Pastry chef says mental prep is crucial
INDUSTRY EXPERTS BEST OF VANCOUVER
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.
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.