Waqar Ahmed’s passion towards the culinary world got ignited when he was a little boy helping his mother in the kitchen. After facing several odds and struggles along the way, the talent is glad to be working for what he truly loves and believes in. Today he delights the taste buds of many as a Pastry Chef of Hilton Bangalore Embassy Golf Links. Here, the expert takes us through his bitter-sweet journey and lets us in on some interesting tips when it comes to baking.
What sparked your interest in the culinary world, were you always interested in it?
I always had a love for food and cooking! My interest developed in childhood when I used to help my mom in the kitchen.
Could you tell us a bit about the journey? Were there any struggles along the way? If so, how did you overcome them?
The journey was not easy as there were a lot of struggles. But I never lost focus on my goal and overcame every obstacle by learning and working hard. After all, baking is my passion.
How did your family react to your line of interest?
In the beginning, my family was not happy with me working as a chef. They did not understand my choice of career as I belong to a middle-class family. But then after they realised my passion for the craft, they gave me a nod. They knew that this was my vocation.
How is it being a Pastry Chef?
The word defines everything. As a Pastry Chef, you don’t stop working after becoming one, you are constantly innovating and striving to be better. The responsibilities keep increasing and there is a lot of additional work. By the end of it, it feels good to be here as it is because of your hard work.
The art of pastry making is a complicated one, what are the key things one must consider while preparing a dessert?
Baking is an exact science; the basic principle is to follow the recipe. The right amount of ingredients must be added, and the proper method needs to be followed. Bake as if you are making it for your loved ones, make it from your heart and it will turn out to be good.
Where do most of the people go wrong?
People go wrong when they don’t use the correct ingredients and don’t follow the method. Baking requires patience and mistakes happen when done in a hurry.
Tempering chocolate is quite tricky too, what according to you is the right way to do it? Are there any tips for the same?
Tempering chocolate is an important step for any moulding chocolate. Always use the best quality chocolate you can find. As per the process, melt ⅔ rd of the chocolate in a double boiler until it reaches 44°C. Post that, remove it from the heat and add the rest of the chocolate. Lastly, stir until the temperature reaches to 29°C.
What do you feel distinguishes an ordinary chef from an extraordinary one?
Hard work, creativity and innovation are the things which distinguish ordinary from an extraordinary chef.
Do you have any favourite ingredients for cooking and how do you feel that they transform the dish?
My favourite ingredient is chocolate. I love working with chocolate as it can be moulded into anything (cakes, pastries, praline, chocolate and display pieces).
What is your favourite dessert and why?
This is quite a hard question, I can’t really choose a favourite dessert. There are way too many options!
Are there any tips to make home dessert expert like?
Quality and quantity of the ingredients matters. You should follow the proper recipe and bake with patience.
In all the years of the rich experience in the culinary world, what are the key things you have learnt along the way?
Everything I have learnt is with experience. Stay calm, have patience, work hard, be a team player, respect your teammates and enjoy your work.
Lastly, what advice would you give to those who want to become a Pastry Chef?
I think the food industry is one of the greatest fields to work in even though it is very competitive and harsh. It’s a job that is physically demanding and mentally draining at times, but the best part is seeing the smile a plate brings to a customer. That makes us feel happy and is our big accomplishment.