F or us Malaysians, marshmallows have either been a love-it or hate-it situation, probably because we weren’t given many choices to choose from – it was either the huge, white cylindrical ones that came in bulk-sized packs, or the limp, flat ones with artificial-tasting filling in them.
Fete Artisan Marshmallows plans to change all that and convert us Malaysians into full-fledged marshmallow lovers. Engaged couple Julian Chow and Carmen Cheong are the people behind Fete, where marshmallows (or as they are lovingly called, ‘marshies’) are made from scratch, by hand. Despite being a newbie in the Malaysian desserts-and-sweets scene, Fete (which means ‘celebration’ in French) is slowly but surely gaining popularity. Even the most popular foodies like Eat Drink KL and Kampung Boy City Gal and have raved about these pillow-soft creations.
Read our exclusive interview with the lovely couple to find out more about their night-time jobs as marshmallow makers:
Tell us a little about yourselves.
“Apart from managing Fete, both of us have day jobs, so it’s a mad but fun-filled juggle all month-round! We’ve been engaged since May 2012, and have been making marshmallows for more than half a year now.”
How did you come up with the idea of making marshmallows?
“We’re avid food and pastry enthusiasts, actually! We love cooking for each other, or doing it together as a couple. One day, we happened to watch this segment on The Ellen Show where an American couple was making their own marshmallows, and we thought, ‘hey – if they can do it, so can we!’ And as they say, the rest is history!”
What made you decide to start Fete as a business?
“We’ve been giving out the marshmallows to our friends and family, and all of them gave us super-positive feedback. So we decided that we should share it with as many people as we can!”
Challenges faced when starting up Fete as a new enterprise…
“It was really about streamlining the process, as making marshmallows can be very time-consuming. It was quite a challenge for us to make it more efficient. Fortunately for us, marshmallows are still very new to the Malaysian market, so we had the advantage of its newsworthiness.”
What do you love about being a part of Fete?
“It keeps us going on! Both of us juggle full-time two roles, having corporate jobs in the day and moonlighting as marshmallow makers at night. Physically, we’re really tired, but spiritually, it keeps us revitalized, especially when we start whipping up batches of marshies! We don’t mind sacrificing extra hours of sleep to make marshmallows, honestly.”
Do share more about Fete’s marshmallows!
“We have six standard flavours: Tahitian Vanilla, Choco Chips, Cookies & Cream, Orange Marmalade, Japanese Matcha and Double Espresso. We’ve also made monthly seasonal flavours like Pumpkin (for Halloween), Raspberry (for Xmas) and most recently, Bacon. Yum! We’d say Choco Chip is our bestseller, followed closely by Orange Marmalade.”
How do you come up with the flavours?
“We get inspired by so many things! For example, we draw ideas from local cultures, breakfast cultures, western food, the list goes on… Our local food scene is so diverse, so we always try to blend our marshies with different types of food. Our Orange Marmalade goes well with cappuccino, and the Cookies & Cream goes well with a glass of hot milk (that goes without saying, haha!).”
What types of ingredients do you use in your marshies?
“We use all-natural ingredients, and only halal ones. We’re health and fitness enthusiasts, so we wanted to bring that element into our marshies as well. It’s a bit of a healthy indulgence.”
As business partners, what do you like about each other?
“We’re like yin and yang! Although we may have our disagreements, we eventually accept ourselves for who we are. Carmen is good at planning the operational side and keeping deadlines, whereas Julian is better at numbers and marketing. We work well together in life and in work ”
What types of skills do you need to become an entrepreneur?
“It takes passion, a lot of determination and hard work to come up with something that you truly love. Basic skills are important, but they can be fine-tuned in the process. Based on our corporate backgrounds, we’re able to plan things better and manage our finances better. Of course, we’ll give a bit of leeway and let fate take the wheel and steer, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed!”
Fete Artisan Marshmallows is available at Carousel, Publika or from their Facebook page. Prices range from RM6 (for a bag of 12 pieces) to RM70 (for a ‘cake’ of 50 marshie pops).
(Photos: from Fete Artisan Marshmallows and Fete’s FB page)