There are pastry chefs and there are those born to be masters of their craft. One of the latter is award-winning chef Miko Aspiras.
In his own words, he started from the bottom and worked his way up. His first tasks included refilling milk jugs and cream containers of the production chillers of hotels, before he was even given the chance to make cookie dough and cheesecake batter.
There was, however, something different about him that his mentors and colleagues took notice of, something intangible and special.
“I love pastries and they love me back,” Miko said.
He said that it is his penchant for eating desserts that moved him to begin creating them.
Miko is one of the few gifted ones who puts things together and voila, a majestic, edible masterpiece appears before your very eyes.
He likes to stay inspired, and he does this by keeping an inspiration board on his computer. He also draws.
“I can get inspired by the most random things, like something I ate or even the Manila traffic situation.”
He notes down everything that stimulates him. Documentation is important in his creative process, as he is really forgetful.
Miko attributes his longevity and continued success to dedication, passion and love.
Indeed, love conquers all. In the case of Miko, he confessed that he wouldn’t have survived the cutthroat industry if it weren’t for his husband, JV San Juan, who, said Miko “allowed me to be me.”
“JV gave me all the room that I needed in order to grow. We’ve been together since the beginning of my career and he’s been constantly encouraging.”
His grandmother, Mila Llamanzares, was the wind beneath Miko’s wings. She was the unwavering force that prodded him and believed in him, certain that her beloved apo would one day make a big difference in the industry. Indeed, that day has come.
Miko has done us proud not just locally, but internationally!
Miko has not only made his mark through his interpretation of classic pastries, but by being the genius behind many native favorites.
Just recently, he collaborated with chef Chele Gonzalez for a homecoming event. At the much coveted and sold-out four-hands dinner, Miko showcased his talent with creations inspired by the very Pinoy banana-Q with langka—mousse with banana financier and mille-feuille.
He highlighted local ingredients and products by using them in classics like the Black Forest with Auro Dark Chocolate Mousse, with cherries and dark chocolate.
He also made delicate petit fours such as the Calamansi Cake with Auro White Chocolate Glaze, Vegemite Butterscotch with Auro Milk Chocolate Ganache and Auro Dark Chocolate Shell Pralines, Sable Cookie, Sable Breton, Coconut Marshmallow and Dumaguete passion fruit pastille.
Known to set trends, Miko predicted that Filipino techniques—like steaming cakes, and the way we fry our banana fritters by adding sugar and other uniquely Filipino ways of making desserts—will be big and will be applied to not just local pastries, but also combined with international recipes.
Halo-halo will continue to explode with new flavors. He said the coming combinations are endless.
He is confident that Filipino desserts, ingredients and techniques are ripe for the picking.
Miko urges Filipino chefs to be bold and brave and to create, and for the Filipino consumers to consume.
“We have to continue what has already been established this past few years and pursue championing our very own cuisine, wherever in the world we may be.”
My dearest Miko, from one Aspiras to another, know that you do us very proud! Keep soaring! Expect to see, hear and savor more of his pastries, in the months to come.
The chef shared the recipe of the main component of his plated halo-halo dessert, the Ube Flan.
1,300 ml cream
1,350 ml water
350 g ube whole pieces fresh (peeled)
430 g egg yolks
360 g caster sugar
48 g gelatin sheets
2 g ube extract
Bloom gelatin for eight to 10 minutes, remove excess water. Boil the whole ube with the water until ube is tender, add cream, blend together until smooth, continue to cook then simmer for 10 minutes.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together. Temper the egg mixture with the hot ube mixture by whisking in 300 ml of the ube mix onto the egg yolk. Mix to warm the mixture. Put the egg yolk, mix together with the rest of the ube mixture, and whisk altogether for a nice, smooth mix. Turn off heat.
Add in gelatin. Fold in ube extract, stir until well mixed.
Pour in a Gastronorm pan lined with plastic. Set inside the chiller. Allow to set overnight. Cut to your desired shape and size.
Recipe makes one full Gastronorm-size food pan.
www.reggieaspiras.com; @iamreggieaspiras on Instagram and Facebook.