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60 Pastry & Baking
North America
Chef in Focus – International
stuck. And I stuck with him, working with him in three
properties around the world.
Your photos are amazing. When did you take up
photography?
I am a visual person. When I was five years old I would draw
pictures of people and landscapes. My parents took noticed
after being alerted by my teacher of my skills. I was always
interested in light and shadows and my drawings where almost
always three dimensional. One day I got hold of a Polaroid
camera and I loved taking pictures of my surrounding. My
parents weren’t thrilled because back then, Polaroid images
were expansive. I bought my first camera, a Canon F1, when
I was 19 years of age and haven’t stopped taking pictures.
What advice can you give to other chefs who are
interested in photography and blogging?
First of all see the end in mind, visualize how the dish should
appear best in a picture. Never shoot food with artificial light
unless you have a studio setup to control the levels of light.
Always make sure the shadow of the dish is to the front or
slightly to the side, never to the back! Control aperture and
shutter speed manually, programmed settings give you just a
picture. It’s like cooking with a microwave oven.
For blogs, to me, it is important to have a purpose. Is it
just for fun or is it to contribute interesting content? Remember,
people from around the world will be looking. Second, how
much time do you have to dedicate to the blog? It does not
take much time nowadays with an open source platform such
as WordPress to blog but to maintain a food blog it takes some
dedication to be successful. Once everything is in place, find
a host, register a domain with a Linux based hosting package
and choose or even better yet, build your own blog theme.
Keep it simple and clean and most of all, have fun with it!
Living and working in Dubai is very convenient for
travel to Europe and Asia. Any trips planned in the
near future? Are you looking forward to eating
anywhere in particular?
I just returned from Singapore and Bangkok. Spent some time
with blogger friends there and ate at White Rabbit and Rocks
at Marina Boulevard in Singapore and in Bangkok we indulged
in street food and traditional Thai fair. Next trip will be
Switzerland in January which I’ve been planning for some
time and plan on visiting Fischerzunft by André Jaeger in
Schaffhausen. That’s been on the top of my list and can’t wait
for this experience!
Do you have a favorite ingredient?
I am a chocoholic. But also love Japanese Green Tea Powder,
Passion fruit, yellow raspberries and a sugar from Japan called
Wasanboon.
Sometimes overseas assignments can be challenging
with respect to ingredients and equipment. How is
Dubai?
Equipment wise we can get any part from anywhere in the
world. Sometimes it takes a few extra days demanding on if
the item is in stock. Same with ingredients. Most of our
ingredients are from abroad since very little is produced
locally. So we can get any food ingredient we wish to use at
any time of the year. If apricots are not in season in Europe
we will get it from Australia. We have no restrictions at all.
Besides being a world-class pastry chef, you are a
true culinarian at heart. Have you always had an
appreciation for the savory side or is it something
that developed over the years?
I love what I do in the pastry kitchen. That’s my passion and
first love. I do a fair bit of cooking at home and enjoy preparing
a meal over hours but that will always remain a hobby.
Cooking for friends and the like. I do have pastry chef friends
who over the years have made the move to the “other side”
and became executive chefs, and very good ones. But for me,
savory cooking is a hobby.
In your opinion what city has the best food?We know
this is a tough questions but there has to be one that
stands out?
No, not tough at all once experienced. The best food cities
are Tokyo & Kyoto. These cities are made for foodies like me.
In Tokyo I can choose from over 300,000 restaurants.
Everything from Australian fine dining to Zimbabwean bush
food! Seriously. And Kyoto for its traditional Keiseki dinners
with 23 courses. That’s just amazing and a lifetime experience.
What do you make of the influx of “celebrity” chefs
to Dubai? Was it too much too soon?
Celebrity Chefs? Are there any in this town? I bet you not
one of those chefs spends more than five days a year here in
Dubai. I have eaten in some of their restaurants like Nobu,
Ramsey, Rostang and Rodes but find nothing really special
about their food. It is all marketing and I am happy for those
chefs who are able to sell their name but it is not their food.
The only true “celebrity chef ” in my book is Tedsuya Wakuda-
san of Tedsuya, Sydney. To eat his food one has to go to his
restaurant where he actually cooks. A true chef!
We hear Oriol Balaguer is opening a chocolate
boutique in Dubai? Probably not the best time.
I heard he is opening his shop at Souk Al Bahar but until
now nothing. Perhaps he is still busy with his shop in Tokyo
where he just opened for business.
SugarHeadBlog.com is your food blog. Where does
“SugarHead” come from?
My boss and mentor called me during the opening of the
Peninsula Bangkok his “SugarHead” and since then the name