Exclusive Chat With Pastry Queen Anna Polyviou

Anna Polyviou is hot property. Dubbed the ‘punk princess of pastry’, her eccentric aesthetic, imaginative approach to food and humble nature sets her apart from the rest and landed her the Exec Pastry Chef position at Sydney’s five star hotel, the Shangri-La.

I was fortunate enough to get a sneak peek into Anna’s kitchen, don on some hardware and have a crack at making her famed graffiti-splattered Wag-Anna Wagon Wheels (she shared her recipe here).

With her personal DJ, Brown Rice, mixing tunes in the background, I got a taste of just how much fun it would be working under Anna. Not only is she incredibly down-to-earth, fun and inventive, she can also make the most health-conscious succumb to her magnetic, sugary pastries. 

Following our master class, we were treated to a heavenly high tea and I stole Anna away for a moment to find out what makes her tick – and pinch a few mouthwatering recipes!

Thanks for inviting us into your kitchen, it was so much fun!

I’m so glad you enjoyed it! We do dessert degustation and I thought, what a great place to get people into my kitchen and my world with the machines that I’m currently working with.

What’s your go-to dessert?

I really love custards. My mum makes this semolina custard, so it’s milk custard, filo pastry and syrup. It’s Greek and it’s my childhood, and it’s one of my favourites. It gets the tingles in the tummy.

(Photo: La Tessa Photography)

Are there any dessert trends for 2016 that you’re keeping an eye on?

We were just talking before about how everyone has a whipping machine: Zumbo is doing his donuts with the whippy ice cream, there’s another place that’s opened up that’s doing whippy ice creams, obviously Messina are doing the whippy ice cream – but they’ve been around for quite a while – Mr Whippy is coming back out!

Everyone is still doing the overindulgent chocolate and everything, which is great, but it doesn’t interest me. I understand why people get so excited – it looks great for the camera and on Instagram, so I think that’s what people love about it.

For me, I always tell my team that you need to showcase your skills as a pastry chef and showcase your skills as a chef. That’s the difference for me and I think that’s quite important. That’s why we make our puff pastry and make our own bread rolls – I think it’s quite important.

(Photo: La Tessa Photography)

You now have over 50K Instagram followers…

How many have I got now?

Over 53K.

I thought I had 52K?

No, you’ve passed that!

S*#t! I am trying to grow it to 100K by the end of the year. I always get excited by it.

So, are there any emerging ‘grammers’ that you’re following at the moment?

I follow professional pastry chefs. So, I definitely follow Pierre Hermé, I follow Christophe Michalak. Professionals overseas are what I really, really love.

(Photo: La Tessa Photography)

Aside from your amazing talents in the kitchen, do you have any secret talents?

I used to break dance when I was quite young! I’m taking up dance lessons again. I’m quite chilled out now – but I used to be able to dance. Usually drunken moments, of course.

I definitely know how to eat very well and how to shot very well. So they’re my other two talents. I used to be a very good at drawing too, and I went to art galleries and stuff like that, but not so much anymore.

And finally, do you have any nuggets of wisdom for anyone who is starting out in the pastry world?

I think the key thing for me, is to surround yourself with likeminded people. I think the reason why I am so successful is because I always surround myself with pastry chefs, I took my time in learning and I didn’t rush. Never did I want to be a superstar, I just wanted to be a good pastry chef. I would work on my days off. So, my advice would be go in there, surround yourself with likeminded people, stay humble and be open to anything and everything, and you’ll do very well.

Anna is the ambassador for Kenwood's new Chef Sense Colour range, which is in stores now. 

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