Thursday, July 9, 2009

Unusual twist

Swiss rolls with unusual fillings are gaining popularity in Ipoh.

The next time you’re in Ipoh, you might be interested in looking out for Jennifer Liau’s unusual Swiss rolls, apart from the usual staples of pomelos and hong peah. Over the past two years, Liau’s Swiss rolls have been gaining a steady following among locals and visitors.

According to the 59-year-old mother of three, her choice of fillings such as spinach with pistachio nuts, fresh chempedak, durian, mango, and coffee rolls with walnuts had become popular with Ipoh foodies who were looking for a taste of something new.

Jennifer Liau has earned herself the title of ‘Swiss Roll Lady’ in Ipoh.

“I had started off with selling cakes but after a while a friend thought that would limit my market as people only ordered them for birthdays or weddings.

“He said that I should have something that people could consume all the time and he suggested Swiss rolls,” revealed Liau.

Liau, an executive director of a paint company, started by selling the Swiss rolls from her office after agreeing to a partnership with a US-trained pastry chef who started baking the rolls from home.

“We started the venture at a charity bake-off in aid of children with special needs. From there, sales picked up through word of mouth,” said Liau.

What made Liau’s Swiss rolls popular are the thick, generous creamy fillings which are imbued with a variety of nuts.

In the carrot Swiss roll for example, is a filling of cashew nuts and cream cheese while in the green tea roll, pistachio nuts in butter cream.

One of the best sellers is the chocolate roll with hazelnut filling which is reminiscent of biting into a Cadbury bar. For local flavour, try the jackfruit, durian and mango rolls. The durian roll practically has its ample filing oozing out. One can also find huge chunks of cubed mangoes in the mango roll.

All the cakes have a light texture as Soya Lite oil is used instead of butter.

Liau also assured us that no artificial flavourings have been used all the ingredients for the filling comprise fresh vegetables and fruits. As a breast cancer survivor, using natural ingredients for the food she prepares is very much a priority.

But having successfully built a paint company with her husband, Tan Hang Kuang, 57, the Penang native said that getting the taste right was only half of the battle. The other half is to get the sales in.

“I started by introducing my Swiss rolls to friends when they invited me for their parties. It was a good way to ensure that more people had a chance of sampling them,” said Liau on her marketing strategy.

She also came up with a buy-five-get-one-free offer to motivate her customers to buy more.

Last year, Liau had the volume to consider opening a sales counter away from her office. As such, the baking operations moved into a shop lot with four staff.

“From the office, my customers could only come in during office hours. After those hours, I had to make deliveries. So, when my friend, Debbie Chen, opened her restaurant, De’ Mouth, I asked her if she could give me a small corner to set up a sales counter. This way, my customers would be able to walk in any time between 10am and 10pm,” said Liau.

In addition to Swiss rolls, Liau also accepts orders for cakes and some of her best sellers include the Tiramisu Classic and the Fruit Delight. Prices for her Swiss rolls range from RM8 to RM18 while the cakes’ prices range from RM30 to RM80.

To order, call 016-5209933 or visit the counter at De’Mouth Restaurant at 12, Jalan Kampar, Ipoh (beside Fairmont Hotel).

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