that the government decided to initiate the Movement Control Order. But then, Brian asked me if I still wanted to hold the class virtually online, to which I responded emphatically yes to. How could I let the kids down who are all at home! I now provide online courses twice a week, and every time we try a new recipe. The MS Baking students are doing a fantastic job; they are talented and ready to bake for their parents.
‘In many ways, having the virtual baking class has acted as a support group during these very unexpected, unique, and difficult times. We, as mothers and wives, are the pillars of the family, and we need to feed our family not only with food but with a strong mentality too. The group helps me to be strong at home – and for this, I can’t thank all the contributors in the group enough. We are all improving our cooking baking skills as well, getting new menus ideas. It is one of the ways how the ‘Lunch with Sylvie” ISKL baking workshop came about.
‘Every day we all look forward to receiving messages, sharing recipes, exchange tips on where to buy ingredients, how to get deliveries, or which restaurants are open for delivery. So much positivity comes out of this. As a moderator, it is important to remind everyone to stay on track and continue to stay upbeat while the MCO is still on.
‘All of this has pushed me further to do what I have always wanted to do: sharing my baking. As I couldn’t copy and paste the recipes for every newcomer on the Whatsapp group, I have created a website called symphoniebysylvie.com, which features all of my recipes and ISKL’s baking’s members too.
‘Speaking for the parent’s baking class, we have done two “Lunch with Sylvie” workshops.
‘The first was quiche with mushroom, quinoa salad with zucchini, spinach, and brioche. The second class had lemon turmeric chicken, green salad with herbs and tomatoes with Asian homemade dressing and pears clafoutis – a special easter dessert with Italian Casatiello bread and chocolate eggs.
‘We have had one cooking disaster so far. While cooking some celery with olive oil for an online class with MS students, I accidentally poured olive oil on the keypad of my computer – this all happened live. The computer surprisingly continued to work – it must surely love olive oil :)!
‘As for the online MS classes, some of the recipes that we have baked are cornflakes cookies, lemon rosemary cookies, Easter chocolates, yogurt cake, chocolate brownies, and healthy apple muffins. As per the student’s request, we have started with savory dishes such as Italian meatballs in tomato sauce. I was a bit scared the meatballs would get burnt as we were cooking them for the first time, but the students were cautious, and the results were fantastic.
‘My two favorite things to bake are ‘Paris-Brest’ – a French dessert, made of choux pastry with praline flavored cream, and lemon meringue tarts. I do like to innovate and try new things like making a triple chocolate cake or perhaps a new type of ganache for Entremets cakes.
‘What I enjoy most about baking are the smiles it brings on everyone’s face when they try one of my cakes. It’s also the sharing, that feeling of accomplishment, like “yes, I did it”! It is quite funny and, at the same time, satisfying that the whole process of baking could take hours to make, and yet all could be eaten or demolished in only a minute”.
‘Community is important – and we are a happy group of active parents who are keeping this group alive with their positive energy.
‘We will overcome the coronavirus, and it will take time. I am pretty sure we will have to change some of our habits to keep ourselves and our planet healthy, but we will get there.”
What does ‘Be All You Are’ mean to you?
‘Be all you are for me means to be what you are already. I am still myself in our baking group – nothing more, nothing less. We wear no masks; we are all genuine people. ISKL is an excellent school with lovely parents – it is a fantastic community, and I love being a part of it. Even though I am a native French, I perceive myself as a citizen of the world, having spent 15 years as an expatriate following my husband around the globe!”
You can catch more of Sylvie and see pictures and live videos of her teaching on Instagram under #symphoniebysylvie or find her recipes together with other ISKL baking parents recipes at www.symphoniebysylvie.com. Bon Appetit!