Ririn Biggs, from dreams of a career in law to head pastry chef
Ririn grew up in Indonesia in a family where her mother ran her own restaurant. The young girl wanted to study to become a lawyer, but her mother insisted she should go to a catering school. She listened to her and slowly fell in love with the profession. After finishing the catering school she decided to try to get an apprenticeship in London. She applied by email and got accepted. So, sixteen years ago she moved to London and started a challenging but rewarding journey. She went through all the sections of many kitchens, when one day, at Meridian Piccadilly, she was asked to help in the pastry section. This proved to be a life changing experience and she never went back to the savoury section. Now you can enjoy Ririn’s pastries at the St Ermin’s hotel in Westminster, where she is the head pastry chef.
When did you fall in love with chocolate and pastry?
It all started when I was called to help in the pastry section of the Meridian, London. I discovered pastry work and enjoyed it a lot. It was fascinating and in that moment I decided I would only work with pastry from that moment on. I started enjoying this work even more during my preparations for a competition. I had a great mentor and really learnt a lot while working with him. But at that time if somebody would have told me that one day I will become a head pastry chef, I would think they were crazy!
Where did you learn your profession and who were your best tutors?
I was learning it in Indonesia where I was studying food and beverage management. I had many amazing mentors and I remember each of them with a great respect and gratitude.
What was the best lesson you received?
Two years ago Martin Chiffers taught me the latest techniques in creation of a showpieces. I was working on a Christmas display and Martin’s tutoring was worth its weight in gold!
What do you love best about your work?
I love the creative process of it. It allows you to do things that seem impossible, beautiful and full of fantasy. It gives me a chance to express myself, like art.
What is inspiring you?
I find inspiration everywhere - on the streets, on a train, in my inner happiness, I get inspired every day.
What is your personal favorite chocolate dessert?
I love eating simple traditional desserts. One of my absolute favourites is a well-made sticky toffee pudding. From the desserts I am creating instead, I love best The Tanzania - it is made with caramelised banana and believe me, it is to die for.
And which is your favourite Cacao Barry chocolate and why?
My favourites are dark couverture Inaya and milk couverture Alunga from the Pureté range. Last year we had an exhibition with the Chef’s forum. I created a mix of Alunga milk chocolate mousse with berries and mint and another one with the Inaya dark chocolate cremeux and salted caramel. They were delicious!
You have recently been to Paris for a course organized by Cacao Barry with chef Martin Diez. What did you love best about it?
I loved everything about this course! I was surrounded by a group of amazing, super talented pastry chefs and learnt many new techniques which will be more than useful in my work. Our tutor, Martin Diez, was fantastic.
What is the most valuable bit knowledge you gained at this course?
I was admiring Martin Diez when he was mixing flavours. I was used to the classical combinations, but he challenged us to use spices and to push our limits. This was fantastic!
Which dessert at the course was your favourite?
My absolute favourite was the volcano - it is a perfect dessert from all points of view!
If you had to describe your Parisian experience with 5 words, what would they be?
In just two - simplicity and perfection. We all can make a dessert, but the difference is how you present it and how you come up with an idea. At the end you should be proud of what you did.
If you could choose any pastry chef in the world to learn from, who would it be?
I would love to learn from William Curley!
Do you have any particular plans for your future career?
Yes, in two years time I would like to open a small patisserie in Indonesia, share my UK acquired knowledge and make people happy with my sweet delights.