We had the fabulous experience of hosting the one and only Chef Kong Yik Hong last week. He was here to conduct a first-of-its kind Sugar Art Demonstration for Pastry Chefs from 5 star hotels across the country. Chef Hong also conducted a four-day chocolate workshop, which focused on the importance of using couverture chocolate, along with a variety of other chocolate based products and techniques.
With a hugely successful first visit to the country, we caught up with the Master of Sugar, and asked him a little about his experience at Lavonne, global trends and whether he’d tried any local Indian food yet.
How has the experience of collaborating with Lavonne been?
Very good. I was pleasantly surprised to see what a great facility it is, and the experience of teaching here was very complete.
How do you feel about the students and the culture of learning here?
There is a good learning culture here. The students here are very passionate, and everyone has surprised me with their approach. It has been good.
What’s your take on the current situation of the Indian baking market?
One thing I noticed while teaching here is that a lot of people wanted to know if there were cheaper substitutes that were locally available for the ingredients being used in the classes. And I think that is the general approach towards the industry.
There needs to be a shift from this mentality. The mindset needs to become world-class, because there is no substitute for a good product. In baking, you shouldn’t settle for anything apart from the best. And there needs to be awareness from the consumer’s end as well, for this shift to take place.
What are the current trends you see becoming huge?
More than pastry, I think Chocolate work is becoming really big around the world. People are very interested in this field and it is growing in popularity.
What would you say is the biggest difference between the baking market here and back home?
The biggest difference I would say is the availability of products. Ingredients and machinery back home are of very good quality, and the machinery is very advanced. You can’t get these products here easily. My understanding is that it is quite hard to source them in India and it is very expensive to use those things here, in comparison.
Have you had any Indian food yet? Do you like it?
Actually, I was working in Dubai before this, so the food is not too different. But you get all kinds of food here. I plan to go out and taste some Indian street food as soon as I get free.
Would you come back again for future workshops?
Surely! If Lavonne will bring me back!
I really enjoyed myself and if I get a chance, I will come back. I look forward to teaching in India again soon.