Daniel Pearse, Head Pastry Chef, Hakkasan London

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 21st October 2014

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Callebaut   08_bar_0285_2_300px_CMYKDaniel Pearse grew up in a small village in Somerset where he quickly fell in love with cooking and pastry. After a few years at a local hotel , he moved to London to learn all that he could about pastry before moving back home, or so he thought. Instead he got hooked and has been there ever since, first at Foliage at The Mandarin Oriental then under Claire Clark at The Langham then back to The Mandarin Oriental where he worked under Graham Hornigold. When Graham became executive pastry chef for Hakkasan Group, he asked Daniel to head up the pastry at Hakkasan’s two London restaurants, Mayfair and Hakkasan Hanway Place, where he creates light, refreshing desserts blending classic European techniques with oriental twists.   How did becoming Head Pastry Chef of Hakkasan London compare to the roles you had done before? Isles flottanteIt was a massive step up from what I was used to. Number one I had two restaurants to look after all of a sudden, both in different parts of London, so it was about building a strong core unit within each restaurant  which I could rely on to run the operations the way I wanted them to. It is very important to me that the standard is the same in both restaurants. For that to happen it takes a lot of hard work but we’ve got a very good team in both restaurants now who talk to me on a daily basis; they let me know what’s happening and it’s all very well structured. How do you divide your time between the two restaurants? It can be difficult but at times but I try to spread my time as evenly as I can between Hakkasan Hanway and Hakkasan Mayfair. I’m never happier than when I am in one of my own kitchens working with my teams, developing / training or maybe just working on a busy night’s service. For me that’s happy times because it’s nice when you see your Head Chef around and they’re working with you; it inspires your team to work hard and motivates them which is hugely important. It’s not an easy industry to stay in because it’s long hours and very gruelling but there’s a lot of positive things in our industry which people don’t necessarily see and if you work with your team and inspire them they will go on to inspire their own teams, and that’s my goal – to create young, inspirational pastry chefs of the future.Hakkasan dish On the other side, what do you find the more challenging aspects of your job? Trying to get people interested in the industry can be quite difficult because when you think of being a chef, you automatically think of being in the hot kitchen, not the pastry side of things. This has improved in the last few years with Great British Bake Off but Bake Off is not what we do. So it’s always challenging to get the right people into the industry but if we inspire them and show them what we’re about through demonstrations, in colleges or stagiaires and talking to students, then that’s what we will do.
Signature desserts Apple tatin (a very European dessert but in different restaurants we put different twists like using soy caramel or Chinese five spice). Chocolate marquise with poached kumquats and salted caramelised macadamias. Desert island desserts
  • Apple crumble and vanilla ice cream (comfort food just like my mum used to make)
  • Sticky toffee pudding
  • Black Forest gateau (my wife is German and whenever I go to Germany I get one)
  • Lemon tart (a really beautiful lemon tart is to die for)
Top cookbooks
  • The French Laundry Cookbook, Thomas Keller
  • La Pâtisserie de Pierre Hermé
  • Indulge: 100 Perfect Desserts, Claire Clark
  • CRUST and DOUGH, Richard Bertinet
  • Fusion Chocolate, Frederick Bau
  • Culinary Artistry, Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page (a great book for young chefs learning their trade)
How was it for you coming to terms with and learning about Oriental desserts; did that take a lot of research? When I came to Hakkasan it was very much a blank canvas. Chinese food has very strong flavours; there’s a lot of chillies, garlic and soy so when you come to a dessert, you want something that’s going to cleanse the palate. In many Chinese restaurants you’ll maybe just have some fruit like a watermelon or pineapple with a lot of acidity that can refresh you. So when I started working on desserts for Hakkasan, I was working along that line – it has to be cleansing, refreshing and light. We will service 1,300 covers on a good Friday in Hanway and Mayfair and see forty five percent dessert, so they must also be quick to dress and at one Michelin star standard. We are aiming at western clients so we work on traditional and classical flavours that we know work and then we modernise them and add our own little twist. If you take chocolate and orange for instance; it’s very classical but if you change the orange to a kumquat or calamansi, which has a greater acidity and more of an Asian flavour, that can act as a refresher, and if you use it with a chocolate with a higher acidity, that will also act as a refresher because it will make your mouth salivate, essentially it’s cleansing its own palate. How does dish creation work between you, Graham Hornigold and the rest of your team? I work closely with my teams and get them to contribute as much as they can with the development. This is all part of building them up as individuals, giving them the confidence in themselves to be able to create dishes in the future; any contribution can be relevant whether it is a garnish, ice cream or a complete dessert. We sit down and talk about them and brainstorm it out. Previously we had the lemon pot comprising lemon curd, lemon mousse, yoghurt sorbet, citrus crumble and caramelised puff straws and our take on tart Tatin with soy caramel and Bramley puree; these were both global Hakkasan desserts which were developed throughout the Mayfair kitchens. Once we have some ideas we start to create the dishes together, which we taste and critique and go again. Once we are happy we will present them to Chef Graham. He’ll then put his input in; he’ll tweak things or add things or occasionally he’ll just say yes we’re good to go. Then we have final tastings with the management team and they wine match with the sommeliers. Only after this, will we put a new dish on.Hanway Place What desserts have you been working on recently? We’re currently in the process of working on the autumn and winter menus. We’ve done a classic French dish, isles flottantes or floating islands; we make it with some Chinese five spice going through it; we’ve got some plums that have been poached in a little bit of sake and some orange juice and star anise, we serve it with a roasted almond Anglaise and a bitter almond ice cream. How does training work with the less experienced guys in the team?Chocolate marquise I’m a big believer in developing the guys that I have, bringing them up in the industry and developing the skills that they have. We have in-house training programmes obviously that we use. With the younger members of staff we give them opportunities to learn how to run the restaurant, run the section, do the ordering and learn how to do stock take, uploading recipes – all the tools are in place for their benefit to help them grow in the future. We have two previous chefs from Mayfair who now run Hakkasan Dubai and Shanghai, both of these chefs worked within Mayfair restaurant and developed through our in-house schemes.  I chat with them regularly and I am only a call or email away; essentially we all learn and develop together, sharing recipes ideas and knowledge.
The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 21st October 2014

Daniel Pearse, Head Pastry Chef, Hakkasan London