LAHORE: A creative force in the kitchen, Duminda Thabre leads the pastry team with a wealth of experience.

Before his move to Pakistan, Thabrew served as executive pastry chef for Baba al shams Dubai, overseeing a team that produced more than 500 desserts daily. From 2008 to 2013, Thabrew contributed to many of the company’s high-profile culinary teams - in Sheraton, intercontinental, Sharjah Grand in Gulf city - working his way up through the kitchen ranks.

The pastry maker and jet-setting confectioner was well positioned for success but it was decades of determination and perfectionism that led him to score the title of 'Pakistan's Best Pastry Chef' at International Culinary Festival 2018. In conversation with The Nation he talks about his career and success. Following are the excerpts:

What inspired you to become a pastry chef?

My mother made a wonderful apple cake. I became hopelessly enamoured with the cake and started following the formula of making that cake at the age of 11 years. 

What’s the first thing you learned to cook? Did you grow up baking with your parents?

I really went on my own to do it. My parents were occupied—dependably at work—so when we had time off from school, I would dependably go in the kitchen and attempt to test, which most of time, wind up in a debacles since I didn't have the correct fixings or I didn't recognise what I was doing.

I was somewhat excessively aggressive, I never went for the straightforward formula; I went for the most confused one, which extremely required specialised ingredients or equipment.

Do you think that cupcakes will fall out of fashion?

I don’t think so. Probably it will be a bit of a come down, like anything else, but they are such a convenient and fun product. You can decorate to please anybody, and that’s what people really like about it. It can be for kids, boys and girls, decorated with their favorite shoes or handbags. They are easy to make, and they are not that expensive, and if you buy a box of cupcakes, they look pretty fabulous. I’m sure there won’t be as many cupcake shops as we are seeing at the moment, but at Pearl Continental Lahore they’re still as popular, we’re still selling the same numbers.

What do you like about being a pastry chef? What do you dislike?

I really enjoyed (and I still do) being able to come up with a dessert idea, make it, and have people like it.  There’s almost nothing better than when someone compliments you on a great dessert that was all your idea! The thing I disliked the most is standing up in a very hot kitchen all day long. At the end of the day, my feet are tired and sore and all I want to do is to lie on the couch and watch TV for an hour or two!

If you have to make your wife…. A special treat what would it be?

She loves chocolate, and she loves vanilla flavour, so maybe a heart of chocolate with some vanilla cream brûlée in the middle with some fresh raspberries on the top with a little fresh raspberry sauce.

Can you give four tips to the readers, who want to make desserts at home?

First always start with something basic, to gain confidence. Second you can amaze people with simple things like dipping a strawberry in chocolate. Third always use the freshest ingredients and remember that an apple pie can be wonderful. Fourth don’t have more than four flavors on a plate.

What is your favorite food?

Kottu, a pure Srilankan dish.