Since opening its doors in April 2012, Midtown’s Hakkasan (311 W. 43rd St., 212-776-1818) has been known for creating premiere Chinese cuisine. One of the unsung heroes of the restaurant is executive pastry chef Rory Macdonald. His array of mouthwatering sweets, from coconut pudding to apple mille feuille, proves that the sweets offered at Hakkasan are much more than an afterthought. We chatted with Macdonald about all things dessert, Hakkasan and more.
When did you discover your love of baking?
It started when I was kid. My parents used to cook a lot so I was always in the kitchen. I’ve always liked cooking generally, but pastries just stood out for me.
What’s your favorite thing from the Hakkasan menu?
We’re just about to change the menu to the summer one and my favorite thing is the strawberries and champagne.
What makes your pastries so special?
We try to make them as interesting as possible without being too crazy. We want to make it blend well with Hakkasan’s food so we try to make it light and clean. Also, we just try to make it look as good as possible because presentation is very important to us. Flavor always comes first, but presentation is important as well.
How does Hakkasan’s Chinese flavor influence your decisions for the dessert menu?
We never try to do fusion foods, but as far as dessert we just try to complement the foods. A lot of Hakkasan’s foods are very spicy and a lot of times people are pretty full, so again we try to make sure the dessert is very light, clean and fresh. We try to keep it so that when you leave you aren’t too full.
Any advice for aspiring chefs?
Always try to improve and never stop learning. The beauty of being a chef is that you can do it for 50 years and still go in and learn something everyday.