Pastry chef Antonio Bachour, named the World’s Best Pastry Chef in 2018 and 2022 by The Best Chef Awards, has landed on Thai shores and the Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok will host his first pop-up in Asia.
Bachour brings an avant-garde approach to pastry, showcased during a one-of-a-kind afternoon tea and cake shop takeover at Cafe Madeleine, until Feb 18. The limited-time special will also serve the essence of St Valentine’s Day during Valentine week in special petite gateaux. On the day of love, cakes will be in a special box created for the day.
The afternoon tea will feature chef Bachour’s signature pastries alongside savoury bites by Patiwarata Chutiwat, chef de cuisine at The Lounge. The sweet side showcases chef Bachour’s signatures and finest desserts found at his restaurants in Miami, Philadelphia and Washington DC, and also in Mexico. Though not a stranger to Asia, this is first pop-up on the continent.
Having moved to Miami in 2001 and having opened his first restaurant there, chef Bachour’s ode to the Sunshine State is in his signature dessert — “Sunshine”. “I wanted to bring my special desserts to the Four Seasons. ‘Sunshine’ is my best-seller in Miami. As soon as the sun comes out in Miami, it is bright; there are no clouds in the sky between November and May in Miami. I live next to the beach and I see the sun as soon as I wake up,” says the chef. Sunshine is banana cake with passion fruit cream and vanilla mousse, a slight adaptation from the original.
Keeping in theme with Chinese New Year, the next bite is an Orange petit gateaux. The orange is also a symbol of Florida, which grows various varieties of oranges. The gateaux has a mix of orange and Mandarin with orange cake, Mandarin cremeux, Mandarin jelly and orange scent mousse. “It is very light and beautiful and once cut in half, the different layers are showcased,” says the chef.
Chef Bachour comes from a Lebanese family but was born and brought up in Puerto Rico. The next cake is a look into his childhood and is his version of his mother’s berry cheesecake. “My mother used to watch a lot of food channels and though she never spoke Spanish or English, she adapted a shortcake recipe she saw on TV. Since we are seven brothers, there would always be dessert at every meal. The berry shortcake was one of my mother’s specials.
“My interpretation of it has almond cake, strawberry compote and a diplomat cream. The cake is a three-layered and garnished with raspberries and vanilla ganache,” explains the chef.
His iconic Rocher with gianduja hazelnuts chocolate is up next and is by far the most decadent of the desserts on offer. “I have been doing this dessert for 25 years now. I call it it the ‘Bachour Rocher’ because next to my house in Puerto Rico there is a pharmacy where we used to buy a candy Rocher that came with a gold leaf. I loved this. This is my version of my favourite childhood candy. My favourite combination is hazelnut and chocolate,” explains the chef.
Begin the tea with an amuse bouche of Kaffir lime poached in syrup, pomelo, lime and forest honey granita. A perfect palate opener, the tartness showcases a new dimension of kaffir lime, without the bitterness. The honey comes from bees in Samut Songkhram who feast on coconut flowers, which gives the honey a bit of a salty aftertaste. Move along to the Squid tagliatelle with a yuzu kosho vinegarette and hijiki seaweed.
The tea comes with savoury delicacies like Balik of salmon, Parisian chaud froid and Oscietra caviar; Jasmin rice cracker, coconut galangal cream and seabite; Smoked duck, cranberry chutney and fig leaf powder; and Foie aras terrine, dried apricot and calamansi.
“Antonio Bachour Sweet Surprises” are a mango brioche, chocolate brioche and a pecan-chocolate cookie, before ending the afternoon tea with the Four Seasons’ signature soft serve of White chocolate and berries with dark chocolate pearls.
At the hotel’s patisserie, chef Bachour will offer his signature viennoiserie baked goods and mono-portion cakes. The pop-up menu at Cafe Madeleine boasts an array of delectable treats, including the mouthwatering strawberry mascarpone croissant; yuzu coconut cake; hazelnut pain aux raisins; and a variety of mono-portion cakes such as Camembert cheesecake, which comes in a special box and has a raspberry centre, pistachio cake and the irresistible Rocher. Visit the hotel's website.