Executive Pastry Chef Ghaya Oliveira and Executive Pastry Chef Thierry Delourneaux capture the Rainbow.
It’s hard to compete with the breathtaking views of New York from the 65th floor of the recently reopened Rainbow Room at Rockefeller Center, but Ghaya Oliveira, Executive Pastry Chef at Daniel, and host Executive Pastry Chef Thierry Delourneaux, lured attendees from the windows with a stunning array of over 20 petits desserts and petits fours to cap a multi-course dinner at the Beard Foundation’s annual fall fund raiser. The sold out event netted over $300,000 for scholarships and programs.
Both chefs channeled flavors that reflect their backgrounds. Oliveira, one of Dessert Professional’s Top 10 Pastry Chefs for 2014, explained, “I come from Tunisia and I like to use ingredients from that region,” including several riffs on the desserts she offers at Daniel. Among them, an Orange Blossom Religieuse, Coffee Jivara and Ginger Tarts, and Banana and Passion Fruit Bavarois with Coconut Chantilly. Reflecting her classical French training, Tart Tatin on this occasion morphed into “Pomme Tatin Pomponettes.” Representing her contemporary outlook and whimsical approach, the petits fours included licorice topped with a red capped “mushroom,” and Yuzu and Pistachio Squares.
Delourneaux, originally from Guadeloupe, also favored orange and passion fruit – an Orange Panna Cotta with Lime Meringue, and Passion Fruit Marshmallows. But having held pastry positions in prestigious hotels and resorts around the world for 20 years before arriving at the Rainbow Room in September, his focus is equally global. During a stint as Executive Pastry Chef at the Fairmont Hotel in Singapore, Delourneaux created his own chocolate, and his cacao enthusiasm was reflected at the Beard Gala with Praline and Chocolate Gateaux, Chocolate and Yogurt Rice Pudding, and Milk Chocolate-Peanut Tarts.
The mini but magical desserts captivated the 270-plus Gala guests who buzzed about Oliveira’s “amazing, crunchy” Hazelnut Financiers with Gianduja Mousse, and Delourneaux’s “joyful” raspberry lollypops, while the stars twinkled over Manhattan.