Tam un­leashes her pas­sion for pas­try

Mi­nami chef chan­nels her artis­tic side to cre­ate vis­ually en­tic­ing desserts that taste great

The Province - - LIVE IT - RANDY SHORE

Orig­i­nally from Hong Kong, Nikki Tam has al­ways loved bak­ing and ad­mired the pas­try arts.

Af­ter study­ing art in Toronto, she moved back to Hong Kong and ini­tially pur­sued a ca­reer as an in­te­rior de­signer. How­ever, she soon re­al­ized her de­sire was to be in the kitchen, cre­at­ing and in­dulging in her favourite foods.

It was then that she de­cided to move to Van­cou­ver to at­tend pas­try school to pur­sue her dreams.

Com­bin­ing her love for de­sign and pas­sion for food, plates nat­u­rally be­came the best blank can­vas for her to ex­press her­self with. To­day, Tam is the lead pas­try chef at Mi­nami Restau­rant. Q What mo­ti­vates and in­spires you as a chef?

A

The sat­is­fac­tion of pre­sent­ing a dessert with dif­fer­ent com­po­nents that ex­cites both the sight and taste buds of oth­ers mo­ti­vates my cre­ativ­ity and in­spires me to im­prove every day. Q How would you de­scribe the type of food you like to cook?

A

Tex­tures and flavour com­bi­na­tions are very im­por­tant to me; so is the art of plat­ing. I tend to cre­ate desserts that are not too sweet and I love play­ing with and in­cor­po­rat­ing molec­u­lar gas­tron­omy for an ex­tra fun fac­tor. Q What might din­ers not know about you?

A

I love hik­ing and be­ing out­doors as much as I love be­ing in the kitchen, which is lucky for me be­cause all those su­gar calo­ries will just add up if I don’t get any ex­er­cise. Q De­scribe a cou­ple of your most re­cent cre­ations.

A

The pear tart that is cur­rently on our fall win­ter menu is a throw­back to my child­hood as it was a dessert my aunt would al­ways make. I have since taken over the duty of mak­ing this dessert every Christ­mas, and it is a fam­ily favourite.

Q

What’s your favourite lo­cal prod­uct and how do you use it?

A

I love pick­ing blue­ber­ries when they’re in sea­son dur­ing sum­mer time and I turn them into blue­berry cheese­cake and blue­berry com­pote.

Q

If there’s one im­por­tant piece of ad­vice you might have for home cooks, what might that be?

A

In­vest in a scale to mea­sure out pas­try recipes. It will make sure your recipes al­ways turn out the same.

PUMP­KIN PANNA COTTA

3/4 tbsp. (12 mL) pow­dered gelatin 1/3 cup (80 mL) homo milk 2/3 cup (160 mL) 36 per cent cream 1/4 cup (60 mL) con­densed milk 3/4 cup (180 mL) pump­kin puree 2 tbsp. (30 mL) cold wa­ter 1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) ground cin­na­mon 1/8 tsp 0.5 mL) ground nut­meg 1/8 tsp (0.5 mL) ground gin­ger 1/8 tsp (0.5 mL) salt

Sprin­kle gelatin in the cold wa­ter and let it dis­solve. Com­bine milk, cream, con­densed milk and pump­kin puree in a pot and heat un­til sim­mer­ing. Once the mix­ture is sim­mer­ing, take pot off heat and add spices as well as the dis­solved pow­dered gelatin into pot, mix thor­oughly. Let the mix­ture cool down a bit and pour into serv­ing glasses. Keep the glasses in the fridge overnight to set.

GIN­GER­BREAD CRUM­BLE

4 1/2 tbsp. (70 mL) soft­ened but­ter 2 1/2 tbsp. (37 mL) brown su­gar 7 tbsp. (105 mL) flour First spice mix 3/4 tsp (4 mL) ground cin­na­mon 1/2 tbsp. (7.5 mL) ground gin­ger 1/8 tsp (0.5 mL) ground car­damom 1/8 tsp (0.5 mL) ground nut­meg 1/8 tsp (0.5 mL) salt Sec­ond spice mix 3/4 tsp (4 mL) ground cin­na­mon 3/4 tsp (4 mL) ground gin­ger 1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) ground nut­meg

Pre­heat the oven to 350 F (175 C). Com­bine the brown su­gar, flour and the first spice mix in a mixer with a pad­dle un­til in­cor­po­rated. Add soft­ened but­ter and con­tinue mix­ing un­til a nice crumbly mix­ture forms. Spread the crum­ble mix­ture evenly on a bak­ing tray lined with Sil­pat (or parch­ment) and bake for 12 min­utes. Once the crum­ble mix­ture is cool, toss with the sec­ond group of spices.

To As­sem­ble: Spoon some of the gin­ger­bread crum­ble into the set panna cotta be­fore serv­ing and it’s ready to be en­joyed.

Serves 4-6

Mi­nami Restau­rant pas­try chef Nikki Tam was an art stu­dent who later dis­cov­ered her first love was cre­at­ing her favourite foods in the kitchen.

Make your own pump­kin pan­na­cotta with pas­try chef Nikki Tam’s recipe.

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