Daniel Pearse, head pastry chef of Hakkasan, a year after the interview
Chocolate and Raspberry Marquise from Hakkasan. Photo: courtesy of Hakkasan
Looking back at 2015, what was the most important event for you and your restaurant?
For me, it was being nominated, shortlisted and then winning the Craft Guild National Pastry Chef Of The Year. It was such a great honour for me to be nominated and then chosen by my peers, the people in our industry who I look up to and admire. It gave me a real sense of pride and achievement.
Daniel Pearse, Hakkasan. Photo: HdG Photography
Which of your 2015 desserts was your favourite and why?
It’s difficult to choose just one dish for the entire year. There are four or five which really stand out for me. Each new seasonal menu that I worked on would present a new favourite dish to me.
During the springtime last year my favourite dish was the Coconut semifreddo with tonka, lime and bitter chocolate. The combination was simply sublime, and it proved to be very popular with the guests. So much, that I am looking forward to bringing it back this year again.
At the same time there was raspberry and chocolate marquise which was one of those desserts that just made you feel a little bit naughty when you ordered it - it was rich and chocolaty, yet balanced well by the raspberries and their natural sharpness. It had the ability to leave you feeling full yet refreshed. It looked heavy but it was incredibly delicate. A real winner.
On the summer menu my favourite dessert was the chocolate cherry sphere. It was a take on black forest gateaux. The classical combination of cherry, chocolate and kirsch is one of my favourites. We presented the dish to look like a small cherry on the forest floor surrounded by different textures using the same flavours.
My favourite winter dessert at Hakkasan was the Cashew and Alunga parfait. It is a very well balanced dessert that offers rich chocolaty and nutty textures and flavours.
We serve it with a garnish of freshly poached lemon segments, lemon comfit and lemon ice cream to help cut through the richness of the parfait. To finish, we fill the center of the parfait with a warm milk chocolate soup so that when the parfait reaches the guest it has already started to soften from the inside creating a much better consistency to eat.
Lemon and sesame tart at Hakkasan. Photo: courtesy of Hakkasan
And which was the best seller?
It’s difficult to say but I think that the best seller that we had last year was probably the lemon and sesame tart which was on our spring and summer menu. It was a really popular dish.
A classical dish balanced with some maybe not so classical flavours of tahini and honey. It proved to be a winner from the very start, on a busy night in each restaurant we could easily sell in excess of 130 portions.
It was a great way to end your meal with a light yet refreshing dish that left you wanting more.
Sesame and white chocolate bamboo at Hakkasan. Photo: Courtesy of Hakkasan
Which ingredient combined the best with chocolate last year?
Toasted sesame, white chocolate and kumquat. I am not a big fan of white chocolate, as most of my staff will tell you, but last year whilst working with my junior sous chef, Juan Pablo Colubri, we came up with this dessert called the Bamboo. We wanted to make a dish to resemble a small piece of bamboo that could be filled with different flavours. We discovered that by adding sesame oil to our chocolate it dulled some of the sweetness from the chocolate. Then, paring it with an acidic flavour like kumquat, really brought the whole dish together.
Coconut semifreddio with tonka, lime and bitter chocolate at Hakkasan. Photo: courtesy of Hakkasan
You are using a lot of chocolate, this made me curious: how much of it did you use in a year and which chocolate was used most?
Did you have any particular goals for 2015?
My main goal for last year was to produce more exciting and challenging desserts. I wanted this to to create some drive for my fourteen pastry chefs and keep me pushing myself to learn as much as I can to be a better manager for them.
Chocolate cherry sphere at Hakkasan. Photo: courtesy of Hakkasan
And what are your goals for 2016?
The same as last year, I believe that you never stop learning and it is very important to keep striving for perfection. I am incredibly lucky to have two teams of very talented pastry chefs around me, who keep me motivated and who always want to learn.
What do you wish to our readers for the future?
I hope that you all have a challenging and exciting time and manage to meet and exceed all of your own goals.