Sometimes you just stumble onto what you’re passionate about. Sometimes it isn’t planned.
This was the case for Remi Ho, ex-pastry chef of Origo Club and now owner of Remi Patisserie. We caught up with the pastry wizard to hear his story.
Can you tell us about yourself and how you decided to be a pastry chef?
[Remi]: My name is Remi Ho, I’m the Pastry Chef at Origo Club. I’m born in French Guiana. It’s a small country off of Brazil, South America. It’s in the middle of the Amazonian forest, so it’s a third world country.
Basically, the food scene is not amazing over there. It’s good, but it’s not amazing, it’s not international. I didn’t start loving the food industry until I came to Canada. My parents wanted a better education for the kids, so when I came here about the age of grade eight age, I went to high school here, and after high school I just wanted a summer job, so I took a summer job at Tapenade Bistro, in Steveston.
It’s a small French bistro, and I was just a dishwasher there. And slowly I fell in love with the hecticness, and the busy environment of the kitchen. Under the wings of Alex Tung, the head chef back then at Tapenade Bistro, I learned a lot through him. He mentored me, and then now he’s like my very good friend, mentor. So, that’s how I fell in love with this industry. And after high school, after Tapenade I went to Cioppino, Secret Location, and Chez Christophe. At Chez Christophe, was where I learned the most in pastries because it’s a Swiss bakery.
So, over there I was a Sous Chef for three years, and slowly my skills was polished in the pastry techniques. So, I felt I just stumble into this industry by mistake. Because I didn’t know about food that much. I didn’t care about it so much, but I got that passion in it because I loved the kitchen, working in the kitchen, and I liked touching food and I liked seeing customers happy.
So, this is what pushed me to be a pastry chef.
Tell me about the pastries here at Origo Club.
[Remi]: The techniques are French, but I wanted to bring the pastries of France into an Asian community, so I needed to tweak it a little bit. I need to change it, I need to make it more light and less sweet, and but still keeping the French tradition and the mind behind each pastries.
At Origo, I make this Matcha Mochi cream puff. The result: it’s light, creamy, and very loved by this community and Asian people.
Also I have this flan. It’s a French pastry where on the outside, it’s crispy, light parfait, very creamy cheese center. This is something that I love eating when I was a kid. It’s a French pastry, but I added a touch of lightness to it for this community, and who doesn’t like cheesecake? But cheesecake’s always very heavy, very dense.
So, I married it with this flan, which is a super light, sort of creamy in the center, but with a very flaky tart shells.
So, this is a type of pastries that we make at Origo.
“I felt I just stumble into this industry by mistake. Because I didn’t know about food that much…but I got that passion in it because I loved the kitchen, working in the kitchen, and I liked touching food and I liked seeing customers happy. ”
— REMI HO, EX-PASTRY CHEF ORIGO CLUB
Where do you get your inspiration from?
[Remi]: When I travel around the world, for example, when I go to Japan, or when I go to Italy, when I go to France, the food that I eat at these places around the world give me inspiration.
When I taste something, I try to recreate here with that memory, and I try to put my twist in it as well. So, traveling is my place for inspiration.
What do you think Vancouver does well? What do you think Vancouver needs to work on?
[Remi]: I think Vancouver does well in choosing very specialized ingredients.
Specifically, bakers in town does really well about choosing the right ingredients for health conscious. We know that wheat is an issue nowadays because they have a lot of pesticide in it from growing these wheats, and GMO wheat stocks.
But in Vancouver, we have all of these bakers that are very conscious about this and they would go to find specific farms, smaller farms, smaller growers that have very good ingredients, very great flours, and use that in their baking.
It’s a lot more work because you have to go directly to the farmers and it’s more money because it’s a smaller farms. But Vancouver has the ability to use these ingredients, and I think that’s really great.
I think where Vancouver needs to work on is, we’re always a step behind the bigger cities, like Tokyo, New York, Hong Kong. Because these cities h\have a lot more population and there’s a lot more competition between the bakeries, and they try to innovate all the time. And I think Vancouver needs to learn from that.
We need to keep pushing ourself to create things that haven’t been done before.
Where in the world do you think has the most exciting food at the moment?
[Remi]: I think the most exciting place to be right now for food and pastries in general I would say it’s in Japan, Tokyo. We all know that the Japanese are perfectionists. They will take the techniques, hone it and they make it their own and they perfect it.
And I think being in Japan, being in Asia, you have all these great exotic food, exotic ingredients. And they have the resources, the technique, the brain to make it, to elevate the pastries.
So, I think right now in Asia in general, it’s the best place to be for food.
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