My second session of my day at the Langham Melbourne Chef Masterclasses was with Chicago-born Rosio Sanchez, pastry chef at the San Pellegrino’s world number 1 restaurant, Noma.

To say that I was excited was an understatement. I don’t foresee any possibility of flying 24+ hours to Copenhagen any time soon so to have Rosio come to my doorstep with some of her desserts was a dream come true.

Rosio’s session was entitled Sweetness & Light and she was very much that – a very nice lady who clearly loved a challenge in the kitchen. She has worked for two of the most spectacular restaurants in the world – New York’s groundbreaking wd-50 with Alex Stupak and now Noma. With the former employer she has honed her technique and at her current restaurant she has gained a respect for local, seasonal produce. Rene Redzepi (a humble Birkenstock-shod helper throughout her demonstration!) describes her palate as one of the best he’s ever encountered.

On the menu with Rosio were two tastings – Potato and Plums and Gammel Dansk Bitters. The first was a potato mash used as an icecream base and sweetened with the plum kernel to a marzipan/almond flavour. It was so sweet it was almost like the fake almond essence you sometimes taste in cakes – amazing! It was paired with a prune compote (a natural jam from rehydrated plums) with plum juice, plum syrup and plum sauce. Together the most unlikely of pairings turned into one delicious dessert.

The second dessert was also an icecream, this time made with a herbal and rather medicinal tasting form of bitters from Denmark. The disc of Gammel Dansk ice cream hid some crispy milk and milk crumbs (neither of which were particular crispy in the tasting) and a dill sauce. It looks like mashed potato and pesto – and it’s not!

Some of the things I learnt about Rosio:

  • She started her cooking career baking at home. She would bake at night so that the family wouldn’t see a mess while she was working and they could wake up with a ‘ta-dah’ look what Rosio made this morning! She still makes her mom’s favourite banana bread for her mom.
  • She adds salt into all her desserts. That includes the banana bread.
  • She’s currently working on a rhubarb dessert for Noma and is likely to pair it with brown cheese. If you’ve never tried brown cheese, it is a particularly funky-smelling Norwegian specialty. Rosio is thinking of turning the brown cheese into a ganache.
  • Potato and plums is her favourite dessert on the menu at the moment because she was initially so resistant to the idea of making a dessert from potato. The meat marrow petit fours is another one of her favourite dessert items.
  • Her philosophy with creating desserts is always to have something familiar on the plate, especially if you’ve just eaten a challenging meal. Either a familiar ingredient used in an unusual way or an unfamiliar ingredient that’s technically interesting.