Passion, Happiness And Wealth

Building one’s passion, happiness and wealth within the food industry takes time. During my wild apprenticeship years, my only true passion was sleepless and endless nights on the dance floor and worrying about my hairstyle. Getting yelled at in the chef’s office and being told I was going to lose my job was a regular occurrence.

When you have superstars such as George Calombaris and Shane Delia doing their apprenticeship at the same time, you do get compared. I could never understand their passion, always off doing foodie stuff, competitions or extra hours in the kitchen learning. With the empires they have built along with the fame they have earned, all that hard work has paid off and I now understand what they were trying to achieve.

It’s not until I was first thrown into a food competition that I began to understand what being passionate and loving your craft truly meant. Turning things around, I started receiving awards, getting a scholarship to travel to the UK, winning competitions to Paris, Chicago, and so on. I was even named best apprentice at Hotel Sofitel besides the name of George and Shane.

It was in October this year that the industry’s passion, happiness and wealth really seemed to gel together for me. Firstly, I attended the Sydney Pastry Chef Club held at Café Opera in the InterContinental hotel, where pastry chefs met to discuss and demonstrate the latest food. The theme for this club day was éclairs, which I find so sexy. Éclairs are going to be the next craze; so much can be done with them.

I was impressed by the éclair from Aurélien Menuet from the Glass Brassiere at the Hilton Sydney, which seemed to really stand out. It was called a choc-rasp-yuzu; the bitterness of the chocolate crémeux is balanced with a tangy yuzu liquid caramel and is freshened up with raspberries. I couldn’t stop eating it. I had to sneak a box full of them back to my staff so they could see and taste it.

For my demonstration I made a chocolate brownie éclair. I kept the concept of a mille fueille along with a éclair, so it was a brownie base that has a chocolate anglaise on top, the éclair, milk chocolate Chantilly with layers of chocolate rectangle in between.

For some éclair inspiration from overseas, look no further then Fauchen in Paris. They do amazing stuff with colours, flavours and presentations. They even make an éclair pyramid, a twist on the macaron tower. They also make a chocolate transfer of Mona Lisa’s eyes across an éclair that stares at you where ever you are.

Following the pastry club was the launch of Adriano Zumbo’s new store at The Star City Casino. I was invited to attend by Adriano and casino executive chef Andy North, and honestly didn’t know what to expect. Walking in, I was quickly handed a candied popcorn martini and canapés. There was a DJ spinning great tunes, Champagne passed around along with cocktails and fresh tasty canapés. Adriano was nowhere to be seen and there was a sheet covering the shop. I kept drinking and catching up with a few old friends alongside a lot of media and great-looking people. Then, all of a sudden, the catwalk started and the models came out in lingerie, each holding a different type of dessert. Adriano then came out and the shop was unveiled.

I loved the look of Adriano’s dessert train, the kitchen, the shopfront and the emergency break-glass macarons. The day was very well executed and a blast to be a part of.

Having had enough fun on land, I next headed to sea on the Orion cruise ship, a five-star deluxe hotel that holds 100 passengers. This time though I became quite sick and spent more time hugging the toilet bowl rather than the kitchen-mixing bowl. I tried taking ginger, congee, tablets, balancing bands and big scary needles, but nothing helped. I slept most of the trip but I still managed to implement eight different menus, high tea, chocolates and along with that was the finally the dessert buffet.

Returning to land I returned to normalcy with a dessert degustation named Sweet Disposition. It was six courses of nothing but desserts, from light to a little heaver. Starting off with a strawberry consommé, olive oil sorbet and champagne savarin to a palette cleaner of lemon verbena and frozen lemon marshmallow, to chocolate bars and nougat for petit fours to be taken away. The first night sold out, so a second night had to be put on a week before and that was three-quarters full. So much work and yet very rewarding. Not sure if I’ll do it next year but if I do I think I’d like to get a few other pastry chefs involved and do more of a fundraiser.

Going into work, doing what’s asked and going home is fine, but I would just classify that as just a job. Going to work and doing additional activities, pushing yourself and getting involved in the industry, that is passion. I’ve always been told to make sure I’ve always got something else lined up, the next culinary journey, the next challenge the next knowledge, and look forward to more adventures to come. And for the record, my hairstyle still hasn’t changed all that much.


Serves eight. By Anna Polyviou, The Bathers’ Pavilion

The Mango and Passionfruit Meringue Roulande is one of the lightest desserts around – think pavlova with French flair. You could vary the flavour of the filling by using stone fruit or berries, and the result will always be a winner.


canola oil spray
6 free-range egg whites
1 cup / 200g caster sugar, plus one tablespoon extra, for dusting
1 teaspoon cornflour
1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract


200ml mango purée
¼ cup / 50g caster sugar
½ vanilla bean, split lengthways
½ tablespoon cornflour
½ tablespoon flour
2 free-range egg yolks
150ml pouring cream, whipped


1 mango, diced
4 passionfruit, pulp only


Step 1
Preheat the oven to 160°C. Line a 30cm square baking tray with baking paper. Spray with canola oil.

Step 2
Place the egg whites in the clean bowl of an electric mixer and whisk to soft peaks. At low speed, gradually add the sugar, cornflour and vanilla. Mix on high speed until the meringue is thick and glossy. Spread the meringue evenly over the baking paper, taking it right to the edge.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until a slight golden colour. Don’t open the oven door while cooking!

Step 3
Sprinkle the extra sugar over a fresh sheet of paper on a flat surface. Turn out the cooked meringue onto the sugar-dusted paper. Gently peel the backing paper away and cool at room temperature.

Step 4
To prepare the custard, place the mango purée, sugar and vanilla bean in a saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer. Mix the cornflour, flour and egg yolks together, then add a ladle of hot mango juice to the mixture. Mix well and add back to the pan of hot mango juice, then mix well again and cook over medium heat until the liquid starts bubbling. Once the custard is thick, remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl. Discard the vanilla bean, cover and chill for 30 minutes.

Step 5
When ready to assemble, loosen the custard with a whisk and gently add the whipped cream to lighten. Spread the custard evenly over the meringue with a spatula. Gently roll the meringue up to create a loose roulade. Set on a platter and chill until ready to serve. Just before serving, garnish the roulade with the mango and passionfruit pulp.


Recipe published by ABC Books.
Photography by William Meppem

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