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Richmond Station pastry chef Farzam Fallah’s sweet mise en place

Richmond Station pastry chef Farzam Fallah’s sweet mise en place

Click to see a larger version. (Image: Renée Suen) Click to see a larger version. (Image: Renée Suen)
 

A chef’s work station is hallowed ground. For Farzam Fallah, Richmond Station’s boy-genius pastry chef, it’s where he transforms dessert from a “maybe if there’s room” thing to a “gotta have it now” one. With his wildly inventive takes on classics like cheesecake and butter tarts or his Willy Wonka–like creations, he always manages to turn the last course into the main event. “Desserts are entertainment,” Fallah says. “Food is the only thing that excites all five sense at once.” Here, he takes us through the mise en place elements of his playful take on crème brûlée—available only until the end of April.

1
The first component to go on the plate is an airy piece of angel food cake, made from meringue and tapioca flour flavoured with vanilla bean, which gives the dessert a bit of chew.
2
Fallah creates the crème element out of a traditional custard base of cream and egg yolks, but adds white chocolate for flavour, and agar—a vegetarian gelatin made from algae—for structure. It’s cooked like a pudding and sliced into thin, rectangular slabs.
3
Tapioca pearls are turned into crispy, colourful wafers by being boiled, then dehydrated, quickly deep-fried and finally, dusted with a powder of dehydrated wild blueberry pulp.
4
The deep purple swoosh that circles the plate, and the stuff that fills Fallah’s squeeze bottle, is a gel made of simmered wild blueberries and citric acid, with a little more agar thrown in for texture.
5
Fallah isn’t a big fan of the stickiness that traditional white or brown sugar lend to a brûléed crust. Instead, he uses a microplane to finely grate a puck of palm sugar over the custard. After being torched, the palm sugar provides the same caramelized flavour, minus the stick.
6
Using spoons that he kept as souvenirs from his days at Ruby Watchco, Fallah carefully doles out almond pebbles. To make them, almond flour is mixed with vegetable oil and maltodextrin (a sweet, starch-based thickener), then toasted in the oven. A few shakes of the pan every now and then produces a bunch of tiny, crunchy spheres that add some crunch to the crème.
7
A few more wild blueberries, lightly simmered, add a sweet, syrupy note.
8
The final element of the dessert is a quenelle of borage flower and orange blossom ice cream. Fallah uses a yolk-free gelato base and freezes it the old-fashioned way by (no Pacojet, please; Fallah’s a purist when it comes to mechanics). The creaminess, along with the fruity notes and crunchy tapioca wafer, make the whole dessert as much Fruity Pebbles as it is French fine dining.