CRAFT by Under My Host® Issue No. 15 Classics - Page 131

then the object here is just to get it as deli- cious as possible). Yotam might swing by if I want to get a second opinion, then we have a final tasting before I write the recipe up. From here, it goes to either our Bakery production unit, who will test to see if the recipe is fea- sible for large scale production, or else to the individual pastry chefs in each of the stores for them to produce. This sounds easier than it is in reality as the conditions vary from my kitchen so there can be quite a bit of tweak- ing and adjusting until it formally becomes an “Ottolenghi product.” How, if at all, do your Australian upbringing and Chinese Malaysian heritage influence you in the kitchen? I have a great deal of creative freedom in my role at Ottolenghi. For the most part, it is up to me to develop products, anything that cap- tures my imagination and that I think would fit the stores. Occasionally I will be directed by feedback from our shop staff, or particu- lar customer requests. Inspiration can come from anywhere—travels, books, conversa- tions etc. For example, recently, after a friend raved about a Bakewell tart she had eaten, I thought it was time I had a go at making it. I’d never really understood the appeal of the Bakewell, it always struck me as being kind of unbalanced—sweet pastry, jam and cake alto- gether, and always a bit … dry. So I began by making a traditional version, then bit by bit I deconstructed it, then reworked each compo- nent; the pastry base, the cakey middle, var- ying the nuts, adding fresh fruit, playing with the temperature of the bake etc. As is the pro- cess with most recipes, there are often a num- ber of combinations and permutations before I feel I have a product that is ‘new’. It doesn’t necessarily have to be entirely original, but it does need to have some angle or point of dif- ference (unless it is a completely classic thing, like chocolate chip cookies, for example, and Australia has great produce and Australians in general, take their food very seriously, so in that context my obsessiveness is not out of place. Chinese Malaysians are also quite crit- ical when it comes to food, and dislike other people messing with their cuisine, and I’d have to say that I’m a bit of a purist at heart. I still romanticize about the street food in Malaysia, and love the hawker stalls where it is not un- common to find generations of one family to- tally committed to making just one dish year after year. I identify with this idea of trying to get things right, and taking pride in doing it well over and over again. Food is also syn- onymous with hospitality for the Chinese—all occasions big and small are celebrated with food—and we show our love and appreciation through our cooking. Where do you find culinary inspiration? Truly, everywhere! Reading is a huge source, and talking to people from other cultures is another. For example, I have a friend whose family came from Iran, and earlier this year I made some traditional Persian sweets to take to Nowruz, the celebration of their new year. I had never made them before, but was guided by a book my friend had given me (Margaret Shaida’s The Legendary Cuisine of Persia). One of the items was a pastry made with yo- © Hundred-to-One LLC 2017. All rights reserved.