Jason Licker

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TCB:Who inspired you to have interest in confectionery at such an early age?

Chef: I was not particularly inspired by a chef or an iconic culinary professional. I wouldn’t say it was a person, but it definitely was a moment. While my mother was placed on a special diet, we began cooking together. Since my family members were prominent eaters and loved sweets, one day my mother and I decided to try to make low-fat, low-sugar and low-salt muffins. The result was horrible, but the process was fun. Something happened that day, something triggered inside of me, and I wanted to make more cakes, cookies or anything sweet.

TCB: Did you face any difficulty in your pastry career at such a young age?

Chef: The early years of my career were my favorite. Everything was so brand new and exciting. I would go online researching recipes, reading books and while I was in culinary school, I had a full-time job to reinforce what I was learning in school. When I landed an internship at Jean Georges in Trump Tower, it was tremendous. That internship turned into my first full-time paying job. Yes, so if you want to become a chef because of money, then do not go into this business.

TCB: Have you ever tried any Pakistani cuisine?

What’s your opinion about Pakistani food and culture? Chef: I have never tried Pakistani Cuisine, but I know the cuisine is a reflection of a passionate culture. With the emergence of a magazine like The Cook Book, the awareness of what Pakistan is really like is spreading which is nice.

“With the emergence of a magazine like The Cook Book, the awareness of what Pakistan is really like is spreading which is nice”.

TCB: Tell us something about your first creation. How was it?

Chef: I make balanced desserts. The White Chocolate-Sake Cream, Valrhona White Chocolate is paired with Junmai Sake which creates a super smooth creamy blend balanced by the sweet white chocolate and full-bodied sake. Yuzu scented berries bring a sweet, yet acidic element joined with a salty toffee crunch and refreshing shiso gelee. You experience, sweet, salty and acidic, all balanced with a mellow sake flavor and multiple textures.

TCB: Maintaining sweetness in pastry items is difficult. How do you manage that?

Chef: If you learn and experiment with ingredients, then you will learn how to maintain or balance the sweetness. I like to balance out the sweetness in a dessert with something acidic or bitter. I don’t like when I eat a dessert and fall into a sugar coma. I use a lot of yuzu, lime and lemon in my creations to make sure there is a nice balance in desserts.

TCB: Who is your inspiration in the field of pastry?

Chef: That is a tough question for me. I have always looked up to Pierre Hermé as the Master of Pastry, but the inspiration for me comes more from travelling and experiencing cultures. Of course, I respect all great pastry chefs, but I do not want to mimic what others are doing. I like to create my work from my own experiences.

TCB: Is taste in the hands of the one who cooks or in the recipe?

What do you think? Chef: Taste is in the hand of the one who cooks, for sure. If I give a recipe to five different chefs, I guarantee you that each version will be different. When you have mastered your methods, only then do you master “taste.”

Chef: Work hard and make your passion your life. There will be ups and downs, but stay focused and be relentlessly determined to achieve your goals.

Rapid Fire:

Pastry or Sorbet?

Pastry

Frozen yogurt or Ice cream?

Ice Cream.

Chocolate Brownie or Cheese Cake?

Chocolate Brownie.

Marco Pierre White or Jamie Oliver?

Marco Pierre White

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