Portraits

Meet The Chef - Phuong Quach Fung

In the Meet The Chef series, discover a Cercle V chef, learning their background, inspirations, and ideas. Enjoy the in-depth Q&A with each chef along with an exclusive recipe.

MEET THE CHEF

PQ Portraits
A San Diego, California native, Chef PQ found her calling in the kitchen at a young age. She has almost 10 years of culinary experience, starting her career working as a server before starting her journey working in the kitchen. Chef PQ studied at Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena and followed her career all over California. Currently, she is the Pastry Chef for Alexander’s Patisserie of Alexander’s Group.

For years she has worked at famous patisseries such as Bottega Louie, Tout Sweet, and Sixth Course. She has also worked for Michelin Starred Restaurant Madera and Forbes 5-star rated hotel, Rosewood Sandhill of Menlo Park. Through the years, Chef PQ has deepened her knowledge of French pastry while paying homage to her California and Asian roots. Chef PQ takes inspiration from all of her travels, where each of her creations invokes a memory.

Since her residency at Alexander’s Patisserie, she has started a successful custom cake and wedding cake program that brought another element to the patisserie. Since 2017, she has been leading the Alexander’s team towards culinary excellence, leading to features in Edible Silicon Valley, Nob Hill Gazette, Best of Mountain View, Blackboard Eats, and more.

Q&A

Valrhona: What inspired you to enter the world of pastry?
Phuong Quach Fung: My family immigrated over from Vietnam post Vietnam War, and before then, the entire extended family made a living in the food industry. My mom made rice noodles and my dad was a butcher. I was always inspired to cook and I loved the artistry and science that comes with pastry, so I decided that it was time for me to make the big jump and chase after my dreams. I never looked back and love living my dream every single day.

Valrhona: Who in your life has been the biggest mentor/inspiration in your career?
Phuong Quach Fung: My biggest inspiration for my career has always been my mom. She was able to raise 6 kids in a new country without knowing the language but always made sure to cook 3 square meals every single day for all of us. My greatest inspirations are food that evokes a memory, just as my mom’s meals have done for me. I try to emulate that as much as I could in all that I create, and even in my teaching methods with my cooks

Valrhona: How is your team responding to the new realities of the world during and eventually post-COVID-19?
Phuong Quach Fung: We are learning and adjusting every day. We have always held sanitation and safety in high regard, but now more than ever not just for ourselves but also for the community and guests that we serve. We are hoping post-Covid-19 that we can learn more about sustainability, since ingredients were not as easy to come by, and also watching our waste to save on costs.

Valrhona: What Social Responsibility/Community initiative are you the proudest of taking part in?
Phuong Quach Fung: We are proud of still being able to serve our guests safely while upholding our quality of products. Outside of my work at Alexander's, I was making charity baker boxes to raise funds for Covid-19 Relief Funds and Bakers Against Racism. Total, with the help of generous donors, I was able to donate $4,000, which was 100% of the profits. I also sent out gratitude packages to Frontline Workers, at no cost to anyone. Someone just had to simply send me an address, and I would send it out to say thank you for all that they do every day.

Valrhona: What are your hopes for the future of the world of food and pastry?
Phuong Quach Fung: I hope that we can all learn to work together more as a community to better the product and industry as a whole. When things slowed down, it gave me a chance to focus on what was important and be more hands on with the learning of my cooks. Their growth in their skills and dedication to run around, while wearing masks and cleaning constantly, showed me that we did not need to compromise quality just for quantity. Now with so many shops closing down and unemployment on the rise, it was great to see so many people be able to bake at home and share their products with everyone, while still taking the time to donate when and where we could. Things may never be the same, but that may be the point; we are growing and adapting to be better than ever before.

Valrhona: What should the role of the food/pastry industry be in the community? The world? The environment?
Phuong Quach Fung: I believe that the role of the food/pastry industry in the community is to remember that we are not making food for ourselves, but for others. We are sharing a part of ourselves throughout the years we have dedicated to our craft, so sometimes we should take a moment to talk to the guests, ask what they want and need because, in these times, people need more comfort than ever. I saw how many people were taking the time to bake/cook at home for themselves or their families, and it was nice when we, in the industry, could help teach or supply ingredients to make them successful. For the world and the environment, we should look more at sustainability and watching our food waste. People are lining up for hours to get food from the food bank, or not having enough money to pay bills and get groceries. For that, we should take a look at what we are focusing on and help feed the community in our own way.

Valrhona: What is your most famous dish?
Phuong Quach Fung: My most famous dish would be my London Fog. An earl grey infused mousse cake with kumquat confit, almond joconde, on top of a salted chocolate sablé, glazed and finished with fresh kumquats.

Valrhona: What is your favorite type of pastry to make? To eat?
Phuong Quach Fung: My favorite type of pastry to make and eat would have to be cookies. It was the only thing that my mom let me buy given our financial status back in the day. Whether it is an American classic such as chocolate chip cookie or the famous French macarons, I love to make and eat them all.

Valrhona: If you could pass one bit of insight down to another chef, what would it be?
Phuong Quach Fung: My insight down to another chef would be to take care of yourself and take care of your team. There is no such thing as a successful one-person show, so take care of those who are loyal around you for their success can lead to your own success. You have one body and one mind, so take care of that first because if you cannot take care of yourself, how can you expect to take care of others?

Valrhona: What is your favorite kitchen tip?
Phuong Quach Fung: My favorite kitchen tip is to “open your eyes”. My cooks know I love saying this to them, and it is not just to look carefully where the mis en place is but to open your eyes and pay attention to all the details. To pay attention to what everyone does or does not do so you can learn what to do and what not to do.

Valrhona: What is your favorite Valrhona Chocolate?
Phuong Quach Fung: My favorite is JIVARA 40%. There is something magical about a smooth milk chocolate that isn’t overbearingly sweet and goes well in just about anything you can imagine. I even always finish my chocolate chip cookies with one full JIVARA feve!

Valrhona: What is your favorite perk of the Cercle V program?
Phuong Quach Fung: My favorite perk would have to be how much the Cercle V creates such a community of Chefs. I really enjoy being able to connect with other chefs to be able to share recipes or even thoughts and ideas, whereas I would not be sure how I could connect with Chefs from other regions.

Valrhona: When & how did you hear about Valrhona for the first time? / When & how did your “relationship” with Valrhona start?
Phuong Quach Fung: I was at my first job at Bottega Louie and I have been fortunate to always work with Valrhona throughout my career. Bottega Louie uses exclusively Valrhona just as Alexander’s Patisserie does. The first chocolate that I used was JIVARA and I never looked back. There was something so beautiful about how I felt like there was no such thing as bad chocolate from Valrhona. Thanks to Valrhona chocolate, I was able to grow and write all of my recipes for the past few years and know exactly which one to use and how much to use. It really does take the guessing game out of everything.

Valrhona: Who do you follow on social media?
Phuong Quach Fung: @KrissHarvey, @mrrecchiuti, @honeybeecake, @amauryguichon, @rustamkungurov, executive_pastry_Chef_hin, @yusuke.1019

Valrhona: What do you like to post on social media?
Phuong Quach Fung: I like to post my newest creations or time-lapse videos of the work behind the stuff that I do. I want everyone to be able to see the process behind the creation and not just the finished product itself.

Valrhona: What do you like about the Valrhona App?
Phuong Quach Fung: I love that I can pull up specific chocolate I want to use, and it automatically calculates everything for me.

QUICK FIRE

Nickname?
PQ

Celsius or Fahrenheit?
Celsius

Cake or Tart?
Cake

Favorite Restaurant?
Girl and the Goat, Chicago.

Wine or Cheese?
Cheese

Coffee or Tea?
Tea

Favorite Kitchen Tool?
Offset spatula

Go-to snack?
Mango with Taijin

Craziest delicious flavor combination?
Strawberry, mango, habanero

Exclusive Recipe
London Fog

London Fog Chocolate Recipe
INGREDIENTS

Kumquat Confit
2000g Fresh Kumquats
1000g Water
2000g Sugar

Earl Grey Kappa Mixture
2000g Heavy Cream 36%
100g Earl Grey Tea
4g Kappa Carrageenan

Earl Grey Mousse
500g Heavy Cream 36%
500g Milk
200g Egg Yolks
100g Sugar
1100g BAHIBÉ 46% Milk Chocolate
900g Earl Grey Kappa Mixture

Almond Joconde
2000g Eggs (room temp)
1500g Confectioner’s Sugar
1500g Almond Flour
400g All-purpose Flour
1500g Egg Whites
200g Sugar
250g Melted Butter
25g Egg White Powder

Salted Chocolate Sablé
150g Butter (Softened)
120g Light Brown Sugar
2g Vanilla Paste
50g Sugar
3g Fleur de Sel
175g Flour
5g Baking Soda
30g COCOA POWDER
150g GUANAJA 70% Dark Chocolate

Blue Glaze
390g Water
600g Sugar
600g Glucose
430g Condensed Milk
0.08g Blue Food Color
0.05g Black Food Color
1.66g Titanium Dioxide
34g Gelatin Sheets
600g IVOIRE 35% White Chocolate

Web Glaze
100g ABSOLU CRISTAL NEUTRAL GLAZE
8g Titanium Dioxide
 

INSTRUCTIONS

Kumquat Confit

  1. Boil and rinse the kumquats 3 times.
  2. Add in 1/3 of the water and sugar, and cook the kumquats over low heat.
  3. Strain and add in 1/3 more of the simple syrup and repeat the process. Add the last 1/3 and repeat the process one more time.
  4. Strain all the liquid, and robocoupe the kumquats, making sure to remove the seeds.

Earl Grey Kappa Mixture

  1. Boil the 2000g cream and 2g kappa carrageenan, then pour over 100g earl grey tea. Let steep overnight.
  2. Strain the tea from the cream, and rescale the cream to 2000g. Add 2g kappa carrageenan. 
  3. Boil the cream mixture, then pour it over the previously strained tea. Let steep for 20 minutes, then strain again. 
  4. Chill and use the next day.

Earl Grey Mousse

  1. Make an anglaise with the cream, milk, egg yolks, and sugar. 
  2. Pour the hot mixture over the BAHIBÉ 46% Milk Chocolate and emulsify to make the custard base.
  3. Whip up the Early Grey Kappa Mixture and fold it in when the custard is at 95˚F (35˚C).

Almond Joconde

  1. Whip up the eggs with the sifted confectioner’s sugar until full volume.
  2. Sift the almond flour and all-purpose flour into the egg mixture and fold gently. 
  3. Start whipping the egg whites, egg white powder, and sugar into a meringue.
  4. While whipping, start folding some batter into the melted butter, then combine completely. 
  5. Carefully fold the meringue into the batter and spread evenly onto Silpat-lined trays. 
  6. Bake at 500˚F (260˚C) for 8 minutes.

Salted Chocolate Sablé

  1. Paddle the softened butter until smooth.
  2. Add in the brown sugar, salt, vanilla paste, and sugar.
  3. Melt the chocolate and set aside to cool. 
  4. Add in the sifted dry ingredients and then stream in the cooled melted chocolate.
  5. Sheet to 4, cut to shape, and bake at 350˚F (177˚C).

Blue Glaze

  1. Put the water, sugar, and glucose into a pot and bring to a boil.
  2. In a deli cup, blend the blue color, black color, titanium dioxide and a small amount of water together.
  3. Add the color to pot right away. (The color needs to hydrate for a while.)
  4. Add the bloomed gelatin into the mixture.
  5. Pour the hot mixture over the IVOIRE 35% white chocolate and condensed milk and emulsify.
  6. Strain and store.

Web Glaze

  1. Melt the ABSOLU CRISTAL in a deli cup.
  2. Add the titanium dioxide and immersion blend. 
  3. Transfer into a clean deli cup.

ASSEMBLY & FINISHING

Pipe the Kumquat Confit into a 5 inch round cut of Almond Joconde. Freeze completely.
Pour the Mousse into a round entremets mold 2/3 of the way filled. Then, insert the frozen round of Almond Joconde and Kumquat Confit. Fill and finish the mold, scraping off any excess mousse. Freeze completely. 
Unmold the Mousse, and place on top of a round of Chocolate Sablé. 
Glaze with the Blue Glaze, then swipe with the Web Glaze. Once set, top with kumquats and décor of choice. 
 

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