Chef Will Goldfarb | Room4Dessert | Bali, Indonesia
The chef who launched a thousand flights…for me at least. While researching pastry chefs to familiarize myself with the who’s who in the industry, I came across this Wall Street Journal article in 2014. As a young cook still developing my own approach to food philosophy, this profile of Chef Will resonated with me.
“Goldfarb almost never speaks about food as something that’s eaten. Rather, the discussion typically centers on process. ‘We’re productive in here,’ he says. ‘It’s relentless without any pressure. I’m not sure if that makes sense, but that’s what we’re going for.'” It made sense to me, and I knew I wanted to take my skills to the next level under his training.
Chef Jessica Wu | Aberdeen Street Social | Hong Kong
I was first drawn to Aberdeen Street Social because of its previous pastry chef Andres Lara. During our communication, he informed me that his tenure at Aberdeen was coming to a close, but strongly encouraged me to stage with his sous chef, now chef, Jessica Wu. Because a pastry chef is only as strong as his or her sous chefs, I’m just as excited about staging under Chef Jessica. It’ll also be an interesting moment in time to observe how she develops her own menu apart from her predecessor and thus becoming a chef in her own right.
Chef Janice Wong | 2am:dessertbar | Singapore
During the 2013 holiday season at Restaurant Daniel, the pastry team participated in a Secret Santa gift exchange and I received a dessert recipe book, “Perfection in Imperfection” written by Chef Janice Wong. Inside were spectacular images of desserts that were unlike anything I had done in a kitchen so far, but the book ended up being shuffled away while I continued with my French pastry technique.
Several months later, as I was searching for other chefs to stage under in Asia, I reached out to a chef and mentor, Chef Dana Cree from Blackbird in Chicago. “Who in Asia is doing amazing things with pastry?” I asked. “Janice Wong,” was her immediate answer. There it was. I pulled out my copy of her book again and was instantly reminded how her technique was so unlike my own. Her kitchen and lab will set a dynamic setting for my stage.
Chef Ryan Clift | Tippling Club | Singapore
I decided to split my time in Singapore between two restaurants because Chef Will Goldfarb could barely contain his enthusiasm for Chef Ryan to anyone who was in his restaurant. I had heard of Tippling Club from my own research beforehand, but I didn’t know its reputation from an industry insider’s point of view. Since I’ve been in Asia, any industry person I’ve come across has been just as fervent as Chef Will when it comes to Chef Ryan and his imaginative thinking behind his food. That’s all I needed to know.
Chef Andres Lara | Cacao Barry | Tokyo, Japan
The word-of-mouth recommendations I have heard for Chef Andres Lara within the industry–the co-founders of my school, noma’s former pastry chef Rosio Sanchez, Chef Will Goldfarb, Chef Nuno Garcia of Mejekawi, Chef Jessica Wu–have been unanimous. His accolades are many and his experience is extensive, but most importantly, he is simply a good guy. From the looks of his Instagram account, he is constantly traveling under his new role as Cacao Barry’s regional chef for the Asia Pacific, but I was able to schedule a window of time to travel to Tokyo where he is based and assist him for a couple of weeks. His chocolate work, entremets and other French classics reworked with Asian flavors are visually stunning so I cannot wait to actually taste his creations and see how he works and thinks.
Chef Kanako Sakakura | Narisawa | Tokyo, Japan
When I started my travels, I knew that much of my itinerary was unknown; I was counting on the advice of chefs along the way to guide my next steps. Thank you to Chef Andres for leading me to Narisawa and Pastry Chef Kanako. According to many, Chef Yoshihiro Narisawa is fast becoming Japan’s leading visionary on sustainable agricultural practices and his poetic interpretations of nature’s bounty and beauty on a plate are highly praised. The Japanese have long been known for their minimalist aesthetics and technical precision, and to see this showcased with food will be a special experience for me.
Chef Makito Hiratsuka | Le Mout | Taichung, Taiwan
Here’s another thank you to Chef Andres for connecting me to Chef Makito. The restaurant he works at, Le Mout, is beginning to gain traction on the international front. Its chef, Lanshu Chen, studied at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, worked at various notable French restaurants and then The French Laundry in the United States before returning home to open Le Mout in 2008. I am intrigued to see what she has done to elevate Taiwan as a fine-dining destination.
Chef Makito is a long-time well-known pastry chef in Asia. After leaving Tokyo to train in France, he went to Spain and had the opportunity to learn from Paco Torreblanca, and then worked at El Bulli and El Cellar de Can Roca. He returned to Asia to start at Restaurant ANDRE in Singapore, and it was there where he and Chef Andre created spectacular works of art on a plate. His particular talents in chocolate and sugar work are what I’d like to see the most and am interested to see what he is currently working on.
Chef Dan Hunter | Brae | Birregurra, Australia
I am grateful to my mother for cultivating a love of gardening and nature in me when I was a little because I conclude my travels at a restaurant in Australia that is most well-known for its outdoor component. I bet my rapidly diminishing savings that I will spend half of my time with Brae outside maintaining and harvesting their farm and garden, respectively. And because it will be summer in the Southern Hemisphere in December and January, I’m excited to see, touch and taste the bounty of produce the season will provide and how it differs from the United States.
Birregurra is a small town 136 km (85 mi) southwest of Melbourne. In its 2006 census, there were 688 residents, and Brae itself is located 2 km (1 mi) outside of Birregurra. It will be like the small Texas town I never grew up in.
Brae is set on 30 acres of productive farmland and I cannot wait to behold the sight myself. There are many aspects about Brae that intrigue me. They do not have a set menu; it is determined based on what they harvest each day—true farm-to-table dining. The more I can spend time outdoors sweating with soil dug deep into my fingernails, the better. To pluck and taste fruits and vegetables straight from the source—that’s how my tastebuds will learn. I have a feeling Brae will allow me a relationship with food I have never experienced before; what a great place to work in as my travels draw to a close.