“And is this Park Avenue in New York?” I ask.
“No, Park Avenue in Pasay,” Buddy says with such a straight face, so used to ignoramuses like myself who don’t even know that such a street exists in Manila. It’s on that Park Avenue where Buddy grew up and learned how to bake by watching his mom, an accomplished baker herself.
Yes, that’s really Buddy in that photo, face drenched in ganache.
After living and working in the States as a pastry chef at some top restaurants, Buddy’s come home and put up his own shop, Park Avenue Desserts, a paean to the place he grew up in. It looks just like the “neighborhood pastry shop” he describes it as. The seats are upholstered in striped ruby and green with touches of whimsy and retro: wrought iron-backed chairs, black and white tiled flooring, and truly charming ceramic tableware that include fanciful cake servers, water jugs, and teapots.
Buddy’s Mango Crunch
But once I look at the cake display case, the “neighborhood pastry shop” theme transforms into desserts I’d expect to find along Park Avenue, this time the one in New York. As a multi-awarded pastry chef, Buddy’s creations exemplify virtuoso skill. I’m astounded at the intricacy and shimmer of the perforated cake band wrapped around his Chocolate Caramel Celebration (see cover photo) or the carefully-formed garnishes of chocolate and tuxedoed berries on his Strawberry Bagatelle. On the day I visit, he’s just finished a cake for a customer. Called the Gift Box, it’s exactly that “wrapped” with a multi-layered striped ribbon molded out of chocolate. Outstanding.
Though these deftly-executed desserts are a form of expression at which Buddy is most fluent, he also offers more straightforward sweets. The Banana Cream Pie is a pattern of a perfectly-crimped crust running round the rim of the pie plate, its top a river of cream ripped with chocolate and running with caramel. Inside, its heart is a bounty of bananas. The Lemon Meringue Pie – “Because I love tart desserts,” says Buddy, “it hits [you] in the back right here,” – is loved by those who lust for lemon. And the star of what some might call the simpler desserts, is the Apple Pie. Unfussy and unassuming with its crumble crust, Buddy uses the same recipe his mom did. “It’s one of those desserts that if it was the only food on the planet, I’d be okay,” he avers. “It just takes me home. That’s all I need.”
At the Dessert Comes First Christmas Gift List, Buddy will be serving his Molten Brownie Bites, brownies but better and with a molten middle. Then there are his Assorted Macarons that exclaim loudly when bitten into then soften when their tender center is reached. Buddy will also be selling his “Buddy’s Dozen,” a dozen cakes some of which I describe here, Buddy’s imaginative interpretation of the 12 Days of Christmas. A countdown in cake – how exciting is that!
Park Avenue Desserts
#7 G/F Maga Center
Paseo de Magallanes Commercial Center, Makati
(02) 852 6141
Open Mondays-Saturdays 9am-10pm; Sun: 10am-9pm