Heather Kaniuk’s Christmas - between the Southern and the Northern Hemisphere
Heather Kaniuk, the executive pastry chef of the Shangri-La at the Shard moved to the UK from New Zealand. We talked with her about Christmas on her beautiful green island and at her new home.
Christmas is just around the corner. How do you like to celebrate Christmas? Do you have any special family tradition?
I grew up in New Zealand so Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere is usually warm and involves a BBQ and a trip to the beach with the family! Christmas in the UK is the total opposite of course and I have really embraced the festive traditions here. At home, we prepare a Christmas roast with all the trimmings and sit in front of the open fire with warm mince pies and brandy sauce. It’s wonderful!
What is your favourite sweet delight that you serve for Christmas at home?
Pavlova! It’s the national dish in New Zealand and we serve it complete with a mountain of fresh berries, cherries and kiwifruit. In England, I’ve become partial to a boozy Christmas pudding, and a nap afterwards!
What about your Christmas collection at the hotel? Can you tell us a bit about it?
Our festive afternoon tea is a modern interpretation of traditional European flavours and is perfectly paired with our extensive selection of signature Shangri-La teas. A couple of my favourites include the Mulled Wine and Spiced Pear Tart and a chestnut, vanilla and cassis Buche de Noel. The Fig, Mascarpone and Panettone Delice takes its inspiration from Italy and the colourful candy cane macaron is proving popular with both new and regular guests.
Did you use lots of chocolate in your Christmas desserts?
During the colder months we feature richer, chocolate based desserts on to match the season. A great example is our signature Or Noir dark chocolate which is paired with clementine’s, candied fruits and a chocolate dentelle. Our signature chocolate truffles currently include spiced orange caramel, mulled wine ganache, and mince pie flavours, and in our festive macarons we feature Eggnog, Douglas Fir, and peppermint.
In which desserts did you use chocolate and what did you pair it with?
The Dark Chocolate Clementine Delice is made combining a flourless chocolate sponge with Or Noir dark chocolate orange mousse, and is served with a light mandarin yoghurt ice-cream. The Buche de Noel is paired with the signature Or Noir milk chocolate which complements the chestnut and vanilla flavours. The new Iced Christmas Parfait brings together Cacao Barry Zephyr white chocolate with candied citrus, cranberries and pistachios.
What is for you your favourite Christmas dessert from your collection and why?
My favourite dessert from our afternoon tea collection would have to be the Buche de Noel, as chestnuts are something I look forward to during the winter months. It’s paired with a vanilla crème brulee, cassis compote and a spiced speculoos biscuit, and a shiny milk chocolate glaze.
Looking now at the year behind you, what are you most proud of and what are you wishing for you for the next year?
Growing and developing the pastry team has definitely been my greatest achievement this year. They are a fantastic team, with each individual truly gifted and passionate about their craft. I count myself very lucky to be leading and mentoring such a skilled team. The greatest reward is seeing each team member succeed and shine.