An energetic and passionate pastry chef, award-winning Anna Polyviou‘s had a career spanning 13 years that’s taken her around the world from Melbourne to London, Paris (working for Pierre Hermé), Chicago and now, Sydney.
After five years running the pastry and baking operations at Bathers Pavilion, Anna has recently been appointed to her new role as the Executive Pastry Chef at the Shangri-La Hotel in The Rocks.
Anna is fully committed to her craft and is very much involved in the industry: amongst other things she now runs the Sydney Pastry Club, helps judge pastry competitions and she’s always striving to learn new techniques and move forward with her team… she’s quite a rock’n roll character too!
With the support of Belgium chocolate brand Cacao Barry and sparkling water San Pellegrino, she’s organised a dessert degustation taking place every Wednesday during the month of June in the Shangri-La’s pastry kitchen.
Unlike “regular” degustations, which can be a bit ceremonious at times, Anna really wanted the event to be informal and entertaining, in a fun and relaxed atmosphere, where you can watch your desserts being prepared in front of you by herself and her team, and have a taste of the stressed and action-packed fun in the kitchen.
I was greeted in the lobby by the very professional and friendly Shangri-La staff with a glass of NV Chandon, sat in the plush sofas of the lounge amongst the other guests (about 20 of us) to sip our drink, then were led through the labyrinth of the hotel to the pastry kitchen, where Anna and her team were expecting us.
Adriano Zumbo (Cacao Barry ambassador) and his new recruit Daniel Texter (who is going to run the new Zumbo store in Melbourne) were also there to support.
Anna presented us her team and warned us of potential hiccups, as it was the first of the four degustations she organised: she needn’t worry though, everything went without any problem (or at least we didn’t notice it!)
Our first dessert was “Anna’s Liquid Mess“: vanilla bavarois creme dome sprayed with pink cocoa powder and a crunchy base, meringue kisses, fresh strawberries, baby basil, strawberry sorbet and pop rocks (the latter inspired by Adriano Zumbo: this dessert was actually his favourite dessert of the night).
It was a very fresh and fun dessert, especially when the chefs walked along the tables pouring a warm strawberry coulis on the dessert, melting away the white chocolate sphere and creating a delicious mess.
The second dessert, “Lemon Twist“, was a lemon soufflé, topped with a lemon curd sauce and served with in a little test tube containing lime sherbet that fuzzes in the mouthand lemon sorbet on a spoon. Being a bit partial to lemon and soufflés, this was one of my favourite of the nights. Hot and cold, creamy and acid, soft and crunchy, playful with the lime fizzy test tube, it hit all the right notes!
“Re-freshen Apples” was the palate cleanser and, as its name promised, was very refreshing and drew a lot of approving noises from the guests!
Anna said she was inspired by her friend John Ralley, pastry chef at Wildfire, who recently created a dessert containing apple & fennel sorbet. She liked it so much she included it in her own dessert.
The glass was filled from the bottom up with caramelized white chocolate creme, apple jelly, cinnamon crumble, sweet’n sour apples, apple & fennel sorbet, lemon barm herb. The glass was adorned with a crispy almond tuile.
The following dessert, “Caramelize me“, had a special significance for Anna, as she created it for her partner, incorporating all her favourite flavours: caramel popcorn ice-cream, passionfruit sorbet, a white chocolate sponge made in the microwave, white chocolate powder, candied popcorn, banana puree. The chocolate gateau was composed of grue cacao crunch, milk chocolate mousse and a passionfruit insert. It proved very popular amongst the guests too!
Anna presented the last dessert as her personal favourite. “Lick” is a yoghurt parfait ice-cream on a stick with a caramel crackling insert, with mango jelly on top and mango popping pearls made by a friend of hers, honeycomb, chocolate brownie crumbs and baby herbs. A great way to end the degustation.
We then were invited to help ourselves at the “Take me home” stand, where Oreo and Honeycomb adorned chocolate lollipops, as well as recreated Snickers bars and Red Skin macarons were expecting us. We each took a little bag and started doing our little shopping 🙂
Those dark chocolate lollipops were the best, with bits of Oreo biscuits, honeycomb and crunchy pearls or freeze-dried strawberries.
Thank you Anna for inviting me, it was a great degustation!
The Dessert Degustations has taken place every Wednesday in June, but unfortunately all the sessions are already booked out.
(Seats limited to 20 people, $105)
For more info on potential future degustations, contact (02) 9250 6247 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The French Wench attended Anna’s Dessert Degustation as a guest.
Shangri-La Hotel Sydney
179 Cumberland Street, The Rocks,
Sydney, NSW, Australia