Ahead of The Great Australian Bake Off launch, we chat with award-winning pastry chef Anna Polyviou.
When you think of Anna Polyviou, what probably springs to mind first is her unique hair, colourful sneakers and G-shock watches. It's this crazy love for all things urban that has made her stand out from the rest of the pastry-loving crowd.
LifeStyle sat down with Anna to chat all things pastry, baking, and the pros of entering a competition such as The Great Australian Bake Off.
What made you want to become a baker?
Well I’m actually a pastry chef, but it does cover baking as well. I love the fun of it, the whole finesse of using different fruit, chocolate, and I just couldn’t even tell you why! I just love it. With pastry it’s completely different. There’s a fun element, an artistic element. It’s a lasting impression on someone’s emotions as well. And just thinking outside the box more than a savoury chef would.
Would you audition for a show like The Great Australian Bake Off if you were starting out?
Yeah, for sure. It’s so much fun. Especially if Maggie Beer’s on there! I love her. I would definitely do it because when you’re doing competitions and different things, you tend to learn a lot faster and that’s required when you take your time with it.
"The Pink Flute" cake made by Anna and her team for the Great Australian Bake Off poster!
If you were a dessert, what would you be?
(You) see it’s chocolate, but then it’s custard. Everyone always gets overly excited over custard for some reason. And there’s facial expressions too that come with describing custard… that scares me sometimes (laughs).
When was the moment you realised you wanted to be a pastry chef?
It was definitely when I was younger, when I was in Year 11 doing Home Economics. I did really well and so I knew that that was what I wanted to do. I was a kitchen chef originally in a competition, and at the same time they wanted to get rid of me because I was a party animal. And so it just turned my life around. It just evolved from there.
What’s your first baking memory?
On a Sunday afternoon, I would have been about 10. Mum had taken fresh bread out of the oven and just the aromas set me off.
What’s your top tip for someone that wants to become a pastry chef?
I’d definitely recommend doing a three-year apprenticeship, reading a lot, dining out a lot, asking a lot of questions, but most importantly surrounding yourself with quality people that can train and develop you. Also nurture you and mould you to the person you want to be.
What’s the one piece of kitchen equipment you couldn't live without?
It would definitely have to be scales, because you need to weigh up everything to create.
Do you remember what it was like, and whether it was a dream come true at the time to train with Pierre Herme?
You know what? I won a competition and I didn’t even know who Pierre Herme was! Then I went there and he said to me, 'Do you have my books?' And I said, 'No I don’t'. He walked off from me. It was a hard place. They would only speak to me in French, but the whole experience was so magical I forgot about the whole other scenario and was looking at that. It was like walking into a jewellery store where everyone was wearing white gloves, this gold tray came around, and people were placing the products on there. But just the machinery...there was a macaron dispenser. I use them now, but we’re going back 15 years. At the time I had never seen anything like that before. It was just amazing and different.
You're known for your funky and urban dessert ideas which are definitely on-trend right now. Why do you think people really love this type of dessert?
You know what it is? These designs have a different identity. Katherine Sabbath's got her look, but with me, because I’m into street as well, I've got the graffiti look that's funky but also has a sense of elegance. People can relate to my hair and it feels like they’re friends of mine. It’s just about being identified from the crowd, more than anything and having your own personality.
"PINK FLUKE" has made a television appearance... Watch out for her... Mine & @jessicatimpano91 creation... @jessicatimpano91 is the insider & I'm the outsider team work... #cake #bake #pastry #pastrychef #pastryteam #munchies #macaron #chocolate #annapolyviou #sweet #strawberries #food #foodporn #fun #learn #yum #yumyum #team #respect #fluke
The Great Australian Bake Off premieres exclusively on The LifeStyle FOOD Channel Tuesday October 13, 8.30PM AEDT.
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