I have had the pleasure to work with and learn from the amazing Manfred Rindler for the past two months at the Shanghai Callebaut Academy. He was lovely to work with, always patient in explaining and demonstrating everything to me. He was also very generous in providing me with opportunities to create products for his customers at the kitchen, which meant that I was able to work with chocolate a lot!
After attending the two short courses at William Angliss at the end of last year, I was waiting for the right timing to re-create some of the cakes and macarons I learned: one to show my family that their investment in me was worth it, another was to prove that I have gained something useful out of the courses.
Ah, Laduree, the mother of macarons! I was so excited when I heard that Laduree has finally arrived in Shanghai so I made it a point to visit this place before I leave in a couple of weeks time!
I have very fond memories of Laduree, not because they make the best macarons I have ever tasted, but because my very first macaron experience was in Laduree’s London branch. I bought a pistachio and a dark chocolate macaron back then, and I was in heaven. The macarons weren’t overly sweet, and had a nice almond flavour in addition to the chocolate/pistachio flavour. It was then I started paying more attention to these beautiful treats!
Since that experience, I have tried many macarons, good and bad over the years and have slowly formed my own expectations on what good macarons should taste like: crispy shell, chewy centre, intense flavour and not sickeningly sweet. I don’t care much for the colour of the shells – it is the taste and texture that I am looking for.
Other than macarons from other patisseries, I have also tried macarons from the Paris and Singapore store and I have to say, I wasn’t at all impressed with what I tasted, especially given that they’re meant to be one of the best in the world (along with Pierre Hermes)
It is located in the Xuhui district, in Grand Gateway Mall, on ground floor, right opposite Tiffany & Co. What a clever location, it is surrounded by all the luxury brands in the Mall – which probably shares the same clientele as Laduree.
Shanghai is a massive city and there are a lot of patisseries and chocolatiers here. However, over the past five months, I have discovered that most of them are of a lower standard when compared to those overseas. A lot of them look nice on the outside, sporting the Parisian-Lauduree decor and beautiful packaging, but their products are fundamentally flawed in the taste department.
So I am always excited when I come across a good local patisserie, or an International brand when I’m exploring Shanghai. Today, I will be talking about my experience at Jean-Paul Hevin.
After Kirsten’s demonstrations here in Shanghai, she gave me a few bags of Callebaut Origins Callets as gifts. I gave a couple away to my classmates because most of them have never tried Callebaut chocolates before, and I decided to make moulded chocolates with the remaining 3 packets of Ecuador, Madagascar and Sao Thome dark chocolates.
During a conversation with Kirsten in my final class at Savour last November, I found out that she would be having a demonstration in Shanghai in May 2014 and she asked if I wanted to help her out (since I will be here in Shanghai for my language course). I immediately jumped at the opportunity to help her because when else will I be able to work so closely with a world famous patissiere and chocolatier? Unless of course, I pay for her classes or somehow become her apprentice or work for her.
A few months went by and I finally got to assist her in her demonstration in May! I did a lot of weighing up and chocolate roasting, which was good practice given the precision, and in turn patience, that is required in patisserie. In addition, I also got to watch the magic happen in her kitchen during a demonstration where only invited professionals got to attend!
I was around Tianzifang a couple of weekends ago and remembered that Besyo was within walking distance, so I decided to try this place out since it had quite a high rating on Dianping (online reviews app). We arrived at around 4pm on a Sunday and we had to wait for 10 minutes for a table since it was packed with dine-in customers.
I have been volunteering (and in a way getting free private training) at the Shanghai Callebaut Academy. Manfred Rindler is the ambassador for Callebaut in China and he spends a lot of time doing R&D and other work in the Callebaut Kitchen. A few days ago I went to help out again and I got to watch the enrobing of pralines using a enrobing/tempering chocolate machine!!! I also got the chance to operate the machine myself.
Prior to my recent trip to Beijing, I asked around for patisserie recommendations that I should visit and one of them was The Sweet Spot (by China World). I made some quick Google searches to set myself some expectations. Judging from the comments and the photos of the products posted by their customers, it seemed to have a more “Chinese/Asian” vibe than the French/Western feel that I was hoping to find in the recommendations that I was given.
I visited on a Monday afternoon around lunch time and there was a small corporate lunch crowd buying sandwiches, cakes and other light snacks. The display cases they had were mainly filled with whole cakes (and the corresponding slices), which were predominantly mousse cakes and cheesecakes. Then there was the display case filled with their best sellers: Cream Horns in all sorts of flavours.
After some brief interaction with the sales assistants, I decided to try their best selling “Original cream horn” and “blueberry cheesecake”.
Original Cream Horn