Pas­try chef says men­tal prep is cru­cial

IN­DUS­TRY EX­PERTS BEST OF VAN­COU­VER

The Georgia Straight - - Best Of Vancouver - By

AMANDA CHENG

Amanda Cheng is the Ming to the Mak at Kit­si­lano’s well-loved din­ing spot Mak N Ming (1629 Yew Street). Al­though the restau­rant may bear her Chi­nese name, she doesn’t ac­tu­ally cre­ate any tra­di­tional Chi­nese desserts.

Trained at New York’s Culi­nary In­sti­tute of Amer­ica, Cheng has worked at Park Av­enue in New York, Fraiche in West Van­cou­ver, and Riquiqui in Hong Kong. Her ob­ses­sion with pas­tries be­gan a long time ago, in­duced by Martha Ste­wart tele­vi­sion seg­ments and a deep love for eat­ing sweets.

“I like baking more tra­di­tional stuff, just any­thing that’s com­fort­ing and stuff that peo­ple have grown up with,” Cheng told the Ge­or­gia Straight in a phone in­ter­view. “Stuff that is time­less and clas­sic, and mostly French.”

She de­votes most of her time in her din­ing es­tab­lish­ment’s tiny kitchen to cre­at­ing crowd-favourite desserts that are in sync with the French and Ja­panese flavours on chef Makoto Ono’s tast­ing menus. She’s one of the most tal­ented pas­try chefs in Van­cou­ver. Here, she dishes on her favourite pas­try shop in the city and her go-to treat, among other sweet things.

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN MAK­ING PAS­TRIES?

I’ve been mak­ing pas­tries for 10 years. I don’t want to say ex­actly, be­cause then peo­ple will do the math and fig­ure out I’m a lot older than I look.

WHAT’S THE CREATIVE PROCESS LIKE FOR COM­ING UP WITH NEW DESSERTS?

The main thing I try to think about is what peo­ple like to eat and what I like to eat. I don’t fol­low what’s trendy. I know some pas­try chefs will try new tech­niques and new ingredients, but at the end of the day I think it’s im­por­tant to make stuff that peo­ple like to eat. With ex­pe­ri­ence, you can just imag­ine how things taste. A lot of it is just men­tal prepa­ra­tion.

WHAT’S THE BEST THING ABOUT CRE­AT­ING PAS­TRIES AT MAK N MING?

I like to ex­per­i­ment with some Asian flavours be­cause of Makoto [Ono]. We have tapi­oca pud­ding right now, and peo­ple love it. Peo­ple also re­ally like our sake-kasu par­fait. Some­times a lot of our reg­u­lars for­get what they’ve eaten. They’re not very high-main­te­nance, and ev­ery­one is just re­ally happy to be here.

WHAT’S THE BEST DESSERT YOU’VE EVER HAD?

There’s so many. At Spago in Los An­ge­les, there’s this re­ally good straw­berry pan­cake thing [Aus­trian Kais­er­schmarrn]. It’s re­ally sim­ple, like a souf­flé with straw­berry sauce. In New York, I worked for this pas­try chef and all his desserts were re­ally good. It’s hard to choose.

YOUR FAVOURITE PAS­TRY SHOP IN THE CITY?

Thomas Haas is al­ways good. I think he’s one of the first ones [in the city] that’s re­ally el­e­vated, and he does both pas­tries and choco­lates. I al­ways get the dou­ble-baked al­mond crois­sant.

WHAT WOULD YOU CON­SIDER YOUR SIG­NA­TURE CRE­ATION?

For a while, a lot of peo­ple knew me for mak­ing pavlova be­cause I used to make a lot of pavlova. I don’t like the oven here as much, so I don’t make it as much here. For a long time I didn’t eat it be­cause I thought it was just sugar and egg white and just re­ally sweet. But then I had a proper pavlova, and I thought, “Wow, pavlova can be good.”

WHICH PAS­TRY CHEF WOULD YOU LOVE TO COL­LAB­O­RATE WITH THE MOST?

Chika Till­man of Chika­li­cious Dessert Bar, based in New York. I think it was the first dessert bar I went to, and that al­ways left an im­pres­sion with me. Ev­ery­thing she does is so del­i­cate and ev­ery­thing tastes good on her menu. She has a Ja­panese palate, so it’s never too sweet and al­ways very light. WHAT’S YOUR GO-TO DESSERT? Any ice cream. I’m lac­tose-in­tol­er­ant, but I eat all ice creams. I like any flavour with nuts be­cause nuts are al­ways good.

Tammy Kwan

e are thrilled to be awarded “Best of Van­cou­ver - Most Ro­man­tic Restau­rant” by Ge­or­gia Straight read­ers.

Bauhaus Restau­rant was in­spired by the early 20th-cen­tury de­sign move­ment “Bauhaus” trans­lated to “con­struc­tion house” which was fa­mous for its unique ap­proach to ar­chi­tec­ture and de­sign where every form has a func­tion. Us­ing these prin­ci­ples for each dish on the menu, the chefs at Bauhaus source only the best qual­ity ingredients, stay­ing true to their form and match­ing them with flavours that all have a func­tion on the plate.

My pas­sion has al­ways been food and wine. Every sum­mer I spend ten weeks in Europe and eat my way thru var­i­ous Miche­lin Star restau­rants and come back with a lot of in­spi­ra­tion. Ex­ec­u­tive Chefs David Mueller and Tim Schulte also use their free time to travel and try new restau­rants. My vi­sion for Bauhaus has al­ways been that we never stand still but move for­ward, al­ways per­fect­ing our craft.

Many peo­ple come to me and ask - “What is Bauhaus Restau­rant.? What is German cui­sine ex­actly?”. - Well at Bauhaus we have two menus that rep­re­sent German cui­sine to­day - our Chefs Tast­ing Menu and German Clas­sic Menu. For our chef tast­ing menu, I start by say­ing, first, throw out your idea of Ger­many food in Canada. Your pre­vi­ous German food ex­pe­ri­ence most likely was Bavar­i­anstyle sausages. Ger­many now has more three-star Miche­lin restau­rants than any other Euro­pean coun­try ex­cept France. Over the years German cui­sine has evolved. Imag­ine German crafts­man­ship, think Mercedes Benz, BMW, and Porsche, lux­ury, high-end, ex­treme at­ten­tion to every de­tail. Ap­ply those prin­ci­ples to cook­ing where chefs ap­pren­tice for years. Think of how close Ger­many is to Italy, France, Aus­tria, Spain and imag­ine tak­ing flavour in­flu­ences from all these rich culi­nary coun­tries and cre­at­ing dishes gen­uinely unique. The phi­los­o­phy of the con­tem­po­rary German cui­sine is to utilize only the best ingredients and cel­e­brat­ing them at the core of your dish and del­i­cately bal­anc­ing each flavour on your plate.

- Pro­pri­etor Uwe Boll Bauhaus has had the hon­our of be­ing highly-acclaimed in­ter­na­tion­ally re­cently it was listed as a restau­rant to watch by The World’s 50 Best Restau­rants’ Diner’s Dis­cov­ery Se­ries. The list is con­sid­ered the ‘next gen­er­a­tion of din­ing des­ti­na­tions.’ This past year Bauhaus was listed as one of the best German bars and restau­rants around the world by CNN, and as part of the new global face of German cui­sine by Wine En­thu­si­ast.

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