As summer fades out of view and autumn falls upon London, it brings with it a crispness to the mornings and darker nights. The trees turn resplendent shades of bronze, gold and red, scattering forgotten leaves to the floor. There is a drifting tang of smoke in the air; the smell of wood fires, the smoke of bonfires.
Autumn also brings about a wistfulness for certain types of food. This time of year encourages a hankering for the earthy taste of mushrooms; the heady liquor of blackberries; the sweet richness of pumpkin. These are ingredients at their peak, and to eat these foods is to eat them at their very best.
How important is seasonality in the Yauatcha patisserie collections?
Seasonality is very important when developing our new collections of patisserie.
We try and use seasonal produce where we can, ensuring that each ingredient is at its most flavoursome. When pairing desserts with Chinese cuisine, they need to cleanse the palate, meaning that the flavours should be clean and not overpowering. As we work with fruit a lot in our desserts, it’s important that we choose fruit at its ripest: doing so means that we don’t need to do a lot, allowing the ingredients to shine without adding any extra unnecessary sugars and sweeteners.
How do the new petits gateaux and macarons celebrate autumnal ingredients?
Each of the new desserts pays homage to autumnal ingredients in one way or another.
The Autumn forest fruits showcases the classic flavours of the season, using ripe and juicy plums and blackberries alongside red wine, while the Pear bavaroise blends flavours of spiced and toasted gingerbread with roasted plum and aromatic bergamot.
Our five new macarons also highlight traditional autumn flavours, drawing inspiration from nostalgic childhood desserts and treats such as apple crumble and jaffa cakes as well as comforting flavours of spiced pumpkin.
Have you used any interesting ingredients in the new collection?
Yauatcha is, at the heart, a dim sum teahouse, so we’ve used a roasted blue tea called Anxi Tie Kuan Yin in one of our macarons, infusing a ganache with tea to give it a smoky, delicate flavour.
We’ve also roasted rice and infused this into rice milk to create a ganache for our new toasted rice chocolate.
Are any of the patisserie vegetarian or gluten free?
We always create a couple of petits gateaux for different dietary requirements. Both the Mandarin chocolate tart and the signature Chocolate pebble are vegetarian, while the Tropical dome is gluten free, as are all of the macarons bar the apple crumble.
How do you develop each new seasonal collection?
We’re always working on new patisserie and brainstorming ideas in the pastry kitchen.
Alongside Chef Antoine Bled, Head Pastry Chef at Yauatcha, we work closely with the pastry chefs to explore new patisserie creations. Some take almost no work at all – from the offset they’re nearly the finished item, and only need a few tweaks – while others need a couple of weeks or months of development until they’re ready for the showcase, and some others never make it at all.
What is your main focus in the industry at the moment?
It makes me proud to see Hakkasan Group producing great pastry chefs.
We focus internally explicitly on mentorship, fostering talent from a young age and providing the training they need to go on to become excellent pastry chefs in their own right.
We are producing the future generation of pastry chefs, and it’s really exciting being in the kitchen and facilitating the progression of their careers.