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Best Pastry Chef 2020 Award 2020

Kenta Takahashi

AFTER A SEAFOOD-TOWER FEAST AT VANCOUVER’S BOULEVARD KITCHEN AND OYSTER BAR, DESSERTS EMERGE like fantastical creatures from the sea and rainforest. Scarlet, hard-candy tentacles criss-cross a creamy disc of fromage blanc flecked with silver, airy as mist, its sablé-crumb border like a shell-traced path over a swoosh of raspberry tide. Dark chocolate provides the glossy bark on a slim finger of savoury sesame bar sprouting craggy black-sesame crisps, sitting in puddles of molten toasted marshmallow.

This is the work of pastry chef Kenta Takahashi, exquisitely indulgent and playful creations, alive with nature and the all seasons. With a stint at Ohara—one of Tokyo’s first Michelin-starred restaurants—under his whites, the tall, slim 31-year-old has been serving up meal closers he describes as “super light, but the flavour very intense” at Boulevard over the past four years.

Takahashi, who also worked at the Tokyo patisserie La Vieille France as a Tsuji Culinary Institute graduate a decade ago, is inspired by French pastry technique, a culture as reverent of tradition as his own. But he is also influenced by North American pop pastry—the doughnuts, brownies and towers of sugar that are today’s Instagram bait. At 23, he risked moving to Vancouver. “I didn’t speak English at all,” he recalls. “I dropped resumés at about 50 restaurants: nothing.” Then revered local pastry chef Thierry Busset gave him a tryout before hiring him at Thierry.

“Every day, I was working beside him for two years at Thierry,” Takahashi says. “He is my master. Chef Thierry knows how to twist pastry to a Canadian understanding but still keep the French tradition.”

Takahashi has found his sweet spot with items like Boulevard’s playful bonbon tray, with glistening apple and cherry pâtes fruits, tiny chocolate bars, cut-to-order ropes of soft peach marshmallow, loonie-sized cookies and pastel macarons. It could only have been created by a young-at-heart father of a six- and three-year old.


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