Award-winning pastry master Michael Kwan
May 04, 2022
Tell us about your recent awards
I’ve just won the UK pastry team European Cup 2022, which qualifies us to take part in the Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie 2023 final in Lyon – the world cup of the pastry world. I’m particularly proud of this chocolate sculpture I worked on during the competition with my team. I was also the winner of the 2020 UK Pastry Open and the 2019 UK Sugar Championships. The competition is fierce out there but I really enjoy the challenge and it’s a great way to spark creativity.
Secret of success
I always try to show life and movement in my competition pieces, like a photographer capturing that defining moment in time. You can’t force inspiration but I’m always looking for ideas. Preparation, practice and presentation are the key to success.
What’s special about The Dorchester for you?
There are lots of new projects in the pipeline and I’m delighted to be a part of both the hotel’s long legacy and its exciting future. The hotel team have embraced my creativity and I’m thrilled at the thought of what we will achieve together.
Have you always enjoyed being in the kitchen?
I started helping out in my uncle’s restaurant in Hong Kong when I was just 14 years-old and really enjoyed it. He was the person who inspired me to study hospitality and catering. When I was asked what speciality I wanted to pursue, I tried out pastry and took to it straight away – since then I haven’t looked back.
What’s your must-try dessert?
I’m introducing my Eton Tea dessert to the exclusive Chef’s Table experience at The Dorchester. It’s a refined take on a classic Eton mess made with tea-infused ice cream. Other favourite flavour combinations of mine are pecan, caramel and banana, and a good old-fashioned lemon drizzle cake made with lots of fresh lemon for plenty of zing.
What’s your favourite ingredient and why?
I love working with chocolate. Not only is it delicious but it’s easier and more practical to work with than sugar craft. Valhrona produces top quality chocolate, including a bespoke milk and dark chocolate exclusively for The Dorchester.
What’s your favourite food memory?
I vividly remember the first time I tasted Black Forest gateaux at Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck restaurant in Bray. The way the different flavours evolved was incredible. I’m also a huge fan of the rum baba served at Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester.
How are you celebrating the Platinum Jubilee?
What could be a more quintessentially British way to celebrate HM The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee than with a special afternoon tea at The Dorchester? I’m currently creating a tempting parade of delicate pastries, which will be a fitting celebration our guests can all take part in. I’ve always adored afternoon tea, especially the scones served with a cup of Earl Grey.
What’s an easy yet impressive dessert to serve at home?
A great crowd pleaser is always a pavlova. It makes an impressive centrepiece to delight your guests and can be as classic or creative as you like. I love the way I can prepare everything before my guests arrive and then just assemble the dessert at the last minute. If the meringue breaks, simply transform it into Eton mess, another firm favourite of mine.
How do you spend your time away from work?
I like to go for countryside walks with my wife. I find being surrounded by nature both relaxing and a great source of inspiration. Most of my intricate pastry designs are based around flowers and animals so these days out often help me conjure up new ideas.
What food could you not live without?
My favourite dish of all time is Cantonese roast duck and I’m very fond of dumplings. If I haven’t had rice in a while it’s something I really crave. I recently visited Paris and had lots of delicious bread and various potato dishes but as soon as I returned to London, I wanted rice again.
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