Three years into his career at the Mandarin Oriental, Head Pastry Chef Nelson Paz still has the same ambition he came to Boston with. Sharing a family-wide passion for food from a young age, he found that cooking made every day a special occasion. Applying that to his life now, Paz finds the beauty of pastry a way to bring people together for a joyous occasion.
By Brigitte Charest – Photographed by CRServices
When did you find yourself gravitating toward pastry? I was working in a French bistro as a line cook. It was exciting but I always found myself wanting to assist the pastry chef. I was drawn to the creativity of pastry, and the measurements and technical side of finding the right combination of ingredients.
Are there current trends in pastry? If so, what are they now? Are you using them? I think molecular gastronomy is popular. I want my guests to appreciate everything; appreciate that it looks good but tastes good as well. Many times the fashion of the dessert is put first but people care about the taste more.
What seasonal ingredients do you like to incorporate into your dishes? Spices can remind a person of a certain season; cinnamon for fall, lavender for spring, mint for summer. I am inspired by seasonal and local products. I do not like to compromise on the quality of my desserts.
How often do you re-vamp/create new dishes? I love to change the menu, try new things and keep it updated. I also like to try and modify recipes to make them healthier. A European chef started this idea; you have a product, make it taste better and just use less butter for example.
What is something an amateur baker could make to impress guests at a house warming party? The actual action of baking for your family and friends makes any dessert the best because your intentions of baking are for good reason. Time, effort, detail and delivery make the best desserts; it could be lavish or could be as simple as a scone. Desserts are all about appreciation.
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