Think of desserts and one thinks of cakes, pies, pudding and sweets. What makes us reach us out to certain kind of pastries and sweets? Is it because they are visually appealing, or because we know that they are sweet or because it is a dessert that one has not tried?
Chef Arvind Prasad, co-founder and executive of Whitecaps International School of Pastry Arts, Bengaluru, who has been in the industry for 21 years tells you that today, we look for art in everything. “We look how we can be part of art — be it a wall or food. Food is passion and a trending fashion. We want to experience it in all it’s forms including the luxury aspect of it. This means that pastry and desserts are looked at differently. While the dish remains the same what has changed is the presentation due to technology and experimentation,” Arvind says who recently mentored a person for a competition — The Pastry Queen — an international competition that was recently held.
He tells you that the students who come to learn at the school are enamoured visually. “Eye impression is important but there is need to ensure that the ingredients that are used in a pastry are able to retain their taste. I want to keep the taste as natural as possible. When we think of pastry, people think of maida and sugar. But a good dessert can be just a fruit that can be given a twist with a herb and spices. For me a dessert need not just be a sweet. The experimentation too with the desserts stems from the need of the people to try something that is exotic. Therefore, ice cream with goat cheese and ice cream with Parmesan and bacon ice cream has many takers,” Arvind explains.
He tells you that the reason why pastries are expensive is that because man of the ingredient used are imported. “Many chefs try to work with indigenous ingredients to bring down the cost. I love to experiment with berries but some Indian berries are expensive as well since they are restricted to certain areas like the berry from Ladakh — sea buckthorn — a sour berry,” he says and opines that the word pastry is not well-defined in India.
Most Indians, when they visualise a dessert, they see a cake. But this is not true. Anything that is a pastry is a dessert. “For example, cake is for celebration that can make a great dessert. When I eat a samosa, it is a savoury pastry. When I eat dhokla, it is a savoury pastry. A pineapple pastry is a pastry, a croissant is a pastry. A dessert includes everything — pastries, sweets and even pudding,” Arvind shares who won the best chocolate showpiece in the Indian Chocolate Masters 2014.
The advantage of a competition, he says, is that you put your best foot forward. “You pick up new techniques like dessert snacking.
When you think of snacks, you reach out for popcorn or chips. But have you heard of chocolate snacking? This gives you ideas to push yourself. The latest trend taking the world by storm are eggless desserts. Even French pastry chefs are making eggless desserts. Pastry chefs are not mere chefs, we have have to be good artists, good cooks, food scientists and even good managers,” Arvind says who is now busy creating a team for a competition in Singapore and then in France.