An executive pastry party
I love pies and cakes and when an opportunity to meet one of the finest chefs of a luxurious five star resort presented itself, I knew I would not be disappointed.
Puneet Khanna, 31, is the executive chef at the Baobab Beach Resort & Spa, Diani, South Coast.
We arrived just when the chefs were putting final touches to a well laid out lunch buffet to the hotel’s 250 guests.
At one corner of the buffet table were all manner of enticing pastries, ice creams and cakes. This also happened to be the ladies’ choice corner. Chef Khanna set out to explain how the best on the table gets prepared.
"We go for the best quality ingredients and apply the best operational methods to get quality cakes and pastries," he says.
Different types of pastries prepared by the hotel’s pastry division are on display. They include almond croissants, Berliners, chocolate doughnuts, muffins and Danish pastries, which is quite popular among guests. These are best served as part of breakfast.
Presentation, we learn, is an important part of pastry and dessert preparation. For this reason, the baked products, according to Khanna, also have lots of stuffings like apricots, prunes, sultanas to enhance taste and flavour.
For lunchtime buffet such as the one we were about to partake in, Khanna says an array of desserts that includes traditional cakes; exotic pastries and fresh fruits are served.
There are also crunchy and baked desserts like caramelised nuts accompanied with apple strudel and bake-well puddings. And keeping in line with satisfying various tastes of customers, the chef says they have introduced gluten free bread and sugar free desserts. These are served to diabetic guests while high nutrient breads are mainly for children.
"In our menu, the emphasis lies in provision of fresh fruit-based cakes and pastries to enhance and keep the buffet’s freshness," he says.
The resort’s General Manager, Adam Sheikh, says pastries date back to the ancient Mediterranean times with Medieval Europe taking on pastry making after crusaders brought it back.
"Pastries’ chefs use a combination of culinary ability and creativity in baking, decorating and flavouring," the manager says.
With a professional pastry team of 12 chefs, Khanna says they are able to prepare even African culture desserts comprising of local delicacies like mahamri, kaimati and kashatas.
Special event cakes for weddings, honeymoon, anniversaries and product launches can also be baked on order.
As we sit down for lunch, each one of us felt that, in our own way, we had become pastries’ expert in a matter of minutes.
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