Feb. 19, 2022

Part II Pushing the Pastry Envelope with Aussie Chef Gunawan


In part 2 of our conversation with Australian Chef, Instructor, and Pastry Artist Gunawan, we hear about his unique flavor creations and award-winning competition performance that opened up exciting career opportunities. While he enjoyed his role as a savory chef, he found his true passion in the pastry kitchen bringing creative desserts to life with unique flavor combinations.  That experience led him to more competitions, international competition judging, sharing his knowledge as an instructor and master class ambassador.  You’ll also hear about his favorite and unique flavors and creations that are pushing the pastry envelope today.    

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Transcript

Michael Dugan:

Let's move forward a little bit further to 2016 because I'm so curious about this Savoir Hall of Fame Award.

Gunawan:

So it's a Patissier of the year 2016 In Sydney, so I'm competing against 30 Patissier from around the world. But during that time because it's the first one and very new, so mostly the company competitor are from Australia, Sydney, Melbourne from all these big establishment in Sydney and Melbourne, and I'm the only one from South Australia, which is Adelaide. I'm competing in competition with all the Patissier to fight for Patissier of the year 2016. I made a Terrarium Tart so my idea was a garden inside glass dome.Which is called Terrarium Tart, but it's all a edible because the glass dome is actually made of sugar. But the dome itself is made of sugar. Correct? Oh my gosh, wow. And you need crack through it to to eat the whole thing. So it's an experience when you see it's like wow, but then when I need to smash through it to eat, that's giving you another experience. And then I made polenta eclair basically inside the eclair. I put polenta as well. So it gives some grainy bits when you bite through. I improvise my tomyum macaroons into the next level. So I made tomyum macaroons again. But this time I actually made tomyum ganache with lime jelly and also popping candy. What is popping candy? Popping candy is when it's touch, moisture. Basically when you put in your mouth and it just pop in your mouth. I'm not sure how to call it in America but in Australia we call it popping candy. Interestingly poprocks but it's from a long time. Yes, I guess thats poprocks when the judge is eating it, right? I mean Thailand, and then suddenly the popping candy start popping. It felt like you're somewhere else. I don't know where am I in it so it came back to Thailand again. So it just keeping different experience or what I get is people Choice Award for the Terrarium Tart. So that tarts category. So when the best tarts category for people Choice Award and you competed with all these chefs all 30. You know I don't even look at my competitors. How I stay positive is because I just want to do it. I want to prove I want to show the world what I can do and what I'm doing because everyone else doing you know something like caramel macaroon or something like that, but I want to show the world this is who I am. That's really tremendous. And congratulations Did anything happen after that? I get a lot of different job offer, okay, from Sydney, from Melbourne, but you know, I still want to stay in Adelaide. So I stay in it like work through I got an offer in fine dining restaurant. As a Chef de Partie after I get the whole pastry section. I need to change the whole menu in two weeks. Basically, I just get into the job and I have to change the whole dessert menu in two weeks. What was the name of the restaurtant. Hill of Grace, I made it we change it once of the customer loved it every board director love to set a proposal and they say can you do it next year? Next week. So the first week when I came in straightaway change on the menu and then on the Friday before the week and board director came in try to dessert and they say I want this on the menu next week. I was like, No, I can't because when I do trial I only do you know like maybe 10 I'm not sure if you like it, right. So I just doing the small amounts or batches and they're like can we put this on the next opening day next week on Tuesday? I was like, No, I need one more week. Feel like well, I'm happy that they actually approve and they want it straight away. I'm flattered but I don't have the time to do it is you have to be creative very quickly. Yes. So then change our work. In different hotel and then keep moving on the first thing so I've learned cooking and I've learned pastry. Most people only know one of the disciplines either pastry or cooking. Not both. I'm not being biased, but I felt like by having the basic in pastry. It helps because pastry is very straight As in like two grams has to be two grams. Your pipe gram has to be five grams we're cooking. If you do not have enough salt, you can always add the salt of the cook them enough you can still cook it longer. You know I mean hey, if you forgot your sugar, you can add more sugar off. If you pull it out too early. You can just put it back after they get cold. It's just doesn't work that way where so it's if you said 30 minutes, you could go for 30 minutes but with cooking I mean with pastries different so when I go into savory stuff, he says I think fast track you learn quicker because you had that discipline in pastry. I'm just thinking is I guess everyone it's different. That makes sense and the precision I think correct more precision in baking but still if you have the precision you can apply it into cooking Correct? Tremendous. Yeah. Why I'm talking about salary, even though you know, I just love doing Patreon. This is what I want to share with audience. It's when I was a sous chef pastry in a hotel. I was being controlled a lot by the expenditure you know being seen from hotel they like to chase or buy products from outside because it's a smaller area working area or we don't have enough staff or for some reason they should cheaper to buy products from outside just doesn't helps my pension. I love to create new things. The chef always deny my proposal. I say instead of putting the tiramisu in the glass, I can show you three different ways of doing the tiramisu. You know you can do plate it tiramisu, it can do a set tiramisu. Or you can do different things, right? But she shied away, say nine. And that's when I realized that I don't want to waste my time I want to keep creating by resigning, and I'm thinking how am I going to have a power to do my own dessert? I landed a job in second and sixth as a head chef to in savory. Okay, I sell the savory I do I cook the steak. I do. You know, carpaccio and past I do a lot of different things. And then I train my stuff. I trained myself and then they're able to run the savory section. And then I move on to pastry way. I changed my dessert every week. Normally, every single week, I change dessert. This way, you can see how I accumulate many contents on my Instagram, different dessert. It's because I challenged myself I changed the dessert every week. That was the highlight of my career when I was in second and sixth. I served the desert myself to the customer, giving them experience. So it's great because it goes back to your past when you blame to us how passionate you were about being Yes. And also think about this the customer felt special. It felt like a VIP because the share personally come to them what happened the next week I see the same face bringing different friends because they want to impress their friends. You know what, the next week I see their friends bringing more friends coming in. And it's like a snowball from one person become four person four person becomes 16 become more they always do it on Instagram from the Instagram? Okay. Wow. But again, with Instagram, sometimes they want the same thing, right? Hey, I saw this last week. I was like Sorry, we have new menu now.

Michael Dugan:

What did you do after a second and six?

Gunawan:

Well after the second and six pandemic. It changed a lot while I was in sixth still in second and sixth. I actually already go around different country to do master classes. And I'm a brand ambassador for Nestle professional as well. Chocolate Ambassador when I'm not working. I will do stuff for Nestle like doing master classes or doing recipes for them. And then sometimes I was invited for a festival in Jakarta. So I came to judge the competition or doing cooking classes. So I really loved the time before pandemic because I get paid for traveling. I was involved in Australian Culinary Federation as well and I'm a acreditied chef judge so I can judge cooking competition in Adelaide, South Australia.

Michael Dugan:

What do you like so much about being a judge?

Gunawan:

I guess you are inspired by all the company's competitors. Products. You learn different things. And that's what I love about judging, you know, getting to see them not about judging how bad it is or whatever, but it's about gaining more knowledge they gain more skills. You see, oh, this is different skills because I'm not a god. I'm not really really amazing chef. I accumulate my experience by learning from different people as well. Because I don't live 100 years to gain all this experience right I need to see different techniques, different flavor combination from different people.

Michael Dugan:

Which to enjoy more competing or judging.

Gunawan:

I guess competing. Because judging you sort of like being judged by the judges for because we don't share the marks and things but you actually have different marks. Everyone will ask you if you offer 10% or below 10% from everyone else, then people will question you why and you still don't like oh it's because this is what I see this person doing cross contamination is where the mark is way different. They agree they will follow my marks as well. But sometimes there is a pressure in it. I see because palate everyone has different paletes as well. How do you judge?

Michael Dugan:

That's got to be challenging your tastes are very different, like something more sweet or more savory. And so when you're judging. I can see that I can definitely see that to check on technique to I'm sure What are you doing now? What's going on with you now?

Gunawan:

At the moment I'm a consultant. So I create menu for restaurant trainer, staff and then a leave and also at the moment I'm traveling Indonesia. So in Indonesia, most probably going to do classes all around but at the moment, you know I'm just taking a little break.

Michael Dugan:

You know, we're in 2016, 2018, 2020 pandemic hit and change things but right now I think you're teaching right?

Gunawan:

Yes, correct. Correct. We did 2020 I was running it Italian Restaurant, as the head chef. Pandemic up and down, up and down, you know, in the middle of time, there is seven cases and my state just locked down for seven days. And then we go back to zero again. So it's sort of like very tiring in the hospitality industry. Because sometimes they just allow 10 customers in the restaurant, how are you going to make money? You know, I mean, but again, I understand is the protocol the after everything going well, I'm thinking like I want to get out from the hospitality industry. Because I want to share I want to share my skills my knowledge what I know. I found there is a school looking for chef who teach during the time I found cooking school because they they asked him for help because a chef sick need to go to surgery or something. It's a school holiday. It's fully booked class and they just asked him for chef to help like, Hey, I'm offering myself because I've been doing teaching, professionally teaching, you know, college, and also teaching chefs on dessert. And I think you know, it will be the same but honestly I never teach kids before. It's what I say. We had some interview. She was like, alright, let's try. So I get in. And I do like while this is different teaching kids six years and above a different experience. I would say.

Michael Dugan:

What do you like about teaching kids?

Gunawan:

What I like about kids firstly it very cute right?

Michael Dugan:

I can hear it in your voice.

Gunawan:

When they cook I guess when they finished a product. They really really satisfied or they're very proud about what they do. They always bring to their parents like Mom, look what I do. And when they eat it was like oh my god, this is the most delicious things I ever made. And that's that's the motivation that I get like, wow, either. I'm a great teacher, or they're just a great students. But I really loved such young age. They learn how to cook. This is what we need, you know, because I never been in kitchen before we then put college living on my own. I don't even know how to turn on stove. These kids know how to cook now, which is great. I don't want people to have my experience. I want them to have basic skills in life. When I see them happy, it is a new satisfaction for me because kids are very pure. If they don't like it, they don't like it. You know that you're doing a bad job.

Michael Dugan:

Also, I think you probably really have a lot of fun and I think that they they probably do things that that you wouldn't expect. I think that can be a different kind of challenge. But I think that also has some really special gifts. So we're going to move on to the final part, and I call it let's get cooking and it's not a test. I promise. Are thier any Chefs now that you follow?

Gunawan:

With social media things it just helps to get inspired easier. You know like before you you're traveling you try the restaurant yourself. Now with Instagram or Pinterest you get to see people's work from pictures from video. It helps them as a culinary students. I always been a big fan of Gordon Ramsay. I'm not saying that I a big fan because he swear a lot. But when he hosts a TV show, he has a charisma, the way he talks. It brings your attention and that's what I need being a teacher or being mentor. I need people to having his charisma. He can share your knowledge and skills very easily because people pay attention on and this what I love about him, and that's what I'm trying to learn having that charisma as well.

Michael Dugan:

Any other chefs you can think of?

Gunawan:

I'll say Simon Bryant in Australia. He is very humble. He always giving knowledge not just me, but every student or every young chef in the industry. He will tell you about a lot of different things in cooking. And that's what inspired me a lot. You know, I want to be that kind of person for the young generation or those people who learn to be chefs. I want to give that to them too. It's why I really enjoyed teaching.

Michael Dugan:

That's great. Now, you've traveled a little bit. You've been in Indonesia, Australia, probably a few other places in the world. Is there any special place in the world that you would go back to?

Gunawan:

Well, I'll say France. I went to France In France. I just went to Paris Toulouse but I want to explore a different area. I came as a culinary student. I want to come back as a chef I see things differently. As a culinary students. When you eat something, you see different things. When you being a chef, you are actually looking at different things as well. I want to compare that I want to go back and experience different things. Even though you go to the same restaurant. I want to experience different things.

Michael Dugan:

What restaurant would you go to?

Gunawan:

I want to go to the patisserie being a pastry chef. I want to go to pay him lottery or this patisserie in French

Michael Dugan:

So you know where you want to go? Yes. That's really great.

Gunawan:

I just say because I need to learn or I need to experience this firsthand, not just looking or not just heard about them. I want to go there and experience I mean, like macaroons. I love making macaroons, but I want to see French, French Macaroons and the real French Macaroons.

Michael Dugan:

What would you say are your signature dishes? Theycan be sweet or savory.

Gunawan:

I always change so it's really hard for me to say. But to me, I would say my forbidden tree if you see it's one of the actually featured in the Le Cordon Bleu cookbook as well. It's a pot and then there is a tree in a fairy floss on top cotton candy. Have you seen that? Oh my Instagram?

Michael Dugan:

I'm looking at your Instagram right now but I think I have seen it.

Gunawan:

Pink color. Cotton candy. Many people know me for me migori macaroon. Yes. So it's instant noodle macaroon Okay, a ramen. So the shell is actually made out of the noodle itself. And the feeling is actually all the flavoring from the noodle so when you bite through you feel like eat noodles but its macaroon.

Michael Dugan:

Yeah. Wow. Okay, so that's another one any others?

Gunawan:

I think that highlights something different that I made with the soy sauce ice cream, two minutes noodle inspired dessert. So I make sirachacustard as the base. So it's sweet, but spicy sriracha custard. Yes. Custard. Wow. Okay. And then some cookies, and then a lime noodle. So it's a starch noodle, and I put lime in it and a bit sugar and then they put soy sauce like ice cream and a mo meranguewith instant noodle crunch on it.

Michael Dugan:

Oh my gosh.

Unknown:

So when you eat true, there is a big balance in there like you know there is hotness from the lime and then there is a little bit spicy from the custard and then you know there is a little bit of salty from the soy sauce ice cream. Do you believe so? It soy sauce ice cream tastes like salted caramel. No, try it. Try a little bit of soy sauce in the cream. It gives you the umami flavor.

Michael Dugan:

Oh my gosh.

Unknown:

Don't put too much just I use like soy. But you can just put a drop teaspoon of cream and try it.

Michael Dugan:

Okay. All right.

Gunawan:

I'll do that. Yeah, just something different. You know, bring your mind outside the box. You can play with foods with all the flavors.

Michael Dugan:

So one of my favorite questions to ask our chefs is... Can you share any kitchen disaster that you've come across? In your career? Well, I was Chef de Partie in their fine dining restaurant before it's not me but I found one of my Comi putting a block of ice I mean, a bucket of ice. Just right beside deep fryer. That was a big hazard. Lucky that I saw that and actually reported her to my head chef. I mean, look, I'm not being nasty, but I don't want you to take this lightly. You know, this is a very serious I need you to know and report it to head chef as well and she got a warning but she didn't think she'd take it personally. So she sort of like being upset with me. But again, look, I'm telling her face to face as well. Before I report it. I'd say look as your senior. I have to tell you this is really serious case. I had to report you for this. I actually tell her that I am going to report her.

Unknown:

Another kitchen disaster. I think this is funny things about teaching in class. To me to be teaching, it's about performance, right? It's not just teaching streak. You have to do this but I love to put jokes. I love to give experience. If they actually entertain they learn better. That's what I believe. So in Australia, I get to meet a lot of different people like Italians, Spanish, French so I learned the language as well. So one day I call the kids on the modern Italian cooking before I do the briefing, I was like on Bonjourno everybody, speaking Italian here. And then everyone was like, No, it was like Ciao, mi chiamo. So no it Italia no and blah, blah blah, you know.

Gunawan:

They thought I was Italian. Sir, if you see me straightaway, my face is Asian like he has an Asian face. And then if I do that in middle of class, they just like Oh yeah, right. I was like oh I know you guys have been wondering about my face. This is more than Italian face. It is love right? But we kids they know they know better. Right? They just believe in it. When I was teaching the class because why I tried to use the language because it just to give you an experience. We are in Italian we we learn Italian cooking, even though I'm not Italian. But I've been mentored by Italian chef and I'm very confident in what I'm doing. So I want you to have the experience in Italian as well by trying to speak like Italian. This is what funny kids actually asked me when I was halfway teaching and I was like chef, are you born and raised in Italy and are just speechless. I was just laughing and I went to the office and tell my colleagues. You know what the kids just asked me. Are you born and raised in Italy see how pure kids are?

Michael Dugan:

I know it's incredible. As we move on. Is there any dish that you would take to a desert island? Like what's your favorite dish? You couldn't live without it?

Gunawan:

I will say Indonesian masse padow. So it's rice for one of the area. It's has gravy has bomb a flavor bomb. And that's what I've been missing when I was in Australia. I always think about their food if I come to be Indonesia. I want that.

Michael Dugan:

Does it have seafood or anything like that?

Gunawan:

They have a lot of different seafood they have meat or whatever. So it's like the rice and then you have choices of protein.

Michael Dugan:

Oh okay, got it. And then of course is the key. Correct? So as we say goodbye. Do you have any special message for people around the world about cooking becoming a chef or anything that you want to share?

Gunawan:

I will say about following a patient. So I used to teach college right there is a 55 years old asking me. Am I too late for being a chef? I say nothing too late, right? There is no words of being too late. But the only words is that. Do you want to waste five more years doing what you don't like? So I always tell them, Follow Follow. Follow your dreams. Do what you enjoy. I'm very lucky. I get paid to do something that I love. You know, to be honest, if I do it for free, I'm happy. I want to do it. Look, I get paid for doing it.

Michael Dugan:

And it's really good advice. Most importantly as as we wrap up, how do people find you? I know they can find on Instagram. If a website you want to just share a little bit about how they could connect with you.

Unknown:

They can connect with me on Instagram, or my YouTube or even my LinkedIn as well.

Michael Dugan:

And I'll have some of that information in our show notes also have Gunawan as a guest on our website where you can link to his social media as well. Gunawan, thank you so much for coming on the show. I know that you're really busy and I just really appreciate connecting with you and having this conversation today.

Gunawan:

I'm the one who should thank you, Michael. I really love this because I wish that I could inspire more people. Because you know my goal. My ultimate goal is to be inspired by people who are inspired.

Michael Dugan:

That's a really great goal.

Gunawan Profile Photo

Gunawan

Gunawan is award winning chef, he crowned as Lakanto Most Outstanding Pastry Chef 2020 and also Savour Patissier of the year 2016 PC award best tart winner. He is always passionate about arts. He found out he can express his art onto plate in culinary world. Thus he pursue his career being a chef. After more than 10 years he has been in Industry, he want to give back to community by sharing his knowledge and skills by doing cooking classes in Australia and Internationally. One of his goal is to get inspired by people who he inspired.