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Best Pastry Chef Award 2024

Kenta Takahashi

Delightful creations emerge continually from the sweet kitchen at Vancouver’s Boulevard. Like miniature croissants, and green tea crepes. And pavlova, with velvety swirls and a shatteringly crisp exterior — and in ever-evolving presentations ranging from deconstructed to fantastical. This kicks into overdrive on Kenta Takahashi’s dessert tasting menus, which change quarterly. They celebrate the seasons through six exacting, exquisitely indulgent courses — providing Takahashi’s guests as much adventure, innovation and surprise as any succession of savoury plates.

That focus on precision and seasonality was largely imparted by this pastry chef’s time at Ohara, one of Tokyo’s first Michelin-starred restaurants. Takahashi also learned French technique at the Tokyo patisserie La Vieille France. Then at 23, he risked moving to Vancouver. “I didn’t speak English at all,” he recalls. “I dropped resumés at about 50 restaurants — nothing.” Finally, revered local pastry chef Thierry Busset hired him at Thierry. At Boulevard, Takahashi now works with Alex Chen, a similarly French-trained chef, whose dishes combine classical sensibility and contemporary flair.

He’s aiming to play a similar mentor role to the up-and-comers who work with him. “Now it’s my turn to pass this along.” There are no trade secrets in his kitchen. He details every step of his oeuvre, from creative conception to execution, for his pastry proteges. “The next generation has incredible motivation and creativity; the technique just isn’t fully there yet.” So, he’s happy to help with the gift of his knowledge and time.

Takahashi finds that the young guns offer new ideas and world views that fuel his own creative process — collaboration over competition. “Without opportunity, people don’t grow,” he says. “And if people aren’t growing here, they’re going to go to New York or France. I want Vancouver to be one of the best destinations for pastry and that will take more than me.”


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