Leading women of the pastry world from the UAE, Saudi Arabia and France participated in a roundtable discussion organised on behalf of CNIEL - the French Dairy Board and the European Union.
The event, which was hosted at the Le Meridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina, featured chefs from some of Dubai’s leading hotels and bakeries including the QE2’s Ida Martin; Hind Al Mulla, Founder and Director of Home Bakery; and Aaliya Randeree, Head Chef and Founder of Butterworks Bakery.
The group also included UAE-based consultant chef Liz Stevenson and Saudi Arabia’s Najla Shamiri, while the 2017 French-based pastry chef of the year, Chef Nina Métayer, rounded out the group.
During the roundtable a range of topics were discussed ranging from sustainability, sourcing materials, teamwork, creating the perfect taste with the finest ingredients and quashing an outdated negative myth of women chefs’ abilities in the kitchen.
Chef Stevenson said: “All individuals bring something different to the kitchen regardless of gender. It should be about creating something that tastes good and is representative of the individual. There is still more that can be done to celebrate female chefs, however, looking around the table today we’re lucky to have a wealth of talented women performing at the very top of their game.”
This sentiment was echoed by Chef Métayer who places emphasis on teamwork in the kitchen, she said: “It’s important everyone in the kitchen is working together and showcasing the very best desserts and pastries, male or female has no bearing for me, it’s all about creating the best possible taste.”
The common Instagram term, ‘do it for the ‘gram’ was also discussed with several chefs frustrated by the importance of something looking ‘Instagram ready’ rather than tasting good.
Chef Martin added: “Taste is absolutely crucial in everything we do, it should touch every part of the soul, of course it should look good, but this should never be sacrificed for taste.”
Concluding the roundtable, Marie-Laure Martin, International Project Manager from CNIEL said: “Today has been about showcasing the incredible recipes and talent of the chefs from both here in the Middle East and internationally. The flair and passion on show has been incredible and we have been treated to some of the best pastries in the world.
“Cream and butter are essential ingredients in every pastry, their rich flavour and distinctive taste are what make the best pastries in the world! The versatility of the EU dairy ingredient is unique in that there is no other product on the market that comes close to duplicating the taste or consistency,” she added.
As part of the roundtable event the chefs were invited to whip up a storm and develop their own unique creations using the finest European cream and an assortment of other ingredients.
The quintessential array of treats included an “Authentically Emirati” entremet with cardamom and cinnamon whipped cream by Chef Al Mulla; a chocolate and orange entremet with pistachio whipped ganache by Chef Martin; and a walnut and dark chocolate pavlova, honey and rose infused whipped cream by Chef Randeree.
Chef Stevenson and Chef Shamiri showcased a dark chocolate cream, iced yogurt, nut caramel and black sauce, and a sticky date cake with salted caramel and infused Arabic coffee cream, respectively. Chef Métayer created a creamy grapefruit meringue and vanilla tonka Chantilly.
According to the latest research by the French Dairy Board, the UAE imported over AED36.2 million of French cream in 2018, a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 15.3% since 2010 and equating to 3,533 tonnes.