Meet executive pastry chef Tiffany Pascua
Pastry chefs don’t come more passionate about all things patisserie than Tiffany Pascua, our executive pastry chef at Hotel Bel-Air. Read about what she loves cooking and her must-try signature dish.
What made you want to be a chef?
I love being part of the wonderful way that food brings people together. Growing up in a close-knit family, eating was a form of family bonding and an opportunity to create great memories. My late father was so supportive – he would shop for the ingredients I needed while I was at school and have everything ready for me when I got home. Sharing dishes I had cooked for family parties always put a smile on everyone’s face, so I decided to turn my hobby into my career.
What inspires your creations?
I like to think of my work as creating edible art. Obviously, I want everything to taste delicious and have just the right texture but first impressions are all about creating something eye-catching. As a child, I loved to doodle and this is something that’s stayed with me as it’s a great way to help ideas flow. When I see how something looks on paper, it’s easy to experiment and decide the right shapes and colours before I get baking.
What’s your hotel signature dish?
Hotel Bel-Air is located on Stone Canyon Road, so we created a special version of rocky road ice cream, known as our Stone Canyon Road Ice Cream Bars. The bars are made with rich milk chocolate ice cream mixed with homemade marshmallows, which are dipped in dark chocolate and rolled in crushed salty almonds. Our guests really love them as they taste delicious and are a nostalgic reminder of the kind of ice cream they ate as children.
What do you like to cook at home for friends?
I love to cook tacos! I really like the wonderful mix of all those fresh, zingy flavours and textures. My absolute favourite variety are crispy shrimp tacos. It’s a dish I never grow tired of and thankfully my friends agree. They also know they can rely on having a delicious dessert at my house.
What are your three favourite ingredients and why?
Butter is an obvious choice for me as it makes everything I cook taste a little more decadent. Salt is another essential ingredient that has a magical way of tying different flavours together and elevating the taste of almost every dish. Lemon juice is the other thing I often use to ensure my desserts aren’t overly sweet.
What are you most proud of at your hotel?
Our end of summer BBQs that we’ve done for the past five years. They have gained a great reputation as a real one-of-a-kind event with incredible food and a real buzz. After all the barbecued dishes, it’s my turn to create something equally delicious to match the occasion.
What’s your favourite food memory?
What’s memorable for me is when great food is tied together with an experience. One of my best memories is a boat trip with local fishermen on Coron Island in Palawan, Philippines. They caught a variety of fresh fish and cooked it straightway on the boat for us to eat as we relaxed on the beach, gazing out across the water.
What’s your guilty pleasure food?
I adore fried chicken and waffles, it’s definitely my guilty pleasure food. There’s something so satisfying about the mix of sweet with savoury. I also have a great gluten-free waffle recipe, which is so delicious you can’t taste the difference. If you haven’t tried this dish, I highly recommend it.
Chefs work long hours, how do you like to spend your time off?
Maintaining a good work-life balance is very important to me. We work in a stressful industry and I’m only able to be successful in my role with a clear head. Journaling, meditation and exercise all help me retain clarity. I also enjoy eating and dancing with my loved ones as a great way to have fun and unwind.
Do you listen to music while you cook?
At Hotel Bel-Air we don’t listen to music while working but there is a background beat of banging pots and pans and machines whirring. Sometimes we do sing together, though usually we don’t even realise we’re doing it. It helps to keep us calm and maintains a momentum and rhythm to our work, as well as being a bit of fun.
Any tips for cooking at home?
Something so important and not often practiced when cooking at home is to clean as you go. This makes you more efficient, less overwhelmed, and nobody has to think about tidying up after a wonderful meal.
Experience Tiffany Pascua’s exceptional creativity by enjoying some of her delicious desserts alfresco at Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air.
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