Pastry Chef Peiwen Lee ’13, An Educational Component to Every Job
CIA Alumni Bio
“At the CIA, you’re in a safe environment where you can make mistakes and learn from them. I firmly believe your career will progress at a quicker pace with the CIA behind you.”
“I’m a career changer,” says Peiwen Lee, head baker at Hot Bread Kitchen in New York City. Peiwen graduated college with a degree in mass communications and worked for three years as a market research analyst. “I liked the job but rarely saw the fruits of my labor. I enjoyed working in restaurants and I was young enough to make a change. I felt the program at the CIA would give me a strong foundation for a career in the food service industry.”
Peiwen was a member of the first graduating class at the CIA in Singapore. “Many of the instructors come from the Hyde Park campus,” she says. “I appreciated the professionalism, the clear direction of what was expected of us as students, and lessons on how best to manage your time. In this industry education is your best friend. At the CIA, you’re in a safe environment where you can make mistakes and learn from them. And you learn to take ownership of your work and how to work with a team. I firmly believe your career will progress at a quicker pace with the CIA behind you.”
Peiwen worked at Maison-Kayser bakery in Singapore, and with its numerous other locations in New York City, Peiwen applied for a job in the States. “It helped open the door for me,” Peiwen says. It turns out, Hot Bread Kitchen was searching for a head baker and Peiwen was perfectly suited for the position. “One of the things I love best about working at Hot Bread Kitchen is their Bakers in Training program—an intensive six-month, paid internship for women facing economic insecurity. I love teaching and I always want to have an education component to every job I take. I feel I’m giving back and helping the industry.”
In March 2019, Peiwen moved to the west coast to join Starter Bakery. “I’ve always wanted to develop Singaporean flavors in my bread, but it was very difficult to do so in New York. As sustainability and sourcing local ingredients are the current trends in the States, ingredients that are required for Singaporean flavors are hard to find, but I’m determined to share my heritage through bread,” says Peiwen.
Peiwen Lee majored in Food Business Management at The Culinary Institute of America, Singapore. She is the head bread baker at Starter Bakery in Berkeley, CA.