Saturday, September 21, 2013

Afternoon tea and pastry with Guest Chef Yann Duytsche in the Gazebo Lounge at Cırağan Palace Kempinski

When Istanbullis want a sweet treat, they frequently head to the Gazebo Lounge at the Cırağan Palace Kempinski. The lounge has that see-and-be-seen stir of elegant people discussing engaging things while enjoying exceptional edibles. Were the food not so outstanding, it would be easy to take one's eyes off the edibles to appreciate all of the assembled aficionados of delectable desserts.

But it is actually impossible to stop looking at the food. The Gazebo Lounge features the pastry of Master Chocolatier and Philadelphian, Executive Pastry Chef William McCarrick, who was recognized by the entire Kempinski hotel chain when his dessert was selected 2013 Dessert of the Year in a blind taste test.  His creation is a sweet called the Bosphorale, combining bergamot-scented Earl Grey tea from the Black Sea region, and Turkish apricots from Kayseri with the finest Swiss Valrhona chocolate under a shiny glaze.

Talent greets talent:
Chef William McCarrick on the right
host to Chef Yann Duytsche, on the left
This year the Gazebo Lounge is celebrating its dessert destination status by inviting three world-class guest chefs to share their creativity with the Istanbul food-obsessed community. Pastry Chef William McCarrick suggested Frenchman Yann Duytsche as the very first guest chef for the Gazebo Lounge at Cırağan Palace Kempinski. Yann Duytsche is from northern France in Lille but finds himself drawn to the food cultures of the Mediterranean. He owns his own pastry shop in Barcelona, Spain named 'dolç par yann duytsche.'
 
Chef Yann suggests anyone visitng his shop in Barcelona try his signature breakfast sweet, the Karre Mango Croissant, and then take home his bestselling dark chocolate and passion fruit cake plus two or three kinds of cookies.
 
When Chef Yann asked where I was from, I shared that I was American. He said "America has delicious dessert creations - maybe not so sophisticated -but we all make them: cheesecake, cookies, brownies, and carrot cake."

 The chocolate club sandwich features
a crisp caramelized puff pastry. 
Chef Yann begins to assemble his
chocolate club sandwich
with help from Zeynep.
 
Notice the luscious green pesto
made of roka (arugula) and pine nuts.
It's a trend new to me to feature vegetables
in pastry.
 
A smudge of pesto
and a splash of carrots & apricot
nest a sandwich of thin luxe dark chocolate
with lighter chocolate inside.
"I like to play with a dessert that
one almost wants to pick up with one's hands."
The Chocolate Club Sandwich 
Having a guest chef come to Istanbul for a weekend is very much like having a top musician come in and give a master class, only in this case, it is a master class in pastry. "Yann is one of the top pastry chefs in the world," said Chef William. "I worked with him in 1989 in France for a week. We have kept in touch since then. Yann and I have had conversations through the months before he came about what he would make when he was here. His style has a sense of humor - you can see it in what he calls his chocolate club sandwich."
Cırağan chefs come out of the kitchen
to commemorate the moment
The energy in the Gazebo Lounge was sky-high as Yann and Zeynep, who was assisting him, began to assemble desserts for tasting. "The entire team is really excited to have him here," said Chef William. "I told my team to rest up on their day off and don't go shopping or be on their feet. The would need all of their energy for this moment."  I realized what sound advice this was later when Chef William showed me an app on his phone that showed he had walked 17 kilometers the day before just in the course of his work at the hotel.
The Valrhona chocolate ingots
created an inspiring foundation
for creation.
These desserts
have achieved global appreciation
and not just because of the gold leaf
on top.
 
Chef Duytsche led a team of Spanish
pastry chefs to first place
 at the Club de la Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie
(World Pastry Cup Club) in Lyon, France,
the premier world event for the pastry-making elite.

Chef Yann's creations will be featured at three afternoon teas from 3-5 p.m. Friday (yesterday), Saturday and Sunday. His creations will also be the showpiece of the Sunday brunch.

"Chef Yann is interested in the newest trends. The creative brief I gave him was to push the boundaries even farther." When Chef William McCarrick explained some of what the two of them had planned for Sunday brunch it sounded delicious, and frankly, gravity-defying. Also, on Sunday they will feature a festive cake at brunch enjoyed by Lionel Massi, a sportsman well known to Europeans.
 Another pairing well-matched for Istanbul:
a crunchy chocolate base supporting eggplant.
It was delicious.
 
Surely, the addition of vegetables
means all of this pastry is good for us.
 
Chef Yann has created desserts with
asparagus, tarragon, even potatoes.
He said it is easy to bring sweet vegetables
to pastry, and each element has sense in context.
And what is Chef Yann most excited to learn during his stay in Istanbul? "He's most interested to learn about baklava, because the hotel has our very own baklava chef. We made him a savory mushroom baklava to sample," said Chef William.

Chef Yann also added that "he enjoyed eating at Tuğra, the Ottoman-inspired restaurant in the Cırağan Palace Kempinski that overlooks the Bosphorus. I want to see the markets too, to see how Oriental meets Occidental."

What he most enjoyed sharing with the staff in the Gazebo Lounge is his combinations of ingredients, the sophistication of presentation, and his specific aesthetic. "It's like creating a garden. Pastry doesn't need decoration. The decoration comes by how it is all arranged."
Many of the city's writing foodies
enthusiastically watched the preparations.
Large newspapers and
food website representatives
 were present
plus solo bloggers like me.
A Japanese inspired dessert:
Doraiaki
My selection of treats
served alongside a very elegant
presentation of
Earl Gray English tea.
One of the most fun parts about participating in this
was meeting other writers,
especially Turkish ones.
Two young culinary students
who write for http://iyiyemek.com/:
Burak Özbay on the left and Gizem Dinçbaş on the right.
Burak said this about his studies,
"You don't pick gastronomy to study.
Gastronomy picks you."
Chef McCarrick and his mentee, Ayşe
Chef McCarrick wanted to make sure I met one of his team members, Ayşe. Having cooked all over the world in Switzerland, Austria, Hong Kong, Taiwan, the Phillipines, Malasia, Bali in Indonesia, Dubai, London, and Istanbul he felt particularly strong that his legacy at Cırağan Palace Kempinski must be more than "putting cakes on the counter."

He said, "Ayşe is like a flower that just needs to be watered. She has tremendous potential as a chef. I want to help women succeed in this role because she will need thick skin to rise in this industry. Turkey doesn't have a tradition of women moving past helpers or assistants. When I was just starting out as a chef in Delaware, a chef helped me move to Switzerland to learn from another great chef. Part of bringing a guest chef to Istanbul, is to make opportunities happen for up-and-coming chefs to learn all around the world. When someone has personally met you it makes it easier for them to take a risk on you being on their staff for a few months." As I watched Ayşe's face beam under Chef McCarrick's words, I had to turn away less the catch in my throat and the tears in my eyes peaked out.
Thank you, gentlemen,
for an exquisite afternoon tea
and an inspiring day
watching your excellence in action.
I could see why the Gazebo Lounge is the "heaven of desserts" where people in Istanbul go when they feel like having a sweet. It is an avenue to all of the sweet things in life.

 
 
 
Part Two of My First Istanbul Hammam Adventure at Çirağan Palace Kempinski Hotel

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5 comments:

Karen said...

Afternoon tea is 69 TL(25.74 Euro)per person. Special groups often arrange open buffet high tea. The price for that is 78TL (29.10 Euro) per person.

Sunday Brunch is 140 TL (52.26 Euro)per person and from 12:00-16:00.

Backto Bodrum said...

I'm trying to imagine the aubergine and chocolate - did you try it?

Karen said...

Yes, I tried it. I actually liked the vegetable-infused pastries the best. It was such an interesting combination.

Thank you, Back to Bodrum, for being my most faithful commentator.

Isil the Curious Soul! said...

Wow, what a fantastic post. I loved it Karen!

I just came accross with an essay on Turkish cuisine. Thinking that you might like it, I wanted to share it with you too:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128907103

Have a nice day.
Isil

Karen said...

Isil, thank you for sharing that wonderful piece which celebrates the Turkish embrace of delicious local ingredients and the rich heritage of recipes collected from 600 years of the Ottoman empire. The author of this brings up that Topkapi Palace kitchens used to serve 15,000 people daily. I wonder why the Turkish government doesn't open up those kitchens to visitors. I'd love to see them and plenty of foodies globally would too. It would be a fun tourist draw!

 
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