Stationed at the restaurant’s marbled Oyster Bar, Chef Kenta Takahashi quietly focuses and prepares himself for the evening ahead. Accompanied by his sous chef, Evelyn Tsai, the two diligently go through each dish’s component, its placement, and the timing for the event’s specially created dessert menu.
An award-winning pastry chef in his home country of Japan, Kenta Takahashi worked in several restaurants in Tokyo and Kanagawa, before coming to Vancouver to hone his craft under renowned pâtissier and chocolatier Thierry Busset. Combining his classically trained chef skills with the discerning eye of a true artist, he oversees the tantalizing dessert menu available at Boulevard. Not only does he bring the requisite traditional French panache to the line, but his Japanese heritage lends a modern and sophisticated influence to each exquisite dessert made. Kenta ensures that guests are treated to delicious varieties of their in-house prepared flaky pastries and fresh-baked bread each day.
In recognition of his exceptional creativity and passion, Chef Kenta once again obtained the well-deserved title of ‘Best Pastry Chef’ in Canada for 2023. Having previously won this accolade in 2020, what was the difference for the Executive Pastry Chef this time around? “I completely changed how I operate – instead of a singular focus on my creations, I concentrated on training my team” Kenta advises, “It’s a different way to achieve the same award, but requires more team effort. I needed to work alongside them and help them understand the importance of quality rather than only creating unique desserts.”
He also credits Executive Chef Alex Chen’s ability to infuse both plate and palate with an elegant yet understated flair as a constant source of culinary inspiration. “Alex is extremely talented and passionate” shares Kenta, “Each dish he creates has a big impact but is also very delicate in terms of presentation and taste”. He finishes by saying “Some people might say that this is boring, especially for a restaurant dessert. However, I have now been awarded twice by the biggest culinary judge in Canada. That has given me a little bit more confidence to continue along this path.”
With his 16 guests comfortably seated in the restaurant’s private dining room, Chef Kenta welcomes them and begins to describe the goal of the evening. More common in Japan, he wanted to use his knowledge to create a unique culinary experience that highlights the natural flavours of his desserts. With his incredible sugar art creations dotted around the room, he explains the inspirational source for his masterpieces and dishes. “Sometimes it comes from history, the background culture of the dish, or its ingredients. Sometimes it comes as a result of the environment around me” Kenta explains. “Then I think of what it is we want from a dessert, what we want to taste and how can I bring that to life.”
In 2024, Chef Kenta will continue to host his dessert-tasting menu event, exclusive to Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar. Aptly named ‘A Symphony in 5 Courses’, it has been designed to deliver a balance and variation of sweet, sour, and savory elements ensuring guests leave feeling invigorated. During each sitting, Chef Kenta will explore the colors, harvest, inspirations, and emotions of the season – presenting a different menu and showcasing the expression, artistry, and technique of one of Canada’s true culinary artists.