“I like to create dishes that aren’t just yummy but a really interesting experience people will remember,” says Youssef Aderdour.
The Executive Pastry Chef at Pascale Bar & Grill, on the first floor of boutique hotel QT Melbourne, is responsible for an unusual inventory. These include the popular Napoléon Blanky (raspberries mille-feuille), Birds Milk (floating meringue with almond, raspberry, milk anglaise and caramel sauce), and cherry and chocolate profiteroles (vanilla gelato, cherry marmalade, spiced cherries in chocolate sauce).
All are informed by Aderdour’s work alongside legendary French chefs Alain Ducasse and Joel Robuchon, and have links to European desserts and classics of the ’70s and ’80s. But for his newest creation, a Rustic Chocolate Stove – literally, a miniature chocolate stove, inspired by a similar dish he saw while dining in New York – Aderdour’s ambition was to create a dessert as fun to look at as it is to eat.
“People raise their head when they see the stove go by,” he says. “And when it arrives at their table, they’re excited to see the extent of the detail.”
The stove comprises five separate components; chocolate, hazelnut biscuit mousse cake, dark glaze, caramel sauce and raspberry sauce. All elements are assembled over two days.
First, the chocolate is melted and tempered until thin, shiny and crackly. Templates are cut for the stove’s walls, shelves, and intricate details, such as the small pots and wooden spoons.
“The challenge was to make every bite different and exciting,” says Aderdour, “so every element is consumed, leaving nothing behind on the plate.”
The base of the stove is a hazelnut biscuit and mousse cake, made the day after the tempered chocolate is. From there, Aderdour and his kitchen construct the final dish. “It’s a great team effort,” says Aderdour, “to create a dessert that can be delivered with the same quality, whether we’re making just one, two or a thousand chocolate stoves.”
Unsurprisingly for such a complex creation, the dessert has many flavours and textures – crunch from the nutty biscuit cake; creaminess from the mousse; and a sweet, acidic touch from the raspberry sauce. But despite its delicate construction, Aderdour says it’s better attacked than assessed.
“It’s designed to be shared,” he says. “Take a little spoon with your fingers, feed each other and break everything. It’s more fun that way.”
This article is presented in partnership with QT Melbourne.