Gelatos, salted caramel and candy pop corn are just a few of the sweet treats that fulfil the days of Executive Pastry Chef Anna Polyviou.
1. Your restaurant/business:
Shangri-La hotel, Sydney- Pastry kitchen
2. Describe your kitchens:
I’ve got a team of ten pastry chefs, which are driven and passionate about what they do. It’s a fun and different working environment. Challenging ourselves and thinking outside the box. We take care of the Lobby Lounge, which is afternoon tea and patisserie products. The Cafe Mix, in-room dining, functions, cakes, bakery and the list goes on. Although what stands out from the rest of the hotels and kitchens are our themed dessert degustation we do in the kitchen in collaboration with pastry chefs – 22 seats at $165 and tickets sell out within 5 minutes. I’ve done them so far with Adriano Zumbo, Gelato Messina, Lux Bite Melbourne and just finished with Andy Bowden from Hartsyards.
3. Favourite Chef Works item and why:
Urban collection -very cool, I love denim. Goes perfect with my SweetStreet event I’m doing. Dressing up all my waiters with the Manhattan Bib aprons and the driver cap is very cool and urban. The clothing line makes a statement.
4. First job:
Asian bakery, counter girl.
5. Your cookbook:
I don’t have my own, although I’ve been involved in a lot. I wrote 3 of Serge Dansereau books on the sweet side, I believe there is a slight mention at the back of his cookbook.
I’m in The New Patisseries cookbook as one of 34 pastry chefs around the world - beautiful book.
I’m also a regular chef in So Good cookbook which is based in Spain. I do want to write my own book, it’s one of my goals that I want to achieve in the near future.
“Best Apprentice in Victoria” Les Toques Blanc
“Best Dessert in the UK” The Nadell Trophy
“Best Chocolate Dessert in Australia Callebeut” Callebeut 2008
“Best Dessert in Australia” Food service 2014
and just recently received “Highly Recommended Recipient-Chef of the Year NSW Chef TAA awards” 2014
7. Your cooking inspiration:
Comes from everywhere, I surround myself with people that inspire me to create - My staff, my pastry chef friends and just everyday creations.
Seasonal produce or it could be one dessert item that I see and then create around it. I always play on classics and turn them into a fun modern twist.
8. Your speciality dish:
I’m known for my desserts, the carrot cake that has a modern twist due to winning “Best dessert In Australia”. Although currently everyone knows me for “Anna’s Mess”, originally it was actual dessert and then I turned it into a petit patisserie item for the lobby. I wanted a signature creation that people could only get at the Shangri-La hotel.
It’s a play on Eton’s Mess which is a British dessert that has strawberries, cream and meringue. It’s rustic and tasty. I wanted to do my own spin on it. Make it elegant, exciting; throw in my name and personality as I created it - FUN. Give it that wow factor in it, where the person questions the creation.
It’s all beautiful, pretty and you question if you even want to eat it because it looks so good. Yet the only way to eat it is to make a mess of it. Crack it and it becomes a big mess, sprinkle pop-rocks from a test tube, mix it together to get all the flavours and textures and eat it. To give it that extra twist of fun.
9. Favourite dish to eat:
Oh my mums stuffed zucchini flowers which has mince, spices and rice. Topped with Greek yoghurt and then a side of char-grilled haloumi cheese. Homemade bread drizzled with my uncles’ olive oil along with his red wine that he makes too. Nothing beats fresh home cooked food.
10. Wierdest thing you have ever eaten:
My girlfriend’s cooking, hope she doesn’t read this. No, she cooks well when she does cook - occasionally.
There was a restaurant I went to make a dessert using apple, cucumber, fennel, wasabi ice-cream, pea, white chocolate and yoghurt mousse. There were so many flavours and with savour and sweet I’m not too much of a big fan. But somehow it all worked and has left a memory.
11. Favourite ice cream flavour:
Salted caramel and candy pop-corn. I love gelato/ice cream - now that’s what I could eat every day. It pays to be friends with the owners from Gelato Messina, N2 Nitro Gelato and my mate Andy Bowden from Hartsyard with his weekly whippy ice-creams.
12. Favourite drink:
Cosmopolitan, coffee martinis or champagne - although I do like tropical cocktails too.
13. Favourite wine:
I’m more a champagne kind of girl, Dom Perignon Brut Vintage or Louis Roederer Cristal if someone else is paying.
14. Who would you most like to cook for:
I’ve always wanted to do a priceless experience for sick kids, where I create an editable world with a team of pastry chefs from Sweetstreets. Where all my different pastry chef friends come together and create a Willy Wonker experience that you can’t get anywhere - the chocolate fountain and the flowers you can eat out of sugar, or the ice world where it’s all made out of gelato. That would mean a lot to me, and I believe it will happen one day, it’s a dream of mine. That’s why I’m doing Sweetstreet on the 13th of August, and if it’s a hit I can recreate it next year for the kids.
15. Who would you least like to cook for:
I’ve always wanted to do a priceless experience for sick kids, where I create an editable world with a team of pastry chefs from Sweetstreets. Where all my different pastry chef friends come together and create a Willy Wonker experience that you can’t get anywhere - the chocolate fountain and the flowers you can eat out of sugar, or the ice world where it’s all made out of gelato. That would mean a lot to me, and I believe it will happen one day, it’s a dream of mine. That’s why I’m doing Sweetstreet on the 13th of August, and if it’s a hit I can re-create it next year for the kids.
16. Least person to cook:
No such thing, everyone and anyone.
17. Favourite things to do outside of the kitchen:
I’m really into street art, so I go down alleyways in the streets of Sydney taking photos of the artwork. Then I hit the vinyl stores and collect old school records. But always it’s hitting the cafes to have breakfast. I travel a lot so every opportunity I’m in a different State or Country.
18. Your latest project:
Currently working on SweetStreet festival. It’s a festival at the Shangri-La Hotel ballroom where 6 of Australia’s top pastry chefs, Adriano Zumbo, N2 nitro gelato, Lux Bite (Melb), Cacao Lab (Melb), Kirsten Tibballs from Savour Chocolate and Patisserie School. They each have stands and each is themed differently, working on the token theme. There’s also a bar, graffiti artist, DJ and giveaways during the night.
19. Favourite city and why:
London is still my favourite city; it brings back such amazing memories such as the restaurants and my training and development. The competition I did in London allowed me to go over to Paris and work with Pierre Herme.
20. Your greatest indulgence:
I think this whole interview is going to be based around ice-cream, gelatos and whippies. I love to indulge with bomb Alaska and I always pick a dessert that has ice-cream. It’s great on the taste buds not on the hips. Maybe I should put my CV in with Gelato Messina hopefully Nick and Donato will hire me.
21. Your all time best culinary tip:
“You work in Sh*t, you look like Sh*t, your work will be sh*t” that’s what I tell my staff so there always cleaning their work benches and come into the kitchen clean and self-respect their presentation. But on another note have fun; create from the heart with humbleness, respect and enjoyment.
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