Five Minutes With... Abel Vielleville
The executive pastry chef at Address Boulevard talks about ingredients, trends and his most impressive creation
What drew you to this role?
I grew up in a hospitality environment, serving customers while I was young as my parents ran a restaurant business in the South of France. A passion for food played a big role in deciding my future career. Later I worked under several popular Michelin star chefs in France and London where I improved my skills and acquired knowledge about industry trends.
Is it easy to source the ingredients that you need?
The hospitality industry is becoming more diverse with a wide range of products to be found and sourced. From high quality flour and excellent dairy products to healthy seeds and grains, gluten- and sugar-free foods, there is an extensive choice available, which results in healthy competition among suppliers. Literally everything can be found in the UAE.
Are there any trends in pastry that you’re seeing emerge?
Yes, we are seeing more elaborate variations — products with citrus and exotic flavours, seeds and nuts, peppers, spices such as thyme or basil, smoked or pink salt and charcoal.
In recent years, pastry chefs have become more health-conscious using organic and artisan products. Desserts tend to be less artificial; they are lighter and more nutritious. The use of vegetables, grains and cereals is now on the increase; I have seen new dessert and chocolate launches containing purple sweet potato, beetroot, pumpkin, edamame, quinoa, granola, rye, muesli and popcorn.
Also, gaining the customer’s attention is still a top priority in this age of Instagram. This is why the trend today is back to colourful mirror glazes as the final finish for cakes, éclairs, and individual petits gateaux. Another catchy element are interesting shapes. Pastry chefs around the world are now using new moulds imitating fruits and vegetables such as lime, tangerines, piquillo pepper, asparagus, tomato and olives.
Do you take local tastes into account when you are creating new dishes?
When it comes to local tastes, I always try to incorporate them in some of my desserts. While working in Beijing, I used ingredients such as water chestnuts, Sichuan peppers, pomelo, black bean paste or rice, whereas in the Middle East I tend to use dates, saffron, rose water, halwa, orange blossom, etc, to enhance the local flavours.
What is your most impressive creation?
Every year I try to come up with something different. I conceptualise ideas based on the theme of the restaurant or hotel, the cuisine and current trend in the markets. In essence, my inspiration is driven by bringing a breath of modernity to desserts and giving them a new dimension. One of my current desserts resembles pebbles presented on the bed of candied nuts, chocolate and speculoos soil. I use double fermented chocolate to boost the flavour.
I am also working on a new brunch menu inspired from French Riviera which will be launched this autumn. Desserts will have Mediterranean flavours such as lavender, lime, olives, nougat and rosemary.