Masaaki Konno’s True Calling

Kon’nichiwa! Greetings from Masaaki Konno, the Executive Pastry Chef of a vibrant French eatery, Garçon Bistro, who has mastered in creating sinfully-delicious desserts and alluring our taste buds!

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Kon’nichiwa! Greetings from Masaaki Konno, the Executive Pastry Chef of a vibrant French eatery, Garçon Bistro, who has mastered in creating sinfully-delicious desserts and alluring our taste buds!

WITH OVER 14 years of experience in the world of patisserie in Japan, Chef Masaaki was presented with an offer that he couldn’t refuse; to be the Executive Pastry Chef of a modish French eatery, patisserie and bar called Garçon Bistro in Jakarta, Indonesia.

“I discovered that the Indonesian and Japanese palates for desserts are very different. Here, the locals enjoy belly-filling desserts and utterly love components such as chocolates and cream cheese, whereas in Japan desserts are more light and airy,” said the Chef who expertly grasped the locals’ tongue in the four years he spent at Garçon Bistro. “Indonesians do not like anything too sweet or too sour so it is important to keep the taste well-adjusted.”

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Take for example one of his best sellers, the Rocher Monaco, which was inspired by the popular divine union of chocolate and hazelnut. The glazy chocolate moose dome is bedded over a crunchy layer of hazelnut tart and finished with brittle chocolate cookies on the sides. Trust me, every bite reveals a sublime merge of various smooth, crunchy and creamy textures.

I was fortunate enough to sample another signature choice, which left an insatiable mark on my palate. Gateau Au Fromage Blanc Passion is a rare and fancy spin on the popular cheesecake. The exquisite four layer consists of a cream cheese sphere with a transparent glaze sitting on a thin crunchy layer of almond sponge cake and cookie crumble with a generous passion fruit cream filling imbedded inside.

“At Garçon Bistro, we like creating desserts using basic baking techniques but we focus a lot in finding the right balance of flavors and textures,” added the soft-spoken chef.

Chef Masaaki Konno, who worked under culinary legend Joel Robuchon, believes profoundly in teamwork. “We work with chefs from diverse backgrounds, thus it is important to discuss and discover new concepts together. We have to be inspired and open to various suggestions, preferences and thoughts about the patisserie world, especially when it comes to understanding the local palates and trends,” shared Chef Masaaki when I asked about his creative process and secrets to being innovative.

Some of his collection of delectable and inventive French pastries that are proudly paraded at the forefront includes the popular Macaroons crafted in several unique tea flavors; an assortments of Eclaire’s including oreo, caramel, nutella and more; Nastar Cheesecake inspired by the local pineapple treat; Mille-Feuille Vanilla; Cherry Clafoutis; the list just goes on and on!

“When I was young I often helped around the kitchen. In fact, when my mother used to go to work, I would enjoy cooking my own dinner,” said the humble chef. “When I realized I was allergic to seafood, I started to focus on baking and loved it!”

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On a side note, he sensed the panic in my eyes after revealing his seafood allergies and lightly chuckled, I mean it is my ultimate food (apologies for the minor diversion).

Moving the focus back to the Chef, he shared with us his dreams to someday travel around the world and experience the culinary world in other countries. But not-so-fast, Chef Masaaki is currently still very settled and content to be in our hometown. “The people here are so cheerful, hospitable and stress-free. And the local food is to die for!” He particularly likes Nasi Goreng Kampung, Sop Buntut and Sate Kambing – notice the lack of seafood choices?

Despite being constantly surrounded by sweet temptations, his secrets to remaining lean and youthful is regularly exercising, eating clean with lots of fruits and refraining from alcohol or smoking. Meanwhile, here I am shamelessly devouring one of his signature desserts, while being serenaded by enchanting French music during the interview at Garçon Bistro.

The bistro’s patisserie counter is brimming with a whole range of cheat-day-worthy pastries. Let’s just say that ‘self-control’ is a word that will not be in your dictionary when you enter the chic black-and-white themed bistro.

Sitting with Chef Masaaki Konno and his assistant was one of my most delightful interviews. Truthfully, due to our language barrier, I initially thought we would have some challenges in communicating fluently. But, on the contrary, I was extremely impressed and thrilled to hear him directly speak in almost fluent Indonesian, sans the help of his assistant.

We at FoodieS would like to say terima kasih (thank you) to Chef Masaaki for bringing forth his expertise and exceptional creations to our hungry home.

Written by Divya Pridhnani Photographs by Rian Farisa September 17, 2016.