Hideko Kawa, owner and pastry consultant at SweetArt Lab
Put your fantasy on the run and it may not be wild enough to catch the uniqueness of Hideko Kawa’s creations. Trained at Le Cordon Bleu she first gained her working experiences as a pastry chef at Gordon Ramsay Restaurant. After six years of work with Gordon, she has moved to Helene Darroze at The Connaught, followed by very valuable years of work as head pastry chef of Heston Blumenthal’s empire. Now she works on her own offering her consultancy and developing her own projects. She loves science, is a fast learner and lover of art. All this is perfectly visible in all her works which are playful and delicious.
Hideko Kawa. Photo: Gavin Milles
How would you introduce yourself?
Previous human environment researcher, home economics teacher in Japan, a French cuisine trained former Head Pastry Chef of the Fat Duck Experimental Kitchen and The Fat Duck. I have created British sweets for Heston Blumenthal’s whole group empire. Now founder of SweetArt Laboratory to offer dessert designing, consulting, courses and bespoke catering.
How did you enter into the pastry world?
My culinary passion started from my very early age, my mother took me to a Christmas cake course and gave me a kitchen toy to play with. Since then I have been cooking for my family every day with my mother. I studied cooking, nutrition and food science at university. My passion for cooking led me to enter Le Cordon Bleu in London. At the same time my desire to learn made me knock at the door of the Gordon Ramsay Restaurant Royal Hospital Road to work as a trainee where I could barely last for my hardest first day and yet spent 6 years at the end.
What/who is inspiring you today?
My childhood in historic small city Kanazawa, Japan, with seasonal ingredients from the sea, rivers, mountains, farm and fields continues to inspire me daily in my creations. Also, I enjoy and take inspiration from traditional Japanese art and culture, tea ceremony, flower arrangement, calligraphy, paintings and music. As for the who, it’s fantastic experienced chefs and mentors such as Heston Blumenthal, Ashley-Palmer-Watt, Thomas Keller, Jason Atherton, Gordon Ramsay, Claire Smith, Mark Askew and Simone Zanoni.
What do you love most about your work?
Creativity to freely express internal and invisible emotions, philosophy and senses, bringing smiles and happiness to those who experience my works through seeing and tasting. Working with fantastic teams in high end restaurants to achieve the finest quality and standards in the industry. Hard work, team work and discipline leading to the best results.
Smiley brownies with mango ganache. Photo: courtesy of Hideko Kawa
What is your greatest achievement?
Building the best pastry team at the Fat Duck and creating sweets with Heston Blumenthal’s inspiration for the entire Fat Duck empire, including The Fat Duck, Dinner by Heston, Crown, Hind’s Head, Perfectionists Café.
And what is your ultimate dream?
My ultimate dream is to create the finest savoury and dessert courses which would make guests happy with the looks, sounds, aromas, textures and taste.
Raspberry choco roses on the Earl Gray chiffon cake. Photo: courtesy of Hideko Kawa
What are your favourite flavours?
I enjoy flavour paring. Little bit of sweetness combined with seasonal fruits, nuts, vegetable, meat and the finest chocolate. My favourite flavour is wine’s volatile flavours, especially sauterne noble rot. I also love a hint of fermented flavours, koji, miso, soy, yeast, malt and vinegar. Tea such as, Earl Grey, Matcha, Hoji Cha are wonderful combination with desserts and sweets as well.
What is your relationship with chocolate?
Chocolate is like my lover, who I want to see every day, who will make me smile and feel refreshed. It provides natural energy and is a supplement for joy, health and beauty.I enjoy flavour paring. Little bit of sweetness combined with seasonal fruits, nuts, vegetable, meat and the finest chocolate. My favourite flavour is wine’s volatile flavours, especially sauterne noble rot. I also love a hint of fermented flavours, koji, miso, soy, yeast, malt and vinegar. Tea such as, Earl Grey, Matcha, Hoji Cha are wonderful combination with desserts and sweets as well.
What is your relationship with chocolate?
Chocolate is like my lover, who I want to see every day, who will make me smile and feel refreshed. It provides natural energy and is a supplement for joy, health and beauty.
Yuzu sake choco and Matcha choco leaves. Photo: Hideko Kawa
You are using also Cacao Barry chocolate. Do you have any favourite and why?
My favourite chocolate from Cacao Barry is Alto El Sol, which is fruity and rich cocoa taste but not overly bitter. Also Mycryo cocoa butter is a excellent product to stabilize aerated tempered chocolates and mousses, and it is great for baking to create a very thin layer as a wet protection.
What would be your final message for our readers?
A day without chocolate is like a day without sunshine ;’)
Hideko Kawa’s afternoon tea. Photo: Gavin Milles