By serving smaller sized portions for dessert, River Oaks Country Club’s Executive Pastry Chef Darrin Aoyama knows all about the savings.
In 2005, Darrin Aoyama was named National Pastry Chef of the Year by the American Culinary Federation. It’s just one of many awards the graduate of the Los Angeles Culinary Institute has garnered for his winning ways with butter, flour and sugar, including Gold and Silver Medals from the Culinary Olympics held in Germany. He’ll travel to the competition with the team this year as coach and advisor.
Aoyama has had a varied career that includes teaching, developing a pastry program for a new casino at the Hollywood Park Racetrack, and serving as GM/Executive Chef of a wholesale bakery operation. He came to Houston’s River Oaks Country Club in 2000 as Executive Pastry Chef. This is his first time in a private club setting, and he’s enthusiastic about the unique opportunity it provides.
“We cater to a select customer base that doesn’t change,” he explains. “I know my clientele and they know me and what I can do. A rapport has developed between us over time.” The result, he continues, is a wonderful creative freedom.
“My reward is when a member planning a function says to me, ‘Darrin, make whatever you want for the desserts. We trust you.’ ”
About a year ago, Aoyama started reducing the standard five-ounce dessert portions by about 20 percent, miniaturizing classics such as banana pudding, fruit crisps and mousses. He invested in shot and pony glasses, small-size chinaware, and even Chinese soup spoons, which he likes to fill with one-bite frozen treats. Aoyama favors trios and one of his most popular is an all-American combo: diminutive servings of strawberry shortcake, lemon meringue pie, and a hot fudge sundae. “I meet constantly with the banquet staff and we work as a team,” he reports. “We’ve learned the likes and dislikes of our 1,500 members and tailor our creations to their tastes. That’s what it’s all about.”
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