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Q&A with Head Patissier of WA Cafe, Atsuko Otsuki

Q&A with Head Patissier of WA Cafe, Atsuko Otsuki

wa-cafe-chef-Atsuko-Otsuki

WA cafe is a modern patisserie which specialises in quintessentially Japanese cakes, pastries, and breads with respect to French tradition and techniques. In their Ealing and Covent Garden cafes, they serve a colourful array of cakes inspired by the seasons which sit alongside freshly baked breads.

The minimalistic cafe serves a variety of premium Japanese teas such as Matcha green tea and Hojicha and quality coffee in beautiful crockery to complement these distinctly Japanese creations.

Led by head patissier Atsuko Otsuki, WA Cafe takes pride in creating sweet delicacies with the utmost precision and finesse that Japanese cuisine is best known for. Their cakes are incredibly light and mildly sweet to highlight the delicate flavour of each ingredient.

1) Where did the idea for WA Cafe come from?

The initial idea started when the owners were inspired by the tantalising array of cakes in the show window in Japan. They dreamt of establishing their own beautiful patisserie in the heart of London.

Around this time, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to meet them. It wasn’t too long before they invited me on board and join forces developing the concept of WA Café – an oasis of calm and tranquillity at its centre, authentic and contemporary Japanese patisserie and the warm welcome of Oriental hospitality.

2) What does your typical day look like?

I usually support production efforts as well as contributing towards research and design and also attend to any requests the manager may have. In addition to this, I spend time perfecting samples for new items and take an active part in the photographic promotion.

3) What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive?

I try to make a habit of researching patisserie through books, and online platforms daily. Over the years, I always try to find time to visit Paris, the spiritual home of patisserie, which is always a great inspiration for my creativity and a great day out.

4) What advice would you give your younger self?

Try to relax and don’t be anxious. You’ll find your place in life. As regards patisserie, remember, it’s like an art, there is no end and there are no rules. Be creative and express your individuality within your patisserie.

5) What is the one thing you do over and over again and recommend everyone else do?

On a professional level, I practise various patisserie techniques (e.g. piping, decorating, baking). Of course, technique is essential for becoming a pâtissier and practice makes perfect!

I also think it’s very important to have a good understanding of ingredients and how they complement each other. I would recommend anyone interested in patisserie to keep studying and to look and try as many other patisseries as possible.

6) What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

If you could call ‘attention to detail’ a strategy, then this would be it. We strive to maintain the highest possible standards from a choice of quality and authentic Japanese ingredients, to the use of all-natural products and our policy to exclude the use of food additives.

We also show great interest and pride in the development of our chefs’ skill sets and so seek to encourage them in the advancement of their training. This ensures that what arrives in the display cabinet and on the customers, each plate is always distinctively exquisite and pleasing both to the eye and the palate.

7) What’s one trend in the F&B industry that excites you?

There is a trend for young and dynamic individuals entering the industry at the moment. I find this really exciting and it’s great to see so many new and different faces coming into the industry.

8) What is the best £20 you recently spent? What and why?

Because of the lockdown, unfortunately I have had to reduce my spending lately! I am sorry I can’t think of anything!

9) What is your favourite quote?

Tomorrow is another day, onwards and upwards!

10) What are some of your favourite places to eat at?

Cake and Bubbles, E5 & All espresso bar

11) What’s the best thing to order from WA Cafe?

I would always recommend seasonal flavours such as Sakura (cherry blossom) for Spring, Mango for Summer, Pumpkin and Sweet potato for Autumn and Christmas and Valentine’s specials for winter.

If you don’t know what to choose, Strawberry Shortcake is one of the best sellers in our regular menu. It is the most popular and loved cake in Japan. When we opened 5 years ago, I was determined to offer the same or even better-quality Strawberry shortcake as the ones in Japan to be true to our name. It took me several studies and tries to succeed in perfecting the recipe.

Extremely fluffy and delicate sponge is matched with lightly textured whipped cream. Fresh strawberries and strawberry puree inside complete the perfectly balanced flavour and texture and make the cake look beautiful.

If you would like to take a more adventurous option and try Japanese flavours, go for Matcha roll cake and Matcha tiramisu. We use the finest quality Matcha powder from Kyoto Japan, it is slightly bitter but makes a great combination with the sweetness. Another Japanese flavour is White sesame cheesecake. It is a full-flavoured and unbaked white sesame cheesecake with a black sesame biscuit base. This is unique to us and you won’t see it anywhere else.

12) Are there any exciting plans coming from WA Cafe soon?

I’m really excited about introducing the next new patisserie to WA’s menu next month, an Earl Gray & Apple roll. All our rolled cakes including matcha and strawberry rolled cakes are made of Japanese rice flour and it is gluten-free. You would be surprised how light and delicious they are!

Another exciting thing is… we can’t say when and what it is but you might encounter chef’s specials if you are lucky! It’ll be something unique, delicious and beautiful, made by me! Check it out on our social media.

I would love a lot of people to come and try our patisseries. It’ll be our pleasure to bring you happiness and smiles through our patisseries and hospitality.

WA Cafe
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