Pastry Chef Sergio del Castillo Mora….Japanese inspirations

1,The first dessert is reflecting on the Zen Gardens in Kyoto.

 Muso Soseki, a Zen priest and poet known as the father of the Zen rock garden, was born on the west coast of Japan in 1275, and died in 1351 in a temple on the outskirts of Kyoto, where he had created one of his last rock gardens.

This inner contemplation and calm can lead to a fresh outlook and clear mind. Like a restorative balm, Zen gardening is an antidote to stresses of modern living.
The gardens are a means to discover the sources and strengths of our natural humanity which, according to Zen teaching, is poised, calm, sincere and capable of facing all matters in life with calmness and perfect composure.

2, Schichimi Macaroon

Shichimi is distinguished from ichimi tōgarashi (一味唐辛子), which is simply ground red chili pepper, and means literally “one flavor chili pepper” (ichimeaning “one”).

A typical blend may contain:

Near the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine in the Northwest section of Kyoto lies Chobunya, the only shop in the city where you can get your shichimi togarashi (seven spice powder) blended just the way you like it. Shichimi togarashi may have originated from China but developed over the years into a uniquely Japanese condiment.

It dates back at least to the 17th century, when it was produced by herb dealers in Edo, current day Tokyo, and sometimes it is referred to as Yagenbori(Japanese: , from the name of the original place of production). Most shichimi sold today come from one of three kinds, sold near temples: Yagenbori (やげん堀?) sold near Sensō-ji, Shichimiya (七味家?) sold near Kiyomizu-dera, and Yawataya Isogorō (八幡屋磯五郎?) sold near Zenkō-ji.

It is more fragrant and herbal than hot and spicy, the depth of flavor comes from the seven (or more) different ingredients, typically: dried red chili pepper, roasted black and white sesame seeds, dried ground orange (citron), hemp seeds, poppy seeds, dried seaweed and my personal favorite,sansho peppercorns.

Japanese food is not typically spicy, and Kyoto cuisine is even less so. Shichimi togarashi is used as an accent to add a little kick to certain foods and is usually found at the table, in small bamboo containers, instead of in the kitchen. At home, it’s a nice condiment to have on hand: Try a sprinkling some on a steaming bowl of udon noodles, or atop a skewer of yakitori. A little of this deeply aromatic spice is all you really need.

Here you can see the blending in action. Upon walking in to these kind of shops, one is enveloped by the aroma of yuzu and pepper. The seven ingredients were contained in rectangular containers with transparent lids to show their colorful display.

There is a recommended standard mix, but customers can specify a little more sansho, red pepper or any favorite ingredient to taste. The  Kyoto’s blend is typically less spicy than togarashi found in other regions.

3, Choux Pastry with a almond and red miso crust filled with Tamagozake flavoured white bean

This dessert is inspired by Japanese Wagashi principles.

Wagashi are delicious traditional Japanese confectionaries that embody the four seasons and masterfully fashioned by artisans – a skill that has been passed on from generation to generation – to represent various motifs of nature and come in all colours and shapes and are a feast for the eyes as they are for the mouth…

The main ingredients used are beans, grains, sesame seeds, potatoes, various fruits and nuts, and sugar.  They are low in calories and high in vegetable protein and therefore very healthful.  This is principally why the Japanese have been enjoying Wagashi for centuries and the reason so many health-conscious Westerners are now progressively including them into their diets.

These flavoursome edible works of art can be eaten between meals, as a dessert and when drinking tea.  As a matter of fact, they were traditionally served during the tea ceremony, known as Chanoyu, to sweeten the palate which would counteract the bitter taste of matcha, a powdered tea whisked with hot water to make an earthy-tasting froth-like beverage.  Furthermore, it was through the popularity of the tea ceremony that a large number of Wagashi became available, and over the years, they gradually developed into the exquisite confectionaries loved by many today.

4, A new interpretation of Tart Tatin

You can read all about this in my article about the egg of Dali and the Tatin sisters

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Pastry passions…Sergio del Castillo Mora

Sergio Del Castillo Mora

I met Sergio in 2008, we were both working in Nobu London at the time. We have been a team ever since.

He has learned the art of pastry over the last 11 years . Sergio initially went to Escuela Superior de Hostelería de Sevilla for 4 years to then study’d with some of the worlds best pastry chefs, Mateu Casana and Andres Conde from el bulli, Rubén Álvarez, Jodi Roca, Ramon Morato Parés, Josep Maria Ribé and many more creative and leading pastry chefs.

We have traveled since 2008 to many conventions, and conducted many researches together inorder to develop new Ideas in pastry.  In 2009 he went to japan were he worked in BVLGARI with pastry head chef Rafa Charquero and executieve head chef Luca Fantin. In japan we conducted intensieve research of Wagashi and japanese culture as a source of inspirations.

This is the first solid and loyal partnership I have experienced as a chef and as a person. Having loyalty and support like this has propelled me into finding the courage and perseverance inorder to never give up in establishing the restaurant of our dreams.

Sergio del Castillo Mora was part of the Nobu Company working closely with Executieve Head Chef Regis Cursan for 7 years and Pastry Head Chef in Nobu Berkley London.

This dessert was inspired by the japanese Pagodas.

pagoda is the general term in the English language for a tiered tower, built in the traditions originating in historic East Asia or with respect to those traditions, with multiple eaves common in NepalIndiaChinaJapanKoreaVietnamBurma and other parts of Asia. Some pagodas are used as Taoist houses of worship. Most pagodas were built to have a religious function, most commonly Buddhist, and were often located in or near temples. This term may refer to other religious structures in some countries. In Vietnam and Cambodia, due to French translation, the English term pagoda is a more generic term referring to a place of worship, although pagoda is not an accurate word to describe a Buddhist temple. The modern pagoda is an evolution of the Ancient Nepal stupa, a tomb-like structure where sacred relics could be kept safe and venerated. The architectural structure of the stupa has spread across Asia, taking on many diverse forms as details specific to different regions are incorporated into the overall design.

The origin of the pagoda can be traced to the stupa (3rd century BC). The stupa, a dome shaped monument, was used as a commemorative monument associated with storing sacred relics. The stupa emerged as a distinctive style of newari architecture and was adopted inSoutheast and East Asia, where it became prominent as a Buddhist monument used for enshrining sacred relics. In East Asia, the architecture of Chinese towers and Chinese pavilions blended into pagoda architecture, eventually also spreading to Southeast Asia. The pagoda’s original purpose was to house relics and sacred writings. This purpose was popularized due to the efforts of Buddhist missionaries, pilgrims, rulers, and ordinary devotees to seek out, distribute, and extol Buddhist relics.