FOOD is quite like fashion and like the consummate designer, Werner Schanzl takes note of culinary trends to come up with the latest pastries.
“Pastry recipes are hundreds of years old; what keeps the pastries current are the trends because there is a good market for pastries even in Malaysia – the variety of Nyonya kuih you find here is indication enough,” said Shangri-La Hotel Kuala Lumpur's newest executive pastry chef who came on board the hotel a month ago.
The 32-year-old Austrian-born has had a deep love for the art of confectionery since his teenage years, and his flair for confectionery, sugar craft and wedding cakes has taken him to Germany, Austria, Monaco, Qatar and the Philippines, as well as on board the Celebrity Cruise Lines of Miami and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines of Miami.
“What makes a good pastry or dessert – besides it keeping with the current trend and preferences of the people – is presentation, taste and a good combination of flavours,” he explained, adding that he had also been getting used to the food culture in Malaysia.
Since coming on board, Schanzl has been busy introducing new food concepts, pastries, breads, cakes and desserts (his “playground” includes the Lemon Garden, Lemon Garden 2Go and Cinnamon outlets), making changes and learning how to make local kuih.
“It's been interesting but busy, busy, busy since I got here. I'm starting with a whole new set of pastries, breads in all the outlets beginning with Lemon Garden 2Go,” said the chef whose day is choc-a-bloc from 8am to 10pm.
Schanzl is in charge of making 10 to 12 different types of pastries daily, which include breads and cakes, as well as homemade compotes, jellies, chocolates, sherbets and ice creams.
Currently, he is working on cakes for the upcoming festive seasons, including a pumpkin cake for Halloween and traditional log cakes for Christmas.
While Schanzl is adamant on making huge ripples in the hotel where pastries are concerned, there are a few challenges in his path – all of which he plans to take in his stride.
“The chefs are mostly very young and eager to learn, but they come and go. It's this constant re-training of new staff that can be tedious, but that's something we have to face.”
Ultimately, Schanzl's mission in the next two years is to leave his mark at Shangri-La Hotel Kuala Lumpur.
“I don't want Shangri-La to be known only for its nice rooms. I want it to be the benchmark for the best desserts and pastries in town.”