Vinesh Johny is Asia’s top pastry chef, Forbes Under 30 Asia 2016. CNN 20 under 40 and Expert for WorldSkills India. As co-founder of Lavonne Academy of Baking Sciences & Pastry Arts, India’s first international baking academy, he is an industry pioneer bringing a world-class education to the country he holds dearest.
What’s a typical day at work for you?
My day at Lavonne begins with a cup of coffee with my team, followed by a day filled with fun, activities, dessert trials, production, anticipation and lots of excitement. Although work in the kitchen occupies a big part of my day, I’m always looking forward to come home in the evening and spend quality time with my family and my dog. Be it watching a show on TV, doing some cooking together, going to the movies or even dining at a restaurant; I always ensure I spend quality time with my folks.
Apart from this, fitness occupies a big part of my day to day activity. Cross fit in particular has been great for me and I love spending time at the gym and pushing the limits each day. I’m also quite a passionate biker and am part of the Triumph biker Club. So whenever I can afford a breather, I take off with some off my other biker buddies to cool off on the open roads.
Is there anyone who’s been a big influence on what you do?
It all started during my schooling. Summer vacations and other holidays was my perfect excuse to put the books aside and help my mum in the kitchen. From baking sponge cakes to cooking halwas or preparing traditional family sweets and treats during Christmas; I have always loved being in the kitchen. It was back during my hotel management days, when I realized my love & passion for pastry arts. After graduating from culinary school, I went on to work with, ‘The Oberoi Group’ of Hotels and ‘Starwood Properties’, in many capacities within the realm of Pastry. Every experience I have had during university, internships and my hotel days, through the people I have met and worked with has only helped in strengthening the bedrock of passion I have towards the art. So in many ways, it’s been my mum.
Do you have favourite ingredients you like to work with?
With access to unlimited ingredients, the world of pastry is constantly evolving. There are just too many ingredients in the Indian subcontinent itself. From home grown cocoa to coffee beans from Coorg or chilies from the north-eastern part of India and spices from all across, there is always a new ingredient I am looking forward to working with. It’s quite to hard to pick one. But if I must, I’d pick Chocolate.
Is there an ingredient you think is overused?
In all fairness, Dessert I believe is way of life. There is no right or wrong and neither is there an overuse or underuse of any ingredient. As long as you have put in honesty, creativity, thought and love into the creation, the integrity of the dessert will shine for itself.
What advice do you have for anyone considering a career as a pastry chef?
If you are looking at being a part of the baking world, it surely means that you have already been inspired in the past and you have developed a certain degree of passion for the craft. This in itself is amazing and I am sure it has set the foundation for all the glory you will receive in the days to come.
However, it is extremely imperative that you solidify your dreams and aspiration with some formal education and learning. The initial investment made in educating yourself will surely take you a long way in understanding the art, the chemistry of ingredients and the science involved. Education will also help you understand the fundamentals of basic subjects like storage, safety, hygiene, shelf life, costing, entrepreneurship, etc.
Learning never stops. Therefore, my only advise to all is to constantly keep learning.