Canadians sighed a little “humph” of sadness when Karine Moulin, Season 4 Contestant Top Chef Canada, and celebrated Hotel Arts Calgary Pastry Chef announced she would be leaving YYC to head to California to pursue new adventures as executive pastry chef at the Hyatt Indian Wells (just outside of Palm Springs). But, alas, if we can help bring some of Canada’s best cuisine to our friends south of the border, then so be it. Moulin is one of Canada’s best known pastry gurus, chefs, and all around culinary experts, we checked in with her just a year after her move to see how dessert is shaping up in the desert.
Question: How has the move from Canada and Calgary’s Hotel Arts to the Hyatt Regency in Indian Wells gone so far? Tell us why you decided to make this exciting career move.
A: I felt that I needed international culinary experience to add to my resume. So far, so good, I’m loving the California culinary scene and am learning a lot about Hispanic food, being so close to the border.
Q: Out of all of the areas of culinary study you could have pursued at Calgary’s SAIT, why were you most attracted to Pastry? What is it about Pastry that creates a creative passion inside you?
A: I started in the culinary industry on the savory side and discovered that I enjoyed the sweeter side more. I went back to SAIT to pursue Pastry Arts and have never looked back. Pastry Arts is technical and creative, but — definitely — my savory experience has made me a better pastry chef, with the understanding of certain flavours and techniques.
Q: If you had to choose (and perhaps this is “Sophie’s choice” and you’ll say you can’t possibly decide) would you rather have a sweet, or savoury pastry dish?
A: I like sweet dishes with a hint of savoury, ie; a lemon tart with fresh thyme in the pastry shell, or shortbread cookies with saffron.
Q: Which Switzerland cheeses, or cheeses in general work best with pastry dishes?
A: I use Gruyere cheese often in our dinner rolls, Raclette in our potato buns, and Vacherin in our bread sticks and in a frozen iced soufflé that I make.
Q: Which are some of your favourite cheeses for munching on and why?
A: My favorite Swiss cheese is hands down Tete De Moine, I love the pungent aspect of this cheese, it’s so unique. I also like using the little wheel to slice off a nice fan of the cheese.
Q: What types of cheeses are most popular in the area of California you are in? Does cheese play a big part in culinary trends down south etc.?
A: There is a lot of Hispanic cheese, such as Queso Fresco, Queso Anejo, Cotija, Oaxaca & Panela. I would have to say that Queso Fresco is very popular in southern California. Cheese is very popular, it’s on the breakfast lunch and dinner menu. I think Americans are crazy about cheddar, it’s a simple cheese, but is a staple in most households, so people really know a good cheddar cheese when they have it.
Q: Would you be willing to share a recipe or a few tips with readers?
A: Yes, recipes are meant to be shared. The best trick in the Swiss cheese scones is make sure your butter is very cold and your cheese too.