9 Questions You’ve Always Wanted to Ask a Pastry Chef
Chef Shun Li from the Windsor Court Hotel in New Orleans shares the sweetest secrets behind the art of pastry-making
Chef Shun Li has been hand-crafting delicious pastries for the Windsor Court Hotel for the past nine years. We sat down with him to ask all our burning questions—like does he get to eat everything he creates? SL: You were studying financial management, and then decided to become a pastry chef. Why a chef, and why pastries? Chef Shun: While studying finance, I realized I was not cut out for office work. I remember watching the Food Network and saw Jacques Torres on the Chocolate Show segment, which inspired me to try this. SL: What was the first thing you learned about creating pastries that surprised you?Chef Shun: The amount of precision that goes into the pastry formula. SL: What would happen if a chef tried to do your job? Chef Shun: It is very evident when a Chef tries his/her hand at desserts, the composition of the plate will usually be very similar to the savory side of things. SL: Nowadays, where do you get your pastry ideas for the Windsor Court? What is your aesthetic? Chef Shun: Windsor Court blends traditional English luxuries with the French and Southern influences that are naturally found within New Orleans. Aesthetic wise, I am looking for a refined, clean layout.
SL: What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever cooked? Chef Shun: In the Philippines they often eat fermented green mango or “Burong Mangga” as they are typically referred to, so I have tried that in dessert. I like it, but no one else does. SL: What’s been your worst kitchen disaster? When I was in school for our final on cake decoration, we had to write a paragraph in German in chocolate on a 10 inch cake. I didn’t finish it in time. SL: Do you eat all your desserts? Chef Shun: Of course! I do taste most of the dishes. SL: Do you have a “signature” dish, or a favorite dish? Chef Shun: My favorite dessert is simple: warm pie with ice cream. A signature favorite at Windsor Court is the homemade pralines served during turn-down service in each suite. SL: Have there been any significant guests that you’ve served? Who’s been the most notable?Chef Shun: We have many celebrities and dignitaries stay with us all the time. Last year I witnessed Sir Paul McCartney sing happy birthday to one of his crew members, that was something very special. Late night craving? Ice creamFavorite dessert from a plastic package? Moon pieFood you can’t stand? Cheese
Favorite ingredient to work with? Any fruit in seasonHardest ingredient to work with? ChocolateMust-have piece of pastry equipment? Off-set spatula