Interview with Suraj Karmakar

Suraj Karmakar | 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.

Chef Suraj has travelled the world improving moods and moments with his delicious desserts and innovative breads. Prior to joining the Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver he came from the Four Seasons Hotel at Pudong Shanghai.

Suraj has been with the luxury global brand for more than a decade, enjoying his pastry focus in the Maldives, Singapore and Bali with additional opportunities in the Seychelles, Seoul, Tianjin and Hangzhou at Westlake. He brings further experience from India’s Oberoi Hotels & Resorts where he earned a Hotel Management and Catering diploma from India’s Institute of Hotel Management, followed by a post-graduate Kitchen Management certificate at Oberoi and additional training from the L’Ecole Valrohna in Tokyo.

You can follow Chef Suraj Karmakar on instagram @chefsuraj_k

Did you always want to be a pastry chef?

No, after I started working when I joined hotel management, saw the pastry kitchen and that it was peaceful, that was 15 years ago; seeing the creativity and I learned it all from scratch as I wasn’t trained as a pastry chef. It took me 3 years to learn the basics and to move on.

Where do you get inspiration?

These days on social media, I see what people are doing in the other parts of the world, what is happening globally, the latest and the fastest. These days once you have your basics and you have your recipes creating new things isn’t difficult.

The 1st Dessert:

Caramelized Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Caramelized Pineapple Upside Down Cake

What is in the dessert?

Caramelized Pineapple Upside Down Cake with Devonshire cream, the pineapple was caramelized and cooked in the oven with some nice cream, looks very simple but it is a vey tasty dessert.

What was your inspiration behind this dessert?

One of my personal childhood favourites, I always wanted to put it on the menu but I put it on for a special events like this one. This will be a feature dessert during our Spot Prawn season boil.

Is there a pastry chef or two that inspire you?

Chef Antonio Bachour in Miami

The 2nd Dessert:

Pineapple Carpaccio

Pineapple Carpaccio

What is in the dessert?

More of a gluten free option, thin slices of Pineapple done as a Carpaccio with pink peppercorns flakes and crème fraiche sorbet. This one is currently on my dessert menu in the restaurant.

What was your inspiration behind this dessert?

It’s a Tropical inspiration, I lived in Bali for four years, the idea comes from there, very light dessert.

How would you describe your style of desserts/cakes at Yew and the Four Seasons?

Simple, but I play with flavours, presentation is a bit modern, keep the flavour simple and neat. I don’t mix fusion or flavours too much.

The 3rd Dessert:

Hazelnut Rocher Flower Pot

Hazelnut Rocher Flower Pot

What is in the dessert?

Chocolate shell glazed red for the outside base, filled with hazelnut rocher, chocolate flower, all edible.

What was your inspiration behind this dessert?

Mothers day, it is about flowers and that is how I thought about creating it, an occasion to feature it.

What is your favourite Pastry Shop in the world outside of where you work?

Bachour Miami

What is your favourite city in the world for pastries?

Tokyo, Japan  – I was there for 6 months but in every shop they cut cakes with sharpness and precision.

The 4th Dessert:

Strawberry Pannacotta Verine

Strawberry Pannacotta Verine

What is in the dessert?

Verine is a term we use when we feature a dessert in a glass. With chocolate rice krispies to give it crunch and strawberry jellies. These will be for Mother’s Day brunch dessert.

What was your inspiration behind this dessert?

I take the best seller in the restaurant which is my Hidden Garden and then I changed it to fit the Mothers Day theme and made it more simple for a buffet as a smaller dessert.

How many people are in your pastry kitchen?

11

If you weren’t a pastry chef what do you think you’d be doing?

Astronaut

The 5th Dessert:

Strawberry Pannacotta Verine

Strawberry Pannacotta Verine

What is in the dessert?

With fresh blueberries. These will be for Mother’s Day brunch dessert.

What was your inspiration behind this dessert?

I take the best seller in the restaurant which is my Hidden Garden and then I changed it to fit the Mothers Day theme and made it more simple for a buffet as a smaller dessert. This one is similar to the other one just doesn’t have chocolate.

Chef Suraj and his YEW Hazelnut Rocher 2.0

Is there anything you have wanted to do that you haven’t done yet?

Something with liquid nitrogen, trying to figure out how to store the tanks. I haven’t had any challenges in Vancouver yet.

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

By: Richard Wolak