Anup Chaubal knew he was mountain bound, but he wasn't quite sure which mountain.
The Mumbai-born executive pastry chef of the Fairmont Chateau Whistler was in Switzerland learning his craft from Swiss chocolate companies and loved the scenery.
"I really loved where I was staying. It overlooked the mountains," Chaubal recalled.
"I'd worked on Caribbean Islands and had beaches around me and I told myself that if I ever had the opportunity to work in the mountains, that was what I would do."
Then the Fairmont opportunity became available, with Chaubal joining the resort hotel in March of this year.
"And Whistler came through! I looked it up and thought, 'Wow, this looks awesome. I have to go here,'" he said.
"I thought it was a wild shot, but if I couldn't work in Switzerland, it had to be something like it. And I think this is even more beautiful than Switzerland."
Before Whistler, Chaubal worked in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and the Caribbean, with Hilton International and Chimera Hotels. He also worked at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in India for five years.
"I've been in the pastry field for the last 19 or 20 years and this is my first time working in Canada," he said, expressing an appreciation for the country's wilderness.
"It's more for you to venture out and find your own Whistler. There is still scope for that."
Chaubal studied hotel management in India and wanted to improve his skills by working with different Michelin-starred chefs around the world.
"We would host them a lot in Abu Dhabi, where we'd have Michelin-starred chefs every six months working with us," he said.
The Middle East is a travelling crossroads, as much as in ancient times. People pass through or visit, and there are a lot of opportunities to blend tastes and culinary styles.
"(Abu Dhabi) is a potpourri of travellers there," Chaubal said.
"There is a pretty dominant Middle Eastern sweet tooth, but for international travellers, it's Dubai that seems to be the spot where they all merge. There are a lot of French chefs with restaurants there, as well as chefs from (Las) Vegas. One ran a steakhouse in our hotel."
And as an example of the variety of the people attracted to the region, Chaubal brings up the luxurious, sailboat-shaped Burj Al Arab Jumeirah Hotel in Dubai.
"When I worked with that group, we actually had 70 nationalities working together in that hotel. That's when you start listening to their stories; you make friends with people and it opens up your ideas of what you thought people were from particular countries. It opens your mind up," he said.
"And foodwise, it's a great place for standard setting. If you need the best of something in the world as an ingredient, you ask for it and you will get it the next day. Whatever you want you will get it, you just need to know how to use it. It was a wonderful place to develop as a chef."
Asked what he thinks of Whistler so far, Chaubal said: "I enjoyed the summer and heading into winter... my colleagues have rave reviews about how it's going to look here and it will be fantastic. At the same time, from the Fairmont's perspective it is going to be a busy season getting into Christmas, which is normally the case anywhere in the world."
He added he is looking forward to taking part in the way the Fairmont creates Christmas for its guests.
"When I came here, I realized that Whistler and the Fairmont has specific concepts of hospitality and we are very true to that. It's local, we do sustainable and whatever grows here we use it freshly. It is a great concept," Chaubal said.
"It tells you to use your imagination with available resources and to develop it. The Fairmont has been doing great stuff since before I got here, but I've tried to introduce trendy ways or modern thought processes into building, and making and emerging flavours."That said, they need to be typically Canadian, B.C. and Whistler flavours. That's what we try to do."
Chaubal has been tasked with whipping up two recipes by the authors featured at the popular cookbook reception at this year's Whistler Writers Festival and adding two from his own formidable repertoire.
Chefs Emily Wright, author of Well Fed, Flat Broke, and Susan Musgrave, author of A Taste of Haida Gwai are signing their works, along with wine writer James Nevison, at Tasting the Divine: Cooks With Books.
It takes place at the Fairmont on Friday, Oct. 16, at 6:15 p.m. Tickets are $15 and available at www.whistlerwritersfest.com.
"I'm excited that we are hosting it," Chaubal said.
"We'll be making bacon fat cookies and welsh cakes. I've added the single-origin Dominican chocolate mini tart and a B.C. raspberry shortcake."
Single origin dark chocolate ganache tart
Single origin Chocolate Ganache
Chocolate Sablé Dough:
Cream the butter and sugar together until smooth and light in colour, then add the egg yolks one at a time and continue to beat until they are incorporated. Sift together the cocoa and the flour and add 1/3 into the egg/butter mixture, gently stirring to combine. Add the remaining flour and cocoa and fold together to form dough. Between two sheets of parchment paper, roll the dough with a rolling pin approximately ¼-inch thick. Place the parchment on a baking tray and freeze for one hour.
Remove from the freezer and let sit at room temp for five minutes, then remove one of the parchment sheets, invert and place on top of a tart mould. Line the tart mould until the dough is covering and fit into the mould. Trim the access dough from the edge of the mould with a knife.
Bake the tart shell at 350ºF (175ºC) for approximately 12 minutes or until cooked through.
Remove and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Chocolate Ganache Filling:
Place the chopped chocolate in a mixing bowl. Boil the whipping cream in a pot with scraped vanilla bean and salt. As the cream heats add some to the egg yolks mixing as your pour.
Pour most of the rest of the boiling cream over the chocolate and let sit for 5 minutes. With a whisk, gently stir the chocolate and then add egg-yolk mix and combine. Add the soft butter and mix till emulsion is shiny. Pour the chocolate ganache into the tart shell and let it sit at room temp for one hour, then pipe the tart with the remaining ganache. Refrigerate overnight.
To serve, remove from the fridge and enjoy at room temperature.
Makes 12 three-inch tarts
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