This 34-Year-Old Left The Finance World To Make French Desserts With An Asian Twist

After learning some baking tips from her late aunty, Preeta taught herself to make cakes, buns, and cookies.

Cover image via Shre Maha (Provided to SAYS)

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Transitioning to a new career in pursuit of one's passion can be risky, yet it often brings great fulfilment.

An inspiring example is Preeta Devi.

The 34-year-old, who hails from Ipoh, Perak, moved to Kuala Lumpur in her 20s and worked in the finance industry for two years.

It wasn't long before she realised that finance was not her true passion — and at the age of 25, she decided to courageously venture into the culinary industry, setting her course towards a more fulfilling career path.

Preeta Devi.

Image via Shre Maha (Provided to SAYS)

"I've been baking since the age of eight. My obsession started after I ate a really amazing cookie at my late aunty's house during Deepavali and decided I wanted to make it myself. It was this buttery vanilla-chocolate creation called biskut pasir or biskut hati. My late aunty would come over and teach me how to bake without any frills: a ceramic bowl and a wooden spoon were her main tools," she shared.

From that moment forward, Preeta continued to teach herself how to make different cakes, buns, and cookies.

"After a lot of negotiation with my father, who did not understand why his only daughter would leave a lucrative industry, I enrolled myself at Diplôme de Patisserie from Le Cordon Bleu, Paris," she told SAYS.

Her 10-month course was the best time of her life, she recalled, adding that she learnt more than just baking

"We also learned about French food culture, tried classic French fine dining, and had student lunches while taking cruises down the Seine. But we also had days where classes ran from 8am to 9pm, and our tutors were real sticklers for time and punctuality. During the course, we learned very traditional basics: puff pastry, tarts, choux pastry, croissants, brioche, that sort of thing," she revealed.

Following her return to Malaysia, Preeta worked in several kitchens before deciding to bring her dream to life by launching Sucréebypreeta, an online patisserie business that specialises in Malaysian-inspired, French-style pastries

"Before doing my diploma, I wanted to start an ice cream bar – I love ice cream – and this idea evolved into an online patisserie. I wanted to create my own thing. I felt constrained in the kitchens I worked in: it was a lot of prep work and didn't really call for creativity," she explained.

With the many upcoming cafés and evolving trends in Malaysia, the culinary industry is undeniably competitive.

"Sucréebypreeta fills an important gap in the market: the flavours that come out of our kitchen are very unique and celebrate Malaysia. They are 100% natural and are a marriage between my French patisserie training and my Asian heritage," she shared.

To bring desert enthusiasts the best of both worlds, Preeta takes French classics like cannelés, opera cake, or mille-feuille, and gives them an Asian twist with local flavours like lychee, pandan, and her favourite, cempedak

Sucréebypreeta currently sells cannelés and tarts in a variety of flavours, from rum-infused vanilla bean original to seasonal masala chai

Some crowd-pleasers include the Ipoh white coffee cannelés, which pay tribute to her roots, and ong lai (pineapple tarts) during Chinese New Year, which she says kids really love.

"I do have my signature lychee rose cupcake bouquet and pandan opera cake available all-year-round too. Lychee rose is very close to my heart and is still a signature cake flavour. Pandan opera is popular because it is the classic opera but with pandan and gula Melaka buttercream with salted coconut ganache replacing the usual coffee and chocolate," she added.

She also uses pandan to make mille-feuille, comprising layers of delicate pandan puff pastry, pandan crème diplomat, homemade pandan kaya, and salted gula Melaka caramel.

Among her seasonal creations, the cempedak gâteau St. Honoré is a standout. It features choux puffs filled with cempedak pastry cream and sits atop a crispy homemade puff pastry base. Another crowd-pleaser is the lemon-gin tart, with gin-infused lemon cream, gin, and tonic Jell-O.

And not to forget, her indulgent brownies: a gooey slab of dark, fudgy, Valrhona and Cacao Barry goodness. Both the classic and a raspberry-infused version are available.

"I've been told that these are super decadent and addictive," Preeta shared.

The current bestseller is the onde-onde tart, which has salted gula Melaka caramel, pandan mousse, homemade kaya, and salted coconut Chantilly on vanilla pâte sucrée, which is a sort of crispy but tender crust

Other bestsellers include a kaya, mango, and clotted cream cake, pandan opera, and lychee rose cake. "But when cempedak is in season, cempedak St. Honoré sells out pretty quickly too," she said.

Onde-onde tart.

Image via Sucreebypreeta (Provided to SAYS)

Mango and kaya clotted cream cupcake.

Image via @sucreebypreeta (Instagram)

Preeta noted that she does seasonal goodies as well. For instance, this Deepavali, she has gluten-free and refined sugar-free cardamom shortbread, masala tea sables, cashew snowballs, and cherry jammers. During Christmas, they will offer Mont Blanc bûche de Noël (Christmas cake) and Black Forest cake.

If you'd like to check out more of Sucréebypreeta's desserts or place an order, you can visit her website, follow her Instagram, or drop her a message on WhatsApp.

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