HALF HOUR WITH… ROMANA HUSAIN GET...SET...BAKE!
What made you enter the baking and cooking world?
It actually happened very organically. I was an English major at college, but I had a natural knack with combining flavours, art and design. I started as a home baker which quickly evolved into a fulltime cake and dessert business. I knew this was my calling and enrolled in culinary school to become a professional chef. I was very fortunate to be able to train under Chef Nicolas van der Walt and Chef Dirk at the Four Seasons hotel in Johannesburg.
You’re the host of HUM TV’s ‘Bake at Home’. Was there ever a moment where you made a blunder on camera?
Not just one! There have been many such occasions. The kitchen can be an unpredictable place. I once made cinnamon rolls and kept saying how fluffy and soft they are and how this was a fool-proof recipe. They came out flat like pancakes! We had to cut and I had to redo it, and add a recording. What can I say, no one’s perfect.
You’re a culinary chef and a baker. Which one of the two would you pick if you had to?
It would definitely be pastry. That’s where my heart is and it’s also what got me started in this field. That beautiful blend of butter and brown sugar that comes together to make a decadent pastry is something I can’t live without.
One pro and con of being in this field?
One pro is the fact that you have a skill set, which means there will always be work for you, whether it’s at an establishment or whether you venture out into entrepreneurship. A con is that it is a male dominated industry, so as a woman I had to work a lot harder to prove myself as a professional.
How do you describe your overall cooking philosophy?
Use fresh, good quality ingredients and keep the cooking methods simple.
A baking hack you want everyone to know of?
Temperatures are key when it comes to successful baking. Except for a few pastry recipes that require cold butter, ingredients including eggs should always be room temperature.
One thing you could binge eat?
You’re the owner of ‘The Bake Studio Pantry’. What inspired you to start this venture?
I found that there was a gap in the market for good quality cake decorating ingredients and tools. There are some extremely talented bakers in Pakistan that often struggle to find their materials. We have started with some essentials and will be adding more items soon.
What is your specialty and most loved dish of yours by your family?
In Pakistani food, my children love my shrimp biryani, and in desserts it has to be my tiramisu.
What advice would you give those tapping into the culinary field?
Work hard! It’s a tough industry and there are no shortcuts. It’s long hours standing on your feet and dealing with a high pressure environment in a professional kitchen. But I loved every minute of it and it's worth it in the end. So pay your dues.
INTERVIEW: SAFA ADNAN
PHOTO: STU WILSON