Executive pastry chef of Sydney’s Shangri-La Anna Polyviou has been pushing the boundaries with her highly-talked about dessert degustations, and recently winning the All Covers best high-tea in Sydney. Most recently, she also made an appearance on MasterChef where she presented her take on a carrot cake. Over the years, Polyviou has also worked in kitchens including The Bather’s Pavilion and in London’s The Claridges Hotel.
Who is your inspiration?
I surround myself with people I admire and want to learn from. So many great Australian pastry chefs are rocking the industry. I run the Sydney Pastry Club so each member is my idol: John Ralley who plays on with sugar, Andy Bowden with his crazy cakes, and the godfather of pastry Jean-Michel. I can’t go past Donato and Nick from Gelato Messina; they have really pushed the gelato scene. The club was formed so we would all be inspired and have the network with each other and support. Also let’s not forget my pastry team too, and their skill and determination to be the best. They push me to challenge myself as a pastry chef and improve myself not only as a chef but a leader, too.
What’s currently in your pantry?
There’s the gourmet section of the pantry that contains olives from my uncle’s garden, olive oil from Greece, tomato sauce from summer all bottled up ready for use, and different dry herbs and spices. Then there’s the naughty indulgent side of the pantry, which I tend to put away from eye sight. I can’t get away from my chocolate and lollies but they have to be Allen lollies. With chocolate, I have Callebaut chocolate for my pastry creating, and for snacking…well Kit Kat is my weakness.
What’s in your fridge?
Mum’s homemade haloumi cheese along with her spanakopita, fresh lobster that my friend caught from the front of his house in Bondi, bottle of Louis Roederer Cristal, and fruit and vegetables. The bottle of champagne isn’t always there, it’s to go with the lobsters; I wish there was a never ending supply.
Best thing to come out of the microwave
Cake in a cup: Three different ingredients mixed in the bowl straight into the microwave, and it turns into a self-saucing dessert in no minutes. Everyone is impressed by how simple and quick it is to make.
What did you last eat?
Egg white omelette with fetta, chilli, and spinach
Where do you like to go out to eat?
I like to go to hidden places for dinner where you share and interact, and it’s not too formal. I’m a huge fan of Asian cuisine, but then saying that I love going out to breakfast places for great coffee, great breakfast, and great little set ups with rustic pastries, too.
When I’m not cooking, I’m…
I’m really into streetart, so I go down alley ways in the streets of Sydney taking photos of the artwork. Then I hit the vinyl stores and collect old school records. But I’m also always hitting the cafes to have breakfast. I travel a lot so there’s every opportunity to do that when I’m in a different state or country.
Butter, margarine, a mix or neither?
Butter and it has to be Pepe Saya. Not only is Pepe my friend and I love his product, but because its Australian and handmade.
Kitchen tools I can’t live without
Electric mixer with different attachments for different jobs, my scales as without them I won’t be able to weigh anything up, serrated knife for cutting, spatula to fold ingredients, and my tweezers to place the final touches on my creations.
Cookbooks I always return to
I just recently collaborated with 100 Australian chefs to create The Great Australian Cookbook, and all the money goes to Oz Harvest but it’s a book of favourites to cook at home. Kirsten Tibballs’ Chocolate to Savour due to the step-by-step techniques are ideal. Also Christophe Michalak’s Michalak Masterbook. It might be in French and I can’t read it but it’s inspiring; I love his work and his style, plus he’s a super nice guy.