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A special Just a Bite with Lo Hoang
I’m emailing you from Los Angeles, which also happens to be the home base of this week’s Just A Bite interviewee: Lo Hoang. We first met Lo in person at our Wicked Cake pop-up at Quarter Sheets last December, and love following their baking exploits as a pastry chef, consultant, and stylist from afar on Instagram. Lo’s background in sculpture yields stunning sweets like passionfruit butter mochi and intricate icing inspired by ramen noodles. Read more about their work below!—Aliza
You’re making dessert. What is it, and how do you make it?
Chocolate chip cookies always, and a well curated selection of farmers market fruit to to served chilled on ice. It’s an ode to sliced orange wedges after the end of a meal at my childhood home, and the fruit cart stands that are everywhere in LA.
I try to always have chocolate chip cookie dough on hand, fresh and ready to bake in the fridge and cookie dough balls in the freezer (in case of emergency). If I have anything interesting laying around like a nice bar of chocolate, cocoa pebbles, cornflakes or any other interesting textural additions I’ll roll or top the dough with it before I bake them. I take moments like these to play around with the recipe and see what combinations work better than others. Always take notes!
Someone is making you a dessert. What do you ask for?
Ice cream sundaes. I love frozen desserts and would rather be eating them than making them. My friend Crystal Gonzalez threw a bbq with an ice cream sundae buffet (homemade sauces and toppings) and it was soooooo fun and yummy. She made a tahini caramel that I still think about to this day. Homemade sundaes are the perfect end to an intimate meal.
You’ve transformed into a pastry. What are you and how are you consumed?
I have turned into a corn patê sô, with peppers, cumin and a bunch of other tasty things. The pastry is nice and flakey like a patê sô, but the filling is something similar to an elote with a few more veggies added into it. Savory pastries forever. In this imagining, I’m being consumed straight from a heat lamp display in a Vietnamese American bakery (preferably mine) or room temp on a counter at home.
What’s a dessert scene in a work of art that you’ll never forget?
The ice cream scene in Wong Kar Wai’s Fallen Angels. Hot Asian boys crowded in an ice cream truck eating soft serve?! Family gets involved and just shows up? Candles on ice cream? No notes, perfect scene.
What’s a baking hack you can’t live without?
My biggest hack is mixing high and low end ingredients, and knowing when and where to use the nice ones. For example, I bought bulk brown sugar and it is too light for my liking, so I’m now enhancing it by mixing in dark muscovado sugar a few pounds at a time. It makes my chocolate chip cookies extra special.
Walk us through your thought process when developing a pastry?
When I’m trying to develop a pastry, I go through my notebooks from previous pastry jobs and see if there is a base there. Then I will reference recipes from cookbooks (I flag recipes I’ve been wanting to try) and form a plan. I start by making the recipe as it’s written and intended and take notes—it usually takes 3 or 4 tries to get going in the right direction. I pay a lot of attention to each bake and truthfully, the work and tinkering is never over. Taste as you go.
Having friends and family to be taste testers is important; I make it a priority to feed them. It makes me really happy to feed people and see them enjoy my creations.
Follow Lo Hoang on Instagram: @Largwa