Restaurants / Bars

Workshop Bakery in the New Le Petit Souffle Is a Showcase of Miko Aspiras’ Best Work

January 18, 2017

Miko Aspiras no longer needs any introduction. Over the past few years, Aspiras has accomplished so much in the field of pastry, including representing the Philippines in last year’s Madrid Fusion in Spain. This exposure has made him and his constant collaborator Kristine Lotilla, the unofficial faces of the culinary genre in the Philippines. When 2016 became the year of excess in desserts, the duo took trends and fine-tuned them in places like their ice cream parlor Freezer Burn. Over-exposed salted egg was given new life, for example, turned into a smooth ice cream and paired with traditional hot, fresh bibingka.

Workshop Bespoke Bakery is tucked inside Le Petit Souffle’s new SM Mega Fashion Hall branch.

It’s about time then, that Aspiras share his previously Instagram-only works to the public who now have the chef on their radar. Enter Workshop, a tiny but full-fledged patisserie built into the corner of Le Petit Souffle’s new Mega Fashion Hall branch, which is basically a showcase for the guy’s singular talent. Pulling off a truly legit bakery in the heat of Manila seems impossible, but if anyone was kooky (and skilled) enough to take a real crack at it, it would be Aspiras.

Workshop is inspired by Aspiras’ ever-growing fascination with the restaurant scene in Australia in both look and purpose. On his recent trips down under, he found an appreciation for standalone pastry shops like Koi or Lune Croissanterie, that cater to crowds from day until night, showing that croissants and danishes went much further than breakfast. The common theme was that these places managed to be inventive and playful, but never too whimsical, making them much more approachable to the public.

Workshop creates an almost pitch-perfect canelé (PHP 85 per piece), with a crisp, caramelized exterior and gummy, custardy center.

Those lessons from Australian patisseries are very visible here at Workshop. While many offerings use traditional pastries like canelés and croissants as a frame, Aspiras and Lotilla push the boundaries of flavor in a way that is only expected of them. French canelés are already hard to execute, but they are taken even further here by infusing green, grassy matcha into the center. Croissants are buttery and flaky, but filled with on-trend creams like ube, a guaranteed hit with the younger food fad-obsessed crowd. Fruit tarts are given Filipino flavors, with a guyabano one that was memorable for its marriage of the fruit with a slightly tart yoghurt.

Some of Workshop’s offerings have visible Asian influences, like this taro pudding drink (PHP 185) chock full of luxuriously silky pudding and chia seeds.

Even Aspiras’ signature cakes are now accessible to the crowd, visual stunners that are also a joy to eat. The Salted White Nutella cake and its cousin, The White Nutella Forest, are impressive,  steeping roasted hazelnuts to create white chocolate ‘nutella’, folding them in layers to create pretty genius entremets.

It is hard to capture the breadth of what this team can truly do. A quick look at their social media outlets document experiments that are totally unorthodox–Aspiras infamously created a dessert inspired by sweat and rust for his showcase at last year’s Madrid Fusion, for example. Workshop may be small, but it manages to take the team’s vision and filter it into seriously edible pieces of art that don’t need translation.

Aspiras usually displays his made-to-order cakes on his Instagram, but the creations are now readily available per slice at Workshop. (Coconut cream cake, PHP 900 for whole.)

Pamela Cortez Pamela Cortez

Pamela Cortez writes about food full-time, and has honed her craft while writing for publications such as Rogue, Town and Country, and The Philippine Star. She once rode on a mule for a mile just to eat mint tea and lamb in Morocco, and has eaten a block of Quickmelt in one sitting. Her attempt at food photography can be viewed online @meyarrr.

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