Interview with Hans Pirhofer

Hans Pirhofer | 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.

I grew up in Insbruk, Austria where my family had a pastry shop for 35 years. I started helping out when I was 12 years old, at 15 I started an apprentiship at Konditorie Peintner for 3 years and made everything in house. I then worked as a pastry chef for the Corso Restaurant in Seefeld, a ski resort in Austria for 2 years. I then worked doing pastries in the family business for 5 years. I then moved to Marco Island in Florida and worked at the Marriott Hotel for 2 years as the pastry chef. I then came to Vancouver in 2000 and joined the Pan Pacific Hotel as the Chef de Partie for 8 years, was then promoted to Assistant Pastry Chef and in 2009 to head Pastry Chef.

Did you always want to be a pastry chef?

Yes it just happened, that’s all I have wanted to do until when I was older when I thought about being an architect.

Do you follow or apply a specific food design?

Keep it contemporary and trendy, from fashionable colours etc.

Where do you get inspiration?

Walking down Robson Street, cookbooks, magazines, anywhere and everywhere.

The 1st Dessert:

Caramelized Pineapple Tartin

Caramelized Pineapple Tartin

What is in the dessert?

Caramelized pineapple on top of eggnog parfait, caramelized chestnuts, crème anglaise and crème caramel and twill on top (bottom is a sweet dough cookie).

What was your inspiration behind this dessert?

Like a Tarte Tatin, I wanted to make it more exotic and put in pineapple instead of apple and be cold not hot, and added eggnog for the Christmas flavour.

Is there a pastry chef or two that inspire you?

  • Jean Philippe – at the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas
  • Thomas Peintner – in Austria

How would you describe your style of pastries at the Pan Pacific Vancouver?

  • Modern and classic.
  • Café Pacifica – more modern and trendy
  • Banquet desserts – are different with new flavours

The 2nd Dessert:

Chocolate Trilogy

Chocolate Trilogy

What is in the dessert?

1)    In photo –on left – Chocolate sour cherry tart with whipped cream baked black forest style

2)    In photo –middle – Sacher petit with apricot confit

3)    In photo –on right – Chocolate sorbet with orange foam and chocolate crumbs

What was your inspiration behind this dessert?

Get traditional with modern, combined such as the Blackforest Cake and the Sacher.

Describe the most elaborate wedding cake you have ever made?

It was a 7 tier wedding cake, each tier had a different flavour and we had 2 people working on it.

  • Bottom layer – cassis chocolate
  • 2nd layer – chocolate layer
  • 3rd layer – lemon cream
  • 4th layer – cherry champagne
  • 5th layer – coffee opera cake
  • 6th layer –passionfruit layer cake
  • 7th layer – raspberry chocolate mousse

Outside of the whole cake was fondant covered and pastiche flowers and ornaments. The cake served 300 people and we made it in Austria.

What was the most recent competition that you took part in?

I was part of Team Canada competing in the World Gelato Competition in Italy in January 2012.

What is your favourite Pastry Shop in Vancouver?

Thomas Haas

What is your favourite city in the world for pastries?


The 3rd Dessert:

Lemon Brioche

Lemon Brioche

What is in the dessert?

Brioche filled with lemon cream, lemon almond crust on top, crème Anglais around.

What was your inspiration behind this dessert?

I like to work with making bread, and wanted to make something with crunch.

How many people are in your pastry kitchen?


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


How do you make Caramelized Chestnuts?

Peel the chestnuts, caramelize the sugar, add brandy then add in the chestnuts, sits overnight to cook.

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

By: Richard Wolak

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