By SOL VANZI
Imagine standing in the kitchen and inhaling the sweet aroma of butter creamed for a precise number of minutes, sugar slowly caramelizing, and cocoa powder measured to the last gram, all coming together in harmony.
This is the essence captured in A Piece Of Cake, the cookbook featuring sweet creations from chefs Miko Aspiras and Aileen Anastacio, which was launched at the Diamond Hotel last week.
For Chef Miko, the idea for the book had always been in the back burner.
“A few years ago, I had this idea for a book that would cater to homebakers and professionals. Back then, it was challenging to think of ways to bridge that gap because it would mean a big industry to cover. I wanted to do a book that had two versions of the same dessert. On a chance meeting in Boracay, I pitched the idea to Chef Aileen right away,” he muses.
“It almost felt like everything fell into place at the right time. After all, I was due to make another book. The idea was for me to do the timeless versions of the confections I knew by heart, while Miko created an avantgarde twist to my classics,” Chef Aileen recalls fondly.
CHEF MIKO’S EARLY START
“I was five years old. It was one weekend morning, I distinctly remember coming down to our kitchen and smelling cookies freshly baked by my aunt Annie. Ever since then I would wake up earlier on weekends and help her mix her cookie batter.”
He then graduated from cookies to cheesecake, which was a big leap. He still prefers desserts over savory dishes, but also ventures into foreign cuisine when entertaining.
“I love cooking and entertaining at home. Whether for a grand occasion like Christmas, birthdays, or as simple as dinner for my husband. I make it really special every time. I love cooking French, Japanese, Mexican, Asian, and Filipino dishes.
Revolutionizing the local pastry scene, Chef Miko is a dessert genius with progressive visions and a masterful finesse. Since getting a degree in culinary arts from De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde in 2004, he has been professionally specializing in pastry arts.
Miko was at the helm of the flagship stores of Magnum Café in Manila, Singapore, and Malaysia in 2015, and was hugely responsible for bench marking operations and taste standards for the world-renowned concept .
Over the years, he has amassed numerous prestigious awards, including gold medals in the Philippine Culinary Cup, Hong Kong Food Exposition, and the World Association of Chefs Societies, Esquire Magazine’s Chef of the Year in 2015, and a highlight of the 2016 Madrid Fusión as speaker .
In 2018, he was hailed Philippine Tatler T. Dining’s Best Pastry Chef, was included in the Forbes List for 30 Under 30, and reached the semi-finals of the Valrhona Chocolate Chef Competition. Currently, Miko is the executive pastry chef and partner of the Tasteless Food Group, which brought celebrated concepts like Scout’s Honor, Le Petit Soufflé, Freezer Burn, Poison, and The Workshop to fruition. In 2018, he was selected to become a major collaborator for Milkmaid, and was also recently named the brand ambassador for premier brands like Valrhona Asia-Pacific and Pavoni Italia. He is also the first Filipino pastry chef to be featured in the prestigious So Good Magazine. In the book A Piece of Cake, he develops experimental pastries that call for the highest sense of skill and taste.
VETERAN AWARD WINNING CO-AUTHOR
Chef Aileen Anastacio has been making waves in the Philippine culinary industry for more than two decades as a renowned pastry chef and coffee connoisseur, cookbook author, food columnist, cooking show host, food consultant, and entrepreneur. Her decadent pastries and innovative coffee concoctions have created a wide demand for her work over years.
After extensive culinary training from the California Culinary Academy, she worked at the prestigious La Nouvelle Patisserie and St. Francis Westin Hotel, where she honed her skills in pastry arts. Aileen also pursued continuing education in the American Barista and Coffee School, Saigon Culinary Art Center, At-Sunrice, Chiang Mai Thai Cookery School, and took countless other specialized classes overseas, learning opportunities that helped her achieve a global flair and widened her knowledge .
She has produced two bestselling cookbooks—Home Café in 2010, which showcased quintessential coffee-dessert pairings, and Homemade for the Holidays in 2012, with more than 60 recipes for food gift suggestions and holiday entertaining.
Home Café was proclaimed the Best Dessert Book at the 2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. It was also translated and published in Mandarin a few years after its debut.
Her strong desire to inspire more people to cook and bake led Aileen to host True Confections and My Favorite Recipes, which were sensational hits during their time. She also wrote food columns and recipe contributions for local and international publications.
Aileen is presently managing her companies, C’est Si Bon, Corp. and Marmalade Kitchen, Inc., through which she supplies confectionaries to various cafés and offers private dining and consultancy services. She also frequently holds lifestyle classes and barista training sessions that accommodate both beginners and experts.
Available at apieceofcakebook. com, the cookbook seeks to guide anyone through comprehensive leaps and bounds in the dessert-making process