With whimsy, effort and loads of confectioned goodies, the head corporate pastry chef at Albert Uster Imports Inc., Anil Rohira, and his assistant, Lauren Haas, recently brought to life a fantastic display of culinary talent.
In preparation for the upcoming “Sweet Charity” event, Anil and Lauren manufactured, from scratch, a gorgeous three-layered cake hat and a beautiful, sugar-based, heart-shaped decoupaged dress. Draped on the pageant body of former Miss District of Columbia Kate Michaels, the delightfully tempting combination instantly intrigues.
“There was a lot of pouring and pulling and forming and shaping to create the edible dress,” said the humble Anil. “It was all very temperature sensitive. The process was quite long.”
And the effort shows in the unbelievable details. For the hat, the rising tiers of the creamy fondant acts as the perfectly simple backdrop to the red hearts, virginal white and pastel pink dots and the exploding dark chocolate blossoms. The skirt and gold-painted belt are equally eye-popping with their remarkable semblance to the latest runway fashions.
Anil generously deflected any praise of his ingenuity by stating, “We worked with the students at a local design school to pick one (a dress sketch). We wanted to give students a chance to participate.”
But, in the end, it was he and Lauren who brought the design to life, and his joy in the process could not be contained. Even with his nine years of experience as Albert Uster’s corporate pastry chef, Anil still has wonder and amazement in the process of turning sugary sweets into magic for the senses.
“Originally I didn’t know what I wanted to do," he said. "I thought maybe I was interested in hotel management. Then, on my first day of training, I walked into the elevator in a pastry outfit. The doors opened to the pastry kitchen. Everything (felt like it) was in slow motion.”
That’s when he knew.
“I knew I wanted to be a pastry chef when I saw the waving éclairs," he said. "It was like going from one world to another -- and I was instantly intrigued. It was my defining moment.”
And he hasn’t looked back since.
Published at 6:35 PM EDT on Jul 29, 2009 | Updated at 6:00 AM EDT on May 6, 2009