Celebrity chefs on tv with a memorable presence; Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson, Gordon Ramsay, Laura Calder, Chuck Hughes, Martin Yan and of course Anna Olson all have a personality on tv. It’s not about trying to be someone else, but being themselves, sharing their food passion and knowledge with abit of humor (GR doesn’t fall in this category however haha) is what attracts the audience to keep watching and watching their programs.
Me and Anna Olson!
I remember many years ago, when Sugar was first on the Asian Food Channel, I would watch it all the time. Anna Olson doesn’t use much equipments in the show and it’s, well, telling people that, sometimes you don’t have to rely on machines to whip up some cream. I remember my first few classes in Le Cordon Bleu, I had to do EVERYTHING BY HAND! If you think mixing choux with machine is taking a long time, try it with a spatula or wooden spoon. Of course in the professional world, no one uses hand to mix choux for 1000 eclairs la ok! Anna Olson mentioned that when she gets an apprentice, she would ask them to make one portion of ‘something’ by hand first, then only proceed with using machines. I think that is great as ideally, you would want to know and feel how the texture is like and be able to catch that when using a mixer. You know from that, that Anna Olson truly have a heart of sharing the knowledge with her apprentices.
Of course, now with her new shows; Bake with Anna Olson, Fresh with Anna Olson has a more uplifting mood to the filming scene with more natural lighting. Fresh with Anna Olson was actually filmed in her beautiful home in the Niagara region, which is close to some of the most fertile and productive farming in Canada. This allowed her to showcase incredibly fresh, seasonal ingredients in her tasty and approachable recipes.
Anna Olson is a professionally trained pastry chef with over fifteen years of experience in the culinary field. She shares her talents with the world through award winning cookbooks, opening culinary businesses and starring in television shows, all of which air on the Asian Food Channel.
Before realising cooking and baking was her true calling, Anna earned a degree in political studies and sociology from Queen’s University of Kingston, Ontario. She spent a few years in banking before deciding it was not her life long dream. Anna promptly enrolled herself into the culinary program at Johnson & Wales University in Denver. After graduating, Anna traveled across the US and finally settled herself in Canada’s Niagara region.
She began her career as a pastry chef at a premier winery restaurant located in the midst of prime Niagara farm and wine country named, “Inn of the Twenty”. It was where she met her husband, Michael Olson
Chef Michael Olson help prepped the station ready for Chef Anna Olson. Husband and wife team!
Anna has also published several successful cookbooks. Currently, she has 6 cookbooks publications under her belt, with her most recent release, Fresh with Anna Olson. Using food as her creative medium, Anna likes to work backwards, starting with ingredients that sound delicious to create components within the recipe body to get a delicious end result. (I know right! just like me.. HAHA)
So during her recent demo in Berjaya University College of hospitality, Anna showcased some of her recipes for this holiday season; Tourtiere; a French Canadian Beef Pie and Pumpkin Creme Brulee Tarts.
As bubbly as on tv, Anna shares some tips on making a good pastry for her Tourtiere. Making a flaky pastry is just as important as getting your souffle to rise. In her recipe she includes something acidic; lemon juice. That acidity promotes flakiness and combines the gluten strands better. Resting the dough in the fridge also encourages the gluten to relax, thus making it easier to roll later. So it’s all about patience when dealing with pastry.
Tadah! It is also important to cut a hole, or slits through the top pastry to let some of the steam release off when it’s baking.
After the tourtiere, she proceed to make the pumpkin creme brulee tart. Wow, u know actually a couple of weeks before this event, I had a pumpkin creme brulee in a restaurant, thinking, hey quite creative huh! But it turned out to be like scrambled egg. SO BADLY DONE! I vowed never to have desserts in the restaurant. So well I was very curious on how Anna was going to make hers. Pumpkin do have some water content in them and mixing water in custard can sometimes cause it to split if didn’t done right. I wasn’t doubting her of course, I knew hers would come out awesome. I just wished the people from the restaurant was there at the demo, and rectify their bad dish.
The pumpkin creme brulee tart is encased in a pate sable, that has 1 hard boiled egg yolk in it! She also very kindly shared this ‘secret’ from which she learned while working for another chef. interesting.. For the pumpkin filling, she also added some cream cheese into it to give it more structure and tangy flavour. Another thing I learnt was while bruleeing the top, do it layer by layer, meaning, sprinkle a light amount of sugar, torch, then add on another layer of sugar, torch and another layer, torch. This would ensure a good layer of sugar crust on top.
Oh I really liked the pumpkin creme brulee tarts. I maybe, will put the filling straight into a ramekin and bake as it is. I will put up the recipe next and you can try it at home!
Thanks to Alice George communication for the invitation to this event hosted by The Asian Food Channel (AFC) in collaboration with Berjaya University College of Hospitality with Celebrity Chef Anna Olson.
You can now catch Anna Olson’s latest tv show, Bake with Anna Olson, exclusively premiered on Tuesday 16 October 2012 at 9pm on the Asian Food Channel. Watch the intro here. (sorry it takes a while to load)