You may remember a couple of weeks ago I was invited to The Langham to enjoy their chocolate indulgence high tea. Today’s your opportunity to find out more about the man behind the magic, Head Pastry Chef at The Langham, Markus Bohm. Thanks Markus!
Markus, tell me a bit more about your background and how you came to be the Head Pastry Chef at The Langham?
I was trained in Germany and worked as an apprentice in a pastry shop. From there, I went into hotels, leaving when I was 20 for Bermuda where I took up my first pastry chef position at the Castle Harbour Hotel (today this is the Marriott). I then spent ten years working as the Pastry Chef at the Plaza Hotel in New York, before moving to the Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles – the best hotel in the world at that time.
I came to Australia eighteen years ago to open what was then the Sheraton Towers (now The Langham, Melbourne). I worked as a pastry chef there for three years, before leaving to open up the Le Cordon Bleu school in Melbourne.
Then, seven years ago, the Head Chef at The Langham called me and asked me to return to the hotel. I’ve been working here as the Head Pastry Chef ever since.
What do you consider to be your food philosophy?
My food philosophy would be using the freshest and best ingredients I can find. The ingredients in my desserts have to be good, and I particularly like dark, bittersweet chocolate.
What qualities do you believe a pastry chef has that are different to a regular chef?
I think that as a pastry chef, you have to be more creative and exact (for example at weighing out the ingredients) then a regular chef. You also have to be artistic and have an eye for beauty, and be able to draw. There is much more preparation involved when you are a pastry chef, and you need a lot of patience and even an understanding of chemistry.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in your years as a chef? What advice would you give to someone who wants a career in the kitchen?
Aspiring pastry chefs would know that there are long hours involved and that they need to be committed. The starting pay isn’t very high either. But if they work hard and are committed, they can move forward in the kitchen and earn a higher pay. It is quite similar to ballet. The principal dancers get paid a lot while the rest of the corp don’t earn as much.
How would you describe the approach you’ve taken with the pastries and desserts at The Langham? What can customers expect to taste and see there?
The main approach for me is consistency. I’ve kept the popular favourites that guests are familiar with such as a crème brulee and crème caramel. But I’ve also introduced some unusual combinations such as chilli and chocolate and salt and chocolate, and I like to use avocado and goats cheese in my pastries and desserts. I think it is great for people who are adventurous with what they eat. They will be happy with the taste sensations!
Finally, you’re from Germany but now live in Melbourne. What HOT places and things do you love about your adopted home town?
One of my favourite places to visit in my downtime is Maris (15 Glenferrie Rd, Malvern +61 3 9500 0665). I love going there for lunch. They do funky light food with Mediterranean, Morrocan and other influences, and they have a small wine list but it’s packed with excellent wines. They also make their bread fresh, and everything is prepared on site.
Another favourite of mine is David’s (4 Cecil St, Prahran). I love their Shanghai style dim sum, and they have an excellent tea menu there.
For more chats with interesting Melburnians, click here.