Mastering the art of pastry

One of the most innovative pastry chefs in the world, Antonio Bachour is known for his gorgeous desserts

Chef Antonio Bachour

Lovely curves. Bold strokes. Breathtaking colours. A real visual treat. No, I wasn’t describing a painting. But Antonio Bachour’s bonbons can definitely be counted as works of art. Known for his too-good-looking-to-eat desserts, the Miami-based pastry chef was in the city for a three-day pop-up workshop at the Lavonne Academy of Baking Science and Pastry Art.

Bachour is known to breathe life into all things sweet with his eye for detail, precision and love for innovation and technique. Born into a Lebanese family of bakers, Bachour was brought up in Puerto Rico, and the influence of the land is clearly seen in his creations.

From delectable bonbons, perfectly shaped melt-in-the-mouth croissants, luscious tarts, gateaux and entremets, Bachour’s Instagram posts can give dessert lovers “foodgasms”. Having tantalised people’s palates with flavour combinations like lemon-coconut with white chocolate, almonds-mocha and bitter chocolate, coconut & strawberry, milk chocolate peanut and apricot, the magician talks about all things sweet...

Tell us a little about your day in the kitchen…

From my experiences in the kitchen, every day is a brand new challenge. Challenges are what makes it so worth it. We create exclusive desserts for restaurants, hotels and resorts. Quality, consistency and customer satisfaction always come first for me in the kitchen.

Was taking up pastry a natural progression for you?

One of my first memories of the kitchen was as a child when I would watch my mother baking cakes. I loved watching as she decorated it. Dinners were incomplete without desserts. My father owned a bakery and there I spent all day observing the pastry chef at work and fell in love with the craft! My passion for pastry grows with each passing day.

What are the key attributes for a pastry chef?

All the successful pastry chefs I have met until now have these things in common — dedication, pure passion, and sheer hard work.

What should a consumer expect from a Bachour dessert?

My desserts feature some of the most advanced techniques with ingredients of contrasting texture and character. The Bachour Miami pop-up at Lavonne Academy last month showcased some of my newest creations in the form of entremets, petit fours, tarts, verrines, bonbons, Viennoiseries and savouries.

You are popular on Instagram. How important is social media presence in your profession?

Social media is critical to a chef’s life. How else are you going to showcase your creations to the world? Everybody wants to know what is being made, what ingredients were used, what techniques were implemented, what’s the best equipment, which are the best schools, etc. Instagram surely serves as the best platform to let your followers know it all.

What is perfection on the plate for you?

The most important thing is a combination of everything. You have to have a harmony of taste, presentation and innovation. If you can get this right, you are a winner.

Which is your favourite dessert ingredient besides chocolate?

My favourite ingredients are tropical fruits. I grew up in Puerto Rico, so I love tropical fruits. With tropical fruits, you can make any dessert stand out in terms of flavour and presentation. We are fortunate to have an abundance of tropical fruits in Miami.

Which is your favourite dessert and flavour combination?

My current favourite dessert from Bachour Miami is the mojito petit gateaux.

How important is the presentation to you?

The presentation is the most important aspect of any dish. A dessert must not only have a harmony of contrasting flavours and taste but also look beautiful. Presentation needs to have the WOW factor!

Desserts have gone beyond pies, cakes and ice creams. What do you keep in mind while innovating? Where do you draw your inspiration from?

I get inspired by people around me, colours, paintings, smells, nature, and sometimes even fashion. Whatever I can see and feel, I translate on the plate.

Any word of advice for home bakers and aspiring pastry chefs?

Prepare and practice all your recipes. Every pastry chef should know the fundamentals, stay focused and passionate. You should just concentrate and not get stressed while cooking.

Have you ever tried making desserts for the calorie-conscious?

It’s no fun making healthy sweets. A dessert requires an indulgent palate.

Have you tried Indian desserts?

The last time I visited Lavonne, Bengaluru, I got to try out several Indian desserts like gulab jamun, gajar ka halwa, rasmalai, Mysore Pak, jalebi and also rasgullas. Although they were all extremely sweet, I was absolutely in love with the techniques used to make them.

What are the latest trends in pastry and what new dishes are you working on?

The latest trends besides techniques are the use of tropical ingredients, fruits and berries. Creating the perfect dessert by combining flavours, textures, patterns and colours is something I am constantly perfecting.

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