Dessert Genius: MIKO ASPIRAS
When you mentioned the name of Miko Aspiras to people of the Philippines, many of them would smile remembering all their sweet favorites at the do-it-your-self ice cream bar at Magnum Manila, or the freshly baked cookies aroma at Scout’s Honor, to the delightful classic infused Japanese flavors soufflé at Le Petit Soufflé.
HE MIGHT BE just 28 years old but he has successfully mesmerized everyone with his amazing creations.
As one of the speakers at Madrid Fusion Manila congress last April, Aspiras put us in such excitement.
It is so interesting to hear about how he re-interpreted the meaning of comfort food and elevated it into a completely new level. Aspiras is an award-winning chef and has achieved the gold prize at World Association of Chef Societies in Korea by presenting his specialty of fine dining plated desserts.
We talked about his work, perfect dessert and also his upcoming own wedding cake!
FoodieS (F): You are a chef that has strong relationship with art and it shows in your creation. Tell us about the process, which comes first when you are creating a desert?
Miko Aspiras (MA): I prioritize flavors first as it has to be the foundation for me. Because you can create so many things after you create the flavor as the foundation, then everything else will just follow. The beauty of it will come after, but you need to prioritize. That is what I do from the start. Flavor first!
F: And how does the aesthetic enter this process? At what point you decide on how the final look of the dessert should be?
MA: It’s easy for me because I’ve been doing it for quite a long time already. Right after creating the flavor, I would instantly have imagined many things. My imagination can be quite random and crazy sometimes. So it is easy for me to tame it down to something that is pleasing but I can go crazy anytime.
F: Why you choose to be a pastry chef when many others especially in this congress would like to be chef de cuisine?
MA: No, I beg to differ, because there are so many things that you can do with pastry. When I was still studying, I really thought that I was going to the hot kitchen. But now, ever since I started competing in many competitions, I realized that I have a finger and tongue for sweet things. So I follow that passion and learned so many things along the way. This is the result and this is what I do now. For me, I don’t see myself doing anything else but dessert as it is the key driver of a restaurant.
F: You are talking about a new definition of comfort food; can you share us about it?
MA: New comfort food is something that you’ve never tried before but when you do, it feels that you are feeling comfort by it and brings you childhood memories. People might say it is new and different that they have never tried it before, but when they do its instantly gives them that comfort. For example we have this most popular savory dish called beef curry soufflé, where I put beef curry under beef strips and cover on top with cheese soufflé. It is weird, yet is new and once you’ve tasted it, it is so comforting.
F: On the savory dessert note, what is your positioning in this movement? Do you think the market that used to sweet desserts ready for this?
MA: We love sweet but to be able to eat a lot of it, we need something salty. It is a perfect balance. I usually lean towards that when trying to please the market palate, because people like that salty-sweet balance. So I don’t see any problem with that, as it is easy to grasp.
F: How do you insert your Filipino heritage flavor into your creation?
MA: Okay to be honest, I was trained by different chefs and inspired by many books, but none of them are Filipinos. Until this year, I am glad to say that I am finally influenced. I got invited to talk to Madrid Fusion Manila and I felt that I had to do it, as it is something that I have never explored before. Before this year, I have never really immersed myself in using Filipinos ingredients and there are so many wonderful things. I am lucky enough and grateful to the people that gave me their products from other regions of Philippines.
F: What do you think is the upcoming trend for dessert?
MA: I think the salty-sweet combination will continue on as trend as it is something classy.
F: What is your opinion on a perfect dessert?
MA: Perfect dessert…hmmm… it can be anything right? It has to give a smile to the person that’s eating it because that is the main purpose of dessert.
F: You have a series of successful restaurants. How do you keep consistency?
MA: It is not easy and it is a problem, but you have to be really strict. The way I teach my staff is to inspire them. In order to make them able to do the process within my style, I have to inspire them.
F: Congratulations for your engagement. Can you tell us about your wedding cake and how elaborate will it be?
MA: Thank you. The wedding is going to be on next year and I have few pastry friends who are dear to me and will create the cake for me. I don’t know yet and I let them to surprise me. I have specifications of course and they have to follow it, because I want my table to be filled with desserts.