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Pride of Taiping: Insta-sensation home baker is taking Malaysia to the world with her… cakes!

By Intan Maizura Ahmad Kamal – January 28, 2024 

IN the vast expanse of Instagram’s culinary landscape, where every scroll unveils a visual story, one artist commands attention with her edible creations. Keem Ooi, or @keempossible_2, isn’t just a baker; she’s a maestro wielding spatulas and brushes to turn cakes into canvases, creating stunning masterpieces that truly transcend the limits of conventional baking.

The self-taught baker had captured the attention of both local and international Instagram (IG) users during the time of the first Movement Control Order (MCO). Her rise to fame certainly wasn’t a gradual ascent; it was a meteoric trajectory fuelled by the global lockdown.

As the world sought solace in the digital realm, Keem’s creations became a source of joy. Her page oozed exquisite artistry, a visual feast of design magic with a canvas that included games characters from the Animal Crossing series, Pokemon’s Pikachu, and, definitely my favourite, one of singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran’s cover art for his single, Afterglow, when Keem collaborated with Warner Music Malaysia.

Her IG account, which she’d been using since 2015 to share her baking creations, is also utilised for the purpose of advertising her pay-to-view tutorial videos, shot up to more than 58,000 followers within just a few months.

Fast forward to the present and it’s been a good two years since our last encounter. The term “saw” is quite fitting here because our initial connection occurred during the MCO in 2019, and even then, it was solely through email correspondence.

The delightful tone of her written responses had charmed me then, so when a lively voice message unexpectedly lit up my phone, requesting a catch-up, I didn’t hesitate. “I’ve done sooo many things and been invited to sooo many countries to share my craft since our last conversation. Can we reconnect?” she’d exclaimed with infectious enthusiasm.

But, of course!


Today, seated opposite me in a trendy Damansara cafe that’s beginning to heave with a lunch time crowd, Keem, clad in a casual white hoody over a pair of pants — and sporting the widest grin — is a picture of pure contentment as she fusses over what we should order for our lunch.

“I just came back from Hong Kong where I held a Masterclass,” she begins, eyes dancing before enthusing: “I’ll be heading to Taiwan in March, also to conduct my classes, and not too long ago, I was in Portugal on the invitation of some parties who’d seen my work on my IG!”

Eager anticipation radiates from her as she shares just how much she revels in the role she plays, contributing to Malaysia’s global recognition, one exquisite cake at a time. “I’m always in pursuit of knowledge. With every post I share, I receive feedback about the continuous improvement in my cake designs,” confides the mother-of-two, currently marking her third year as a cake design instructor.

On her ongoing quest for growth, Keem shares: “I aspire to evolve continually. The simplicity of my initial designs has given way to more intricate creations, presenting a challenge to my students who eagerly seek to master my latest designs.” Her unique teaching approach welcomes students of all levels, even those with zero baking experience, debunking the myth that artistry is reserved for the seasoned.

Globetrotting around the world, sharing her knowledge and skills, doesn’t she fear people stealing her designs and toppling her standing? Her response surprises me. “Not really,” she says matter-of-factly, expression thoughtful.

Adding, she confesses: “I’m not scared of competition or people being better than me. I’m driven by the desire to share my passion.” During the challenging times of the pandemic, Keem actually shared her tutorial videos with single mothers and the less-privileged, empowering them to turn their newfound skills into a source of livelihood.

Smiling gently, she confides: “I’m planning to go to Nepal for free to teach the women there to learn these skills too so they can supplement their income. I just feel blessed to have the platform to be able to do something worthwhile for others and spread the joy of cake artistry.”


Keem’s story begins in tranquil Taiping, Perak, where she grew up with her three siblings and parents. Born into a family where music and creativity flowed like a melody, Keem shares that it was her mother, one of Taiping’s pioneer piano teachers, who played a pivotal role in shaping her artistic inclinations.

“My late mum was my piano teacher and she also did Chinese calligraphy,” recalls Keem, fondly. Continuing, she shares that mum Tai Cheah Peng, who even has her own music school — Cheah Peng Music School — in their then-sleepy town, was the one who trained her to write calligraphy, leading to her becoming a national champion years later.

A classically trained soprano with teaching certificates from London’s Royal School of Music and Trinity College, the soft-spoken home-baker initially found her expression in the world of music.

“Mum taught me and my sisters how to play the piano when I was only 4 years old,” reminisces Keem, beaming at my stunned expression. Recalling her early educational background, she shares that she only studied up to Form 5. “I chose not to pursue further studies as I’d already attained the qualifications to teach music. By the time I was 13, I’d got my music diploma.”

Her latent talent in singing was something Keem stumbled upon quite accidentally. “It was my mum who recognised my potential,” confides the 54-year-old, adding that the matriarch subsequently enrolled her for classical singing classes. “I entered a music competition as a teenager and won the open category title. I credit mum for discovering and nurturing my talents.”

A music teacher for the last 33 years, Keem decided to take a break from that field to focus on evolving her OTHER creative pursuit — cakes. “I’ve always been a creative soul and passionate about art. In fact, I’m so obsessed with crafts,” she admits, chuckling happily, adding: “I used to draw, make dolls from soap and could sew my own clothes using my mum’s sewing machine. When I was in high school, I made all my best friends’ school bags!”

The shift from music to baking wasn’t a calculated move for Keem; it was an impromptu decision inspired by a desire to merge taste and aesthetics. “I loved to paint. One day, I suddenly felt like creating a cake that wouldn’t only taste great but also be aesthetically artistic and beautiful. I wanted to create something that would have an identity,” she recalls, narrating the moment that marked the inception of her culinary journey.

It was her batik cake that she made for her Muslim friends for Hari Raya that propelled her to superstar-cake-stardom. “My cakes are my canvas,” says Keem with a shrug of her shoulders. Adding, she continues: “I apply the brush strokes of art on cake instead of paper. That’s what I’m known for.” Her cakes are not just desserts; they’re meticulous compositions that evoke awe and admiration.


In a world where fame often comes with a hefty price tag, Keem’s big dream isn’t about personal wealth. “I don’t have the need to be a millionaire. I just want to inspire more people,” she declares, eyes taking on a dreamy look.

Her platform, she adds, isn’t just for showcasing her designs; it’s a stage that she’s using to encourage her students to sell their creations, providing a pathway for others to benefit from what she teaches.

“I’m so grateful that my mum saw potential in me and helped me to hone my skills,” she reflects thoughtfully, acknowledging her roots and the guidance that shaped her into the artist she is today.

“If it weren’t for my mother, I wouldn’t be who I am and where I am today,” confides Keem, adding: “My older sisters inherited only the music part. For me, I inherited all my mother’s talents — baking, cooking, sewing, art, piano playing and singing!”

Suffice to say, her hero is her talented mother, who passed away a couple of years ago. The matriarch’s advice on contentment echoes in Keem’s philosophy. Smiling, she shares: “Her biggest advice to me which has stood me in good stead today is, ‘Don’t be greedy’. People are never satisfied with what they have. But you need to learn to be so.”

What about YOUR advice for others who aspire to reach for the stars too, I ask the amiable Instagram sensation.

“Just keep doing what you love,” she implores, without pausing to reflect, before concluding softly: “Go for it and do your best. If you’re passionate about what you do and believe in it, you WILL get there — eventually. Put your heart into what you do and most importantly, enjoy what you do. Do things for the right reasons.”

To check out Keem’s amazing canvas, head to