Interview with Arthur Chen

Arthur Chen| Vancouver

Vancouver is home to some of the best pastry chefs in the world, many have worked for the top chefs and restaurants around the world as well as around the city. Star Pastry Chefs is a series of Interviews with some of the top chefs in and around Vancouver, within the interview each chef is to prepare or finish off three of his/her signature desserts.

Arthur trained at the Sheraton in Shanghai for 6 months as a pastry artist, then opened the Sheraton in Tianjin as the pastry chef. He then moved to the USA to work as a chef/hospitality at Walt Disney World in Florida for 2 years. Then moved to Vancouver worked at the Fairmont Waterfront for awhile then worked at the Pan Pacific Vancouver for 10 years from 1998-2008. He then worked to open the Delta Burnaby Hotel in 2009 and then worked to open the Fairmont Pacific Rim in 2010 and where he is currently. While working he had been competing in a variety of pastry competitions over the years winning many gold medals. Some of the competitions that he has participated in were:  Pastry Coach of Culinary Team Canada 2008; Pastry Chef of Culinary Team Canada 2005-2007; Pastry Chef of Culinary Team British Columbia, 2004; Pastry Team Canada 2002 WPTC, Las Vegas; and Pastry Artist of Culinary Team British Columbia, 2000.

Did you always want to be a pastry chef?

I wanted to be an artist, spent time drawing, claying and sculpting. Then when I grew up I wanted to be an architect, an opportunity opened up back home in China, at the Sheraton hotel and I was asked to become a pastry chef.

Do you follow or apply a specific food design?

I have my own creativity to create cakes and desserts in house.

Where do you get inspiration?

I get a lot of ideas from the competitions that I have competed in, flavour ideas and ingredients with some from Asia since this hotel has a large Asian clientele.

The 1st Dessert:

8 Texture Chocolate Dessert

8 Texture Chocolate Dessert

What is in the dessert?

  • Chocolate sauce
  • Chocolate streusel
  • Chocolate sorbet
  • Chocolate mouse
  • Dry chocolate mouse
  • Chocolate garnish
  • Candied cocoa nibs
  • Chocolate ganache cake
  • Top layer chocolate
  • Bottom layer crunchy coconut

What was your inspiration behind this dessert?

Chef David Wong’s idea to put all the chocolate ingredients together—its been popular since day 1 and is still on the ORU dessert menu.

Is there a pastry chef or two that inspire you?

Ted Hara – was a pastry chef at the Pan Pacific Hotel, now a teacher at Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts. I worked for him for 10 years from the cooking side to personal leader in competitions.

Edward Notter – sugar master who owns the Notter Pastry School in Florida.

The 2nd Dessert:

Sugar Bun

Sugar Bun

What is in the dessert?

  • Brioche dough
  • Butter
  • Sugar
  • Pastry cream
  • Whipping cream

What was your inspiration behind this dessert?

This was created by one of our bakers in the hotel, but its an American idea with a little Italian thrown in.

How would you describe your style of pastries at ORU? And at Giovane?

In ORU it is Pan Asian ingredients in a more North American style.

In Giovane it is more Italian style, Americana coffee shop. Everything is huge, we have created our own ‘signature’ cakes (Martha Stewart style).

Describe the most elaborate wedding cake you have ever made?

It was a Raspberry, flourless sponge for a Persian wedding at the Delta Burnaby Hotel for 400 people – it was gluten free and dairy free. First I created a cake in 4 tiers that was a cake with only one corner to slice for the bride & groom. Then I made a slab cake to cut for all the guests. A year later the same lady tracked me down here at the Fairmont and ordered the same cake for her 1st year anniversary.

What is your favourite Pastry Shop in Vancouver?

Thomas Haas

What is your favourite city in the world for pastries?

Luxembourg

The 3rd Dessert:

Teardrop Chocolate Ganache Cake

Teardrop Chocolate Ganache Cake

What is in the dessert?

  • Almond cookie base (bottom layer)
  • Ganache layer
  • Flourless sponge cake
  • Vanilla cream
  • Raspberry jelly
  • Cream
  • Flourless sponge
  • Chocolate mouse
  • Chocolate glaze to give a shiny appearance
  • Topped with fruits etc

What was your inspiration behind this dessert?

I created this cake which I used for one of my competitions in Germany in 2004. I wanted to do a different shape to make it interesting.

How many people are in your pastry kitchen?

8 people in the pastry kitchen – out of that 4-1/2 people are doing Giovane from bread to cookies to biscotti and sugar buns; and the rest are doing the banquets, in room dining, desserts, restaurant and afternoon tea.

Stay tuned for the next chef in the Star Pastry Chef series.

By: Richard Wolak