The Sweet Truth: Advice from Heritage Patissier, Nouel Omamalin

March 27, 2018 7:00 pm by Taste.Company
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By Stefanie Ellis

Like many chefs, Nouel Omamalin’s love of food was nurtured at home, at the side of his mom, Ina. Though the two cooked together, it was Nouel’s solo experimentation that led him to realize he liked making bread and cakes above all else. And, thus, a pastry chef was born.

“Cookbooks. started everything for me,” Nouel recalls. So profound were his love of cookbooks, that he would end up collecting them, studying them and, eventually, writing one of his own — Nouel’s Nifty Chic Baking. And so profound his natural talent, that he would end up a pastry chef at the only seven-star hotel in the world without a pastry school education.

Auro Moringa Tart Moringa is the new super green! Moringa trees are endemic to the Philippines and now they are dried and powdered. Using the Japanese recipe of cream, butter and chocolate, we added moringa for this tart’s filling and used Philippine’s own single origin dark chocolate, Auro. 

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Photo Courtesy by Chef Nouel Omamalin

How can someone create such an illustrious career, traveling the world, cooking for royalty and  celebrities, and earning culinary awards, all from words on a page?

That brings us to the first of Chef Nouel Omamalin’s truths.

“If you have the passion, you can do anything.”

Passion is what allowed Nouel to hone his skills with a Wilton cookbook and a lot of elbow grease. “During the late 80s, it was difficult to get the materials they used in the book, and I had to improvise a few things,” he laughs. “We didn’t have Youtube, so I watched TV. It wasn’t easy to get into the culinary school back home because it was pricey, so I started with hospitality management at the University of the Philippines.

“I worked as a pastry chef in hotels, and rose up the ranks quickly. The highlight of my experience was the Burj Al Arab, a seven-star hotel. Even up to now, it was the only experience I ever had that influenced who I am right now.”

The best hotel in the world wasn’t the only spot where Chef Nouel Omamalin honed his pastry chops. He also worked at the Fairmont Hotel Dubai, Sofitel Fiji Resort and Spa and the Kuredu Island Resort & Spa in the Maldives, among other exotic assignments. Though he calls Abu Dhabi home, his day job is spent in the skies as an in-flight chef, and he gets to taste pastry all over the world.

Lego Always in love with new ideas, the lego dessert was born! A simple dessert made with layers of flourless chocolate sponge infused with orange, leche flan and 42% Auro single-origin milk chocolate from Davao City, Philippines. 

Nouel-Ommalin-Taste-CompanyPhoto Courtesy by Nouel Omamalin

“You can make anything from a home kitchen.”

When he’s not in the air, he’s in his kitchen. Take a peek at his Instagram feed, and you’ll see stunning creations which look like they belong in a museum. It’s difficult to imagine you can create art like that in a small space, but here’s the proof:

“Everything I’ve created is just from my small home kitchen,” says Chef Nouel. “You need to invest in good quality materials. Instead of shopping for nice clothes, just shop for nice equipment. It will stick with you your entire life.”

Groot Eternally in love with nature, Groot was coined from a famous intergalactic Hollywood movie. Although this one contains layers of chocolate biscuit, 65% Valrhona grand cru chocolate mousse, Philippine mango confit, and a crunchy layer of ChocNut (a childhood favorite) crunch. 

Nouel-Ommalin-Taste-CompanyPhoto Courtesy by Chef Nouel Omamalin

You can shine a spotlight on your heritage through your art.

Despite working across the world and getting a diploma from the famed French Culinary Institute and studying at the L’ecole du Grand Chocolat Valrhona (as in Valrhona chocolate!), something was still missing for Nouel.

“I really wanted to work on a project and have my name on it, and I wanted to be as good as the French pastry chefs,” he says, “but I felt like I was just doing what everyone else was doing. I was very involved in Arabic heritage, but realized I needed to go back to my roots. I went home and brought a lot of ingredients back and realized this is who I should be. I call myself a heritage patissier.”

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UAE Tribute Cake A tribute to my second home, the UAE, on its 38th founding anniversary. It’s made with white chocolate mousse scented with rose petals and orange flower blossom, caramelized pistachios, vanilla sable, honey-baked kunafeh and fresh dates. Photo Courtesy by Chef Nouel

Nouel is helping people understand the Filipino culture through pastry. He’s working to develop a macaron made entirely of pili nuts and palm sugar instead of almonds and white sugar. You’ll see classical French style in his techniques, but will notice distinctive Filipino integration of things like ube, Shamrock Otap, pinipig, macapuno and cassava.

“People back home — suppliers of nuts, ube and other ingredients — have been reaching out to me because they are seeing what I’m doing and want to be represented in my projects,” he says. “They believe it’s time to really push things forward, and I don’t see pastry chefs who are pushing it forward as they could.

“I want to revolutionize the Filipino heritage and support local industries. I want the world to recognize that there’s so much we can do with what we have.”

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Ube A signature recipe of mine using all-natural ingredients: boiled purple yam/ube, palm sugar, coconut milk, and home-grown white chocolate from Davao City whipped into a bavarois and layered with vanilla sponge cake, macapuno cremeux, and pinipig croquant. Photo Courtesy by Chef Nouel Omamalin

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