Head chef choc full of ad­vice

Cockburn Gazette - - FOOD -

TOOWOOMBA-born Ryan Steven­son has come a long way from his first cook­ing ex­pe­ri­ence of mak­ing sim­ple meals in Boy Scouts.

A part-time job in a bak­ery while study­ing math­e­mat­ics at univer­sity piqued his in­ter­est more than num­bers, so he de­cided to try bak­ing as a pro­fes­sion in­stead.

The 42-year-old is now head chef at Bel­gium’s Calle­baut Choco­late Acad­emy, af­ter ex­ten­sive stud­ies to be­come an ex­pert pas­try chef and choco­latier.

“A pas­try chef is some­one who spe­cialises in mak­ing pas­tries that can be plated, mean­ing they gen­er­ally only last a few min­utes, or cakes that can last around two to three days be­fore they need to be con­sumed,” he said.

“A choco­latier is some­one who spe­cialises in mak­ing choco­lates and sweets that have a long time be­fore they need to be eaten.

“They need to have a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of in­gre­di­ents and how to pre­serve their cre­ations for a longer pe­riod of time.”

Steven­son moved from Lon­don to Bel­gium in 2004 to learn more about pas­try.

He said be­ing an Aus­tralian in Bel­gium had helped his ca­reer, en­abling him to stand out among other tal­ented pas­try chefs and choco­latiers.

“Bel­gium has a very strong pas­try cul­ture, where eat­ing cakes is very much in­grained in their way of life, to the ex­tent that cer­tain pub­lic hol­i­days are as­so­ci­ated with a cer­tain pas­try,” he said.

“On Jan­uary 6 every­one will buy a pithivier and on Mother’s Day they will buy their mother a cake. On De­cem­ber 6 peo­ple buy specu­loos bis­cuits for their chil­dren. “At Christ­mas it’s nec­es­sary to buy a Yule log and Easter is of course choco­lates.” He said his proud­est achieve­ment came when he won the Bel­gium pre­s­e­lec­tion for the World Choco­late Mas­ters. Steven­son was at Pan Pa­cific Ho­tel Perth last week thanks to Calle­baut choco­late agent May­ers, which hosted him on a demon­stra­tion tour around Aus­tralia. “A part of be­ing back in Aus­tralia means I am able to show­case my ex­ten­sive knowl­edge and demon­strate all as­pects of choco­late and patis­serie, in­clud­ing unique recipes for pas­try and choco­late ap­pli­ca­tion to other in­dus­try pro­fes­sion­als,” he said. “The best thing about be­ing at home is meet­ing up with friends who are also pas­try chefs and be­ing able to share my knowl­edge, to help the Aus­tralian pas­try and choco­late com­mu­nity be­come stronger and more mo­ti­vated to achieve great things.”

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