Interview with Romeo Maghirang

Romeo Maghirang | 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.

Originally from Manila, Romeo Maghirang started his culinary career as a steward, rising through the kitchen ranks though hard work and dedication.

In 1967 he started as a kitchen steward at the Manila Hilton. After seven months he asked for a transfer to the kitchen thinking cooking is a better skill than a dishwasher, he started in Garmanger cutting vegetables, brewing the coffee for the banquet, learning the a la carte menu for the four restaurants of the hotel. After four years, he moved to the bakery section and stayed there for a year, was then transferred to the pastry section. After eight years at the Hilton he moved to Manila Hotel to take the position of junior commis. After two years he was lucky to find a job at Elbow Beach in Bermuda where he was the assistant pastry chef and baker.

While in Bermuda he applied to immigrate to Canada.  His application to immigrate to Canada was approved and soon after he became the Chef de Partie at the Queen Elizabeth Hilton Hotel in Montreal.  While on holiday in Vancouver, Romeo fell in love with its beauty and culture; he decided to make it his home.  After arriving in Vancouver, he worked at Pohl’s Bakery and Conditorie for two years and then Pan Pacific Hotel where he joined his former pastry chef at Pohl’s. After 19 years as the Assistant Pastry Chef at the Pan Pacific Hotel, Romeo briefly retired in 2008, before he jumped back in the industry when the Pastry Chef at the Delta Burnaby Hotel and Conference Centre asked him to join his Pastry team. He has been at the Delta Burnaby since November 2008.

Did you always want to be a pastry chef?

No, I was studying to be an engineer, finances were tight and I needed a job to support my education. Hilton was hiring and since it is just fifteen minutes away from my school I applied for the lowest position: kitchen steward. I was hired and I was then a working student.

Do you follow or apply a specific food design?

I just mix and match, sometimes I use the old style ingredients and fusion with modern presentation.

Where do you get inspiration?

Sometimes from good pastry chefs, from books, Magazines such as Tchures (mostly French then) now (mostly Spanish) as well as German and Austrian influences.

The 1st Dessert:

Assorted Truffles & Chocolate Tree

Assorted Truffles & Chocolate Tree

What is in the dessert?

Chocolate tree – Calebaut dark chocolate

White chocolate flowers truffles

Pink Hawaiin salted caramel truffles

Raspberry pate with wasabi ganache

Is there a pastry chef or two that inspire you?

Ted Hara – I worked with him at the Pan Pacific Hotel for 19 years. He retired and then went to the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts to teach. I also worked with him at a Polish bakery for 2 years before the Pan Pacific.

The 2nd Dessert:

Bledermeiertorte

Bledermeiertorte

What is in the dessert?

Bottom – Japanese meringue with hazelnut

Apricot jam

Hazelnut mousse & chocolate mousse and caramelized hazelnut

Sweetened whipped cream

Top – Covered with dark calebaut chocolate

What was your inspiration behind this dessert?

You, I thought what dessert could I make and since you asked me to create something new this is what I created. You were coming in to interview me on July 28th and since I knew it was your 2nd Anniversary for Vancouver Foodster I decided to creating something special.

How would you describe your style of pastries at EBO?

Fusion and modern and classical for the pastries in the restaurant, and a simpler style for the banquets.

Describe the most elaborate wedding cake you have ever made?

Six tier wedding cake with sugar gum paste (harder fondant), cut out and made a design, let it dry and stick together.

What is your favourite Pastry Shop in Vancouver?

Thomas Haas

What is your favourite city in the world for pastries?

New York

The 3rd Dessert:

Peanut Butter Ice Cream Tower with warm soft brownie

Peanut Butter Ice Cream Tower with warm soft brownie

What is in the dessert?

Peanut butter ice cream

Warm chocolate sauce

Mango gelee

Raspberry cassis brush

Chocolate brownie

 

What was your inspiration behind this dessert?

Combined different shapes and textures

How many people are in your pastry kitchen?

Me and 2 more assistants

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

By: Richard Wolak