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.
Pastry or Sorbet?
Frozen yogurt or Ice cream?
Chocolate Brownie or Cheese Cake?
Marco Pierre White or Jamie Oliver?
Marco Pierre White