Because of what I do, chefs usually go out of their kitchen to meet with me and talk briefly about their food, but rarely do they stay and chat—they’re busy people after all. One of the few exceptions was the Executive Pastry Chef of the Hilton Kuala Lumpur, Chef Paul Gardin. Despite his hectic schedule, he sat down with me for afternoon tea at The Lounge. Read more…
Chef Paul Gardin’s work at the Hilton Kuala Lumpur as its executive chef is monumental. The five-star hotel has 503 rooms, 10 food and beverage outlets, two ballrooms, and 12 meeting rooms, and he oversees the dessert menus of all outlets and banquets in the hotel and supervises 30 pastry chefs and eight bakers. Amazingly, he was given this pivotal role at the young age of 25; he just turned 27 recently.
But his being young by no means equate to inexperience. Chef Paul started his career when he was 13, apprenticing at Le Braisiere (1* Michelin) in Paris under Chef Jacques Faussat. Two years after, he commenced his journey as a pastry chef when he worked at the Palace Le Meurice (3* Michelin) also in Paris under Chef Yannick Alleno and at the Hotel Les Hetres (1* Michelin) in Normandy. His craft has then brought him to the shores of Australia, the Carribean, and the Middle East—specifically, to Bahrain and Lebanon, where he was able to work with Filipinos.
During his stint there, he was endeared by our overseas workers, whom he describes as hardworking and caring to those who aren’t even related to them by blood. He recounted how his Filipino colleagues treated him like family, so when the opportunity arose, he decided to work in the Philippines at the Diamond Hotel Manila, serving as its executive pastry chef. He was responsible for not only the hotel’s functions, events, and outlets but also for the hotel’s Cake Club.
Fast forward two years later, he’s now with the Hilton Kuala Lumpur, where he is a well-celebrated asset. His expertise, especially on chocolate craftsmanship, is noted well by international and Malaysian media, bloggers, and guests themselves, and he is credited to have started the seasonal afternoon tea sets—including the High Fashion Afternoon Tea, complete with frosted cookie purses and chocolate lipstick that look too good to eat. Many of his creative work are showcased on his Instagram account.
That afternoon, he personally prepared for me The Lounge’s Festive Afternoon Tea, which comes in time for the holiday season. It’s fairly priced at only 80 MYR (~880 PHP) per person, and it comes with a pot of fine tea from their carefully-selected assortment.
The three-tiered tower featured a smorgasbord of treats from classic English scones with clotted cream and jam, and a selection of savory sandwiches to this season’s highlights: minced pie, raspberry panna cotta, almond stollen, crunchy chocolate éclair, and cute gingerbread men. All were matched with the festive theme and, according to Chef Paul, handmade with love.
As I sank my teeth into some of the best éclairs I’ve ever had the pleasure of having, Chef Paul and I continued about our chat about everything Filipino—our food, our culture, our parties, our beautiful places, and our happy people. As he reminisced, it was apparent that he sorely missed our country—especially our San Miguel Beer and crispy pata (pork knuckles).
It came then as no wonder why he was eager to meet and chat—he wanted to be reminded of his days in the Philippines. And like he told me repeatedly, he couldn’t wait to be back.
Note: The Festive Afternoon Tea is available from 1:30 PM to 5:30 PM until December 31, 2015.