Singaporean immigrant opens a dessert workroom in Taiwan, passing down his grandpa’s everlasting spirit

Singaporean immigrant Liu Ming Kai set up a dessert workroom – Ah Bee Cakery in Taiwan. (Photo / Authorized & Provided by 劉洺愷) 
Singaporean immigrant Liu Ming Kai set up a dessert workroom – Ah Bee Cakery in Taiwan. (Photo / Authorized & Provided by 劉洺愷) 
Taiwan Immigrants' Global News Network】Translated by CHI CHIA I

By placing a horse racing bet, a Singaporean immigrant – Liu Ming Kai (劉洺愷) has fulfilled his dream of becoming a baker and even opened a dessert workroom named Ah Bee Cakery. He is now one of the few Singaporean pastry chefs in Taiwan. 

A journey towards becoming a pastry chef   

Liu was a rebellious child before and was apathetic about many things. However, he found his passion in baking during a cooking class held in secondary school.  

“I remember that in the five-day course, I made a concentrated effort every day.” The most memorable part was the last day of the course. On that day, he prepared ingredients, baked brownies, saw the finished product, and won praise from the chef. These gave him a great sense of achievement.  

Ever since then, he practiced making brownies at home almost every weekend. Besides, he also went to the library during his free time and learned to make a few adjustments to the original recipes.  

After graduating from secondary school, Liu started doing a part-time job to earn money to cover his school fees, showing his determination to attend a bakery school. “Later, I placed a Singapore horse racing bet and won the third prize unexpectedly.” He said. “The money earned enabled me to pay school fees, what a coincidence!” Even though this happened many years ago, one could still sense his surprise when he was giving an account of his memory.  

At first, Liu’s parents only hoped their rebellious son would not get into trouble, but they also witnessed his progress and improvements. “I think what matters the most is that you have a great passion for something, and you do it as best you can,” he said. “I think that’s meaningful.” 

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How stories began in Taiwan 

Liu and his Taiwanese wife met each other on the Internet. The two dated for more than three years with the consensus on getting married in the future. Now, they got married with two adorable children and settled in Taiwan. 

Liu Ming Kai and his family members. (Photo / Authorized & Provided by 劉洺愷)  

Due to having a long-distance relationship, they only had a few days off a year to meet each other in Singapore or Taiwan. “At that time, I was working seven days a week in Singapore, which meant that I only had days off whenever I traveled to Taiwan.” He also promised his girlfriend that once he achieves his targets, he would move to Taipei. It just happened that the company she served in was going to open a store in Taiwan. Therefore, he moved to Taipei fortunately. 

When Liu was doing national service in Singapore, he loved watching a Taiwanese variety show “Kang Xi Lai Le”. Unexpectedly, Liu became a close friend of a regular in the TV show – Denny Tsao – after inviting  Denny to try desserts. Denny not only orders products from Liu, promotes Liu’s brand, but also gives Liu a lot of valuable advice.  

“Denny told me that the only thing I have to do is to focus on making desserts because he could feel a sense of pride as he saw the cake,” Liu said. “I am really grateful to him as he is the first person who helps me a lot in Taiwan.” 

The everlasting entrepreneurial spirit of Liu’s grandpa 

The baking workroom, Ah Bee Cakery, was named after Liu’s grandpa. Liu was brought up by his grandparents and there has been a very close bond between Liu and them. His grandpa always reminded him that “we must be honest and diligent, and cannot deceive others.” While mentioning these, he showed his deep gratitude.

Ah Bee Cakery is in Tamsui. (Photo / Authorized & Provided by 劉洺愷) 

When Liu’s business just started growing and his child was born, Liu’s grandpa passed away, unfortunately. Sadly, Liu was even unable to attend the funeral because of the pandemic. Liu showed no emotion at the moment. However,  as a self-demanding person, it turned out he overcooked a dozen trays of biscuits. Despite being sorrowful, he asked himself to bestir himself and passed down the grandpa’s spirit from generation to generation. “I hope my grandpa will be able to see my efforts,” he said. 

Unique desserts 

The “Pandan Chiffon Cake” available in the dessert workroom is made with pandan leaves from smallholders in Taiwan. This dessert is a classic flavor of Singapore. Recently, Liu tried to combine a popular ingredient in Taiwan – taro with pandan cake, and he got this inspiration while visiting wet markets in Taiwan. Besides, there’s another special flavor – basil mango cake – which is made with local fruits and herbs, giving a distinctive taste.

Baking a Pandan Chiffon Cake. (Photo / Authorized & Provided by 劉洺愷)  

The classic flavor of Singapore – Pandan Chiffon Cake. (Photo / Authorized & Provided by 劉洺愷)  

Liu likes to push himself and has noted down many recipes that he ideates. In the future, he hopes to discuss and execute plans with a team. “I often joke with my friends that I'm an underground singer who’s working hard alone and hoping to be seen by everyone one day.” 

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Kindness of Taiwanese  

“I could sense the kindness of Taiwanese in the traditional market.” Liu loves to visit wet markets in Taiwan as there are retro elements and streets, as well as approachable. There was once when Liu was taking photos while strolling in the market, and he was even asked to get close to the hawkers. 

Passing love down to the next generation 

Liu plans to open a cafe filled with Singapore vibes in Tamsui. Moreover, his ultimate goal is to bring his brand back to Singapore and provide a helping hand to underprivileged children with the spirit of his grandpa.

Liu’s son is featured in marketing materials of Ah Bee Cakery. (Photo / Authorized & Provided by 劉洺愷)  

Now, he brings freshly baked desserts to children’s homes and shares them with children. In the future, the workroom will also be open to children who are interested in baking. He wants to give encouragement and support to the next generation as he was once a rebellious kid.  

“There’s no such thing as the best, but there’s always something better.” This is Liu’s motto. After undergoing start-up challenges, sleep deprivation for consecutive weeks, and the loss of a loved one, he still perseveres. 

Liu is thankful that there are many friends and customers from both Taiwan and Singapore supporting him along the way. In the future, he will strive to achieve more goals in Taiwan and Singapore with love from his wife and children. 

Readers are welcome to check Ah Bee Cakery’s Facebook, Instagram 

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