Vincent Bourdin: What Pastry Chefs don’t Say

Vincent Bourdin: What Pastry Chefs don’t Say

Ever wondered “what chefs don’t say”? And what would they never eat? Ever checked on your beloved Pastry Chef’s social media and found…nothing?!

I did just that, and couldn’t find anything on Chef Vincent Bourdin, so I decided to interview the Founder and Director of the Asian Pastry Cup.

We know him. If you move to Singapore, and you ask for a contact in this crazy pastry world, you’ll talk to him. If you are in the region, willing to grow and innovate, he’ll find you. His mission to spread pastry-art and choco-culture started when he became the Executive Pastry Chef at Valrhona Far East. Born in France, he had his sights set on the Merlion more than 30 years ago. He calls Singapore his home and he is still in the chocolate business now…but there is much more to say about his career. He discovered the power of Asian Pastry long before others. He is helping local chefs to get a real education. With every show he launches, he adds innovative pastry-vibes and allows the participants to experiment unusual combinations, and to show off their unique untold strength. If five or six Asian countries were always in the Top10 at the recent editions of La Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie, it’s because of him. He won’t’ say so, and you won’t find any article in which he spends more than half line about himself. He travels with no pause around Asia Pacific region, Europe and USA. And maybe that’s why his Asian Pastry Cup (APC) will become “Asian Pastry Week” at Food & Hotel Asia 2020, and the Chocolate Chef Competition (C3) decided to move the World Finals from Brooklyn to Singapore.

Chef Vincent, why will Singapore launch the “Asian Pastry Week”?

Because chefs need it. There was the lack of this kind of a platform. The Week consists of a series of competitions and events that give Asian Pastry Chefs the platform they need to continue to grow and to make a name for themselves.

Asian Pastry Cup (APC) covers the work of pastry chefs in shops and hotels (ice cream and gelato art, ice carving, sugar pieces making are included).

Chocolate Chef Competition (C3) covers the work of chefs de cuisine and restaurateurs. Eight restaurant pastry chefs representing eight countries from all over the world will create 12 chocolate plated desserts and one set of mini pastries for afternoon tea. The jury includes Michelin Star Chefs, Pastry Celebrities and Influencers.

Global Starchefs Pastry Show covers the educational needs of the future chefs. Six internationally awarded pastry chefs will perform a spectacular live pastry demo in front of 350 students who will for once have all the rights to play simultaneously with the Chefs, take selfies and enter the pastry booths.

Music Cocktails Pastry and Pairing Challenge (MCPAC) covers the expectations of the ones who want pastry in their glamorous lifestyle. One pastry chef, one mixologist and one masterDJ: we will see teams of three realizing in 12 minutes a unique dessert, paired with a brand-new cocktail and music.

Pastry-Nightlife. It sounds like the sweetest trend for the Millennials.

Well, Singapore has got bars in the top10 of the world rankings. Pastry and cocktail pairings are better than other pairings (e.g. wagyu and cocktails). And a modern chef should know how to pair great ingredients and cool drinks, don’t you agree? Only when they learn that, their clients will enjoy an unforgettable experience. MCPAC will be a fast and fun event, communicable through all the social platforms.

Do Asian Chefs need help to communicate their creativity?

Of course, that’s the reason why I started organizing the selections of La Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie long ago. Asian Chefs are shy, excluding few exceptions, they live apart and they don’t speak English well. We developed a communication platform. The 2020 Asian Pastry Cup will have had 5 official selections: that’s a new record, and the next edition will be even better.

Well, in 2020, Singapore will have a new milestone. For the very first time, at Food & Hotel Asia, we will have the finals of a global pastry competition, C3.

Yes, something is changing. C3 started at Madrid Fusion, then they planned selections worldwide. The finals are now held in Brooklyn, NYC. Asia is surprising, Malaysia won the latest Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie, the world is listening now.

While we already know the finalists of APC and C3, Is Global Starchefs still open?

Certainly, I had the ambition to provide a different show where young chefs and students are invited to exclusive masterclasses. Nobody takes care of them while they are in school, then they become stars. We started organizing masterclasses at At-Sunrice GlobalChef Academy 12 years ago, but we introduced them at Food & Hotel Asia only in 2018. I want to demystify one thing: chefs don’t like demos. They need vibes, interaction. Culinary and Pastry students are always helping at APC, C3… They were 500 at the latest edition and please note that there is not a maximum number. Everybody can come, it’s a show!

How does Global Starchefs work?

We choose chefs on the spot and we ask them to do the show. No head no tail. Nobody’s is seated. No recipe at all. You always have music on the background. The key is interactions. Chefs will ask students to help. The World Top Chefs will take part at the show. You’ll see lots of celebrities and superstars, but the atmosphere will be casual and informal. All the students will be able to mingle with the chefs, try out new things. It will be a full open house, don’t miss it.

What will Pastry Chefs never say?

We should ask to work close to Chefs de Cuisine. We are often overlyfocused on techniques, but we are test announcers, pleasure providers. Today we are focusing more on modelling or sculpturing, instead of creating something that can be eaten. We have to speak more with the Chef de cuisine, and we will find a winning complicity between starters, main courses and desserts.

It’s a pity that desserts come only at the end of a meal…

That’s the story. It has to be at the end of the meal. When people reach the dessert, they have already enjoyed three or four dishes. Pastry Art is not about nourishing people, it’s about pleasing them. It’s important to have a great knowledge of the products.

Healthy trends?

It’s not about being healthy, it’s about being sustainable. If you are sustainable, the chances to be healthy are big! The most significant change we are seeing are reduced portion sizes of pastries and desserts. The presentations are sophisticated, technical expertise is getting more ambitious.

For instance, just fifteen years ago stellar restaurants used to serve a generous slice of cake with a scoop of gelato. Today’s plating allows sampling of many textures, flavours and even heats. This allows the diner to embark on a sensory journey that celebrates the technicalities and the multifaceted flavour profiles created by the chefs.

Where do you see the biggest potential in Asia today? Which trends do you foresee?

A huge potential is in Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines. Asian and European Pastry Chefs based in Asia incorporate wonderful fruits and flavours that are unique to the East. This creates an exciting marriage of East and West expertise and flavour profiles. For example, seasonal fruits and those native to Asia, such as Durians and unique variety of citrus, inspire our Chefs to plate completely original pastry selections.

China is different, their chefs need to travel more. Asia is inspired by Pastry Chefs all over Europe. There is a growing collaboration: an increasing numbers of celebrated European pastry chefs are invited by luxury Asian restaurants and hotels. Social media created another trend. The latest most exceptional European pastries are almost instantly discovered in Asia now. From professional chefs to enthusiasts, there is an unstoppable exchange of pictures, ideas and recipes on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. It makes Pastry Art truly global. No more borders.

Last but not least, the Japanese pastry scene is creating an amazing buzz. There are now two styles: 3D for picture or great pastry for taste. Japanese Chefs are segmented and focused. When they do something, they do it at the best.

What pastry chefs never order at the restaurant?

Nothing, we are very open minded. I went to a famous bar in Singapore, I was hungry, I had the best gnocchi in my life. And I had my best pizza at Marina Bay Sands, believe it or not.

Your favourite Frozen Art Dessert?

One scoop of lemon sorbet at the end of a meal.