He heads the sweet station in seven restaurants and a bar, all within the luxurious Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong. More than 30 chefs follow his instructions to respond to ‘new and exciting projects to work on, from customized desserts for fashion brands to seasonal changes in the boutique to new desserts for the restaurants. That’s the beauty of working in luxury hotels like The Peninsula,’ said the much-admired chef Frank Haasnoot. From all of his experiences, from living in many countries, of countless local flavors, from exchanges… he uses what is necessary to meet any professional challenge. ‘I like to be challenged,’ he concludes throwing down the gauntlet. And as regards to ‘so good.. magazine’, Haasnoot once again far exceeds the challenge with three beautiful creations.
Could you talk about your current activity in the Peninsula Hotel HK?
The Peninsula Hong Kong is the flagship property of The Peninsula Hotels and is home to seven restaurants and a bar. I’m in charge of almost everything when it involves pastries and desserts.
We have a brigade of more than 30 chefs working in the pastry, bakery and chocolate kitchens. There are always new and exciting projects to work on, from customised desserts for fashion brands to seasonal changes in the boutique to new desserts for the restaurants.
That’s the beauty of working in luxury hotels like The Peninsula.
How would you describe your professional evolution since you won the World Chocolate Masters?
Ever since I won the WCM, I started to travel more and be more exposed to the hospitality industry. What I love about working in a hotel is the fact that you are working with so many chefs, and they all have a different expertise and come from a different background. My team inspires me, and at the same time, they teach me about their culture.
Living in different countries, learning from different cultures and trying different local foods expanded my knowledge, and I believe this can also be seen and sampled in my current work.
What are your sources of inspiration?
I like to be challenged – and with demanding conditions, you push yourself to come up with something unique; of course it doesn’t always work, but if it happens, the excitement is greater.
Social media is a good tool to see what other chefs are doing and how people see your work. This can be very inspirational, although I always try to use that inspiration to twist it, so it will become something personal and something that matches my style.
What is the only one thing you can not miss in a dessert?
Ice cream for sure. I love ice cream, who doesn’t?
Everything in pastry is about balance: balance of textures, flavours and temperatures.
So the combination of ice cream in a dessert is the key for me. A fruity sorbet can boost your dish, and at the same time it can refresh and accentuate the prime flavour.
What are the most surprising words that someone ever said about your creations?
Hahaha, difficult question. To be honest they’re mainly positive but I cannot recall anything really surprising.
What do you think about the pastry in Hong Kong and in Asia in general?
There is a very strong impression of internationalism in terms of cuisines in Hong Kong. All the big pastry brands are here as well, although there are not a whole lot of local pastry shops. The rent in HK is rather expensive, which makes it hard for chefs to open their own pastry shop.
You can see the growing demand for good quality pastry in Asia.
Besides the fact that Japan is a whole different level, what they do in some of the shops there is really impressive.
Tell us a bit more about the creations you present in so good.. magazine. What is the idea or concept?
If I design a product, I try to make something no one has ever made before or something that looks appealing to consume and of course beautiful to look at. I like classic flavours with a twist, like using certain spices, herbs, teas or flowers. So the products that I have created are beautifully presented and are bright in colours.