With over a decade of pastry experience behind her, Aiko Uchigoshi is now the head pastry chef at Miku Toronto. If you’ve seen her at work, you’ll know: Her confections are truly awe-inspiring, and her passion for pastry shows. Aiko is well versed in both Japanese flavours and French techniques, winning multiple awards in both sugar and cake competitions. As a leader in an industry often dominated by men, we were curious to learn her take on pastry, coping methods and her guiding philosophy.
We caught up with her this week.
SDTC: When and where do you feel most content/at ease?
AU: I feel most at ease while getting a coffee at a coffee shop with comfortable seating. This is where I think about what desserts and menus I will create next.
Who has had the greatest influence on your culinary career?
My senior chefs while I was working at Grand Prince Hotel Akasaka in Japan. They were very hard-working and taught me a lot, especially since it was my first job in pastry.
Fave pastry to create?
I love making macarons because there are so many flavour possibilities that I can create and it’s also a very delicate dessert. You have to really care about temperature, moisture, etc. because everything affects the macaron.
Least fave pastry to create?
My least favourite pastry to make is puff pastry because it needs to rest for some time in order to fold the next layer, which means I cannot eat it that day!
Who is the best chef of all time?
Definitely elBulli’s chef, Ferran Adrià, because he created gastronomy, which is based in science.
What food always satisfies you?
What film/show has recently wowed you?
A cooking competition show on Netflix: The Final Table.
What’s on your current reading list?
Zendaimimon by Seigo Nakamura.
What Toronto places do you truly love?
What sight are you dying to see?
Mont St. Michel, Paris.
Your go-to coping mechanism?
Go to a high-end restaurant with my friend!
What five things would you want if you were deserted on an island?
What’s a childhood memory that always brings a smile to your face?
When I was an elementary school student, we had to wear white shoes as part of our uniform. There was one day where I wore shoes with pink anime characters on them, but everyone else wore white shoes, so I really stood out. I was so embarrassed that I cried!
What life philosophy is currently helping to guide your journey?
“Don’t be fooled by your surroundings. Follow your heart.”
“Only you can change yourself. No matter how big the change is, it starts all from your step.”
“The present self is the past self; the future self is the present self.”
One skill you’d love to improve this year?
I’d love to master using Microsoft Excel.
What’s a piece of career advice that has served you well?
Pay attention to the small details!
What outfit makes you feel the most you?
Pastry chef’s coat or pyjamas!
What toy have you held onto since you were small?
My rabbit plushie.
What’s a subject that is currently holding your attention?
Outer space and the history of the human race.
When you compare yourself now to where you were at ten years ago, what’s a major change you can identify?
Having the ability to better balance work and life by prioritizing what’s important to me. For example, now I am able to take care of and enjoy having a pet! (A chihuahua named Lily.)
Goal(s) for 2019?
Successfully opening the next Aburi Restaurants location.