CHEF ANGELA BORAH
Originally from South Korea, Angela Borah grew up in Spain, Ghana, and Peru before calling New York City her home. French technique-driven, Andela is inspired by the flavors of NYC. She garnered experience in the pastry field at the notable Del Posto restaurant, three-Michelin-starred Per Se as well as New York boutique MarieBelle Chocolate. Her trajectory led her to two Michelin-starred The Modern, whereas Pastry Sous Chef, she managed the acclaimed pastry program under the guidance of Chef Marc Aumont. In 2014, Angela was awarded first place in the Plated Dessert category at the Pastry Live competition in Atlanta. In 2016, she was in the opening team of two-Michelin-starred Chef Gabriel Kreuther’s atelier, Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolate. As Head Chocolatier, she oversees the chocolate program where more recently, Angela won silver medals for two signature chocolates from the chocolate shop in the 2018 and 2019 International Chocolate Awards World Final.
Angela draws inspiration from her Korean background. She finds inspiration from her Korean childhood and the ingredients that she grew up with. Angela’s work has been featured in the New York Times, New York Post, Forbes, Time Out New York, and New York Magazine. Angela was selected as the 2020 fellow at the 92nd Street Y Women in Power leadership program.
What inspired you to enter the world of pastry?
I was very attracted in the food industry by the way food made people feel—the moment a loved one tried your creations, their worries and stresses would melt away. You had the power to bring them immediate happiness and gratification. That’s when I realized, food is a form of therapy. Initially, I studied savory instead of pastry. But, unfortunately and in retrospect—fortunately--nothing about savory cooking made sense to me. It was only during our last module in pastry, it clicked. I loved every aspect—the organization, discipline, precision. Also, when you cook a piece of meat, you cannot fully transform it. It’s still a piece of meat. But for pastry, I loved the idea that you can use raw ingredients like sugar, butter, chocolate, to create a beautiful product so unrecognizable from the original form.
Where do you find inspiration for your creations?
I find inspiration everywhere. Living in NYC, you are exposed to so many unexpected food cultures and traditions. We have created a pumpkin sesame praline and mole ganache in homage to Jackson Heights in Queens. I also draw inspiration from my Korean background. Even though my training and technique is French, I try to find inspiration from my Korean childhood and other Asian cultures into chocolate creation.
Who in your life has been the biggest mentor/inspiration in your career?
My biggest mentor is Chef Marc Aumont. Before I enrolled in culinary school and went into this industry, I had an amazing birthday meal at The Modern. The last course was this amazing chocolate tart—Chocolate sable with 66% Caraibe crème brulee, layered with 70% Guanaja ganache. I secretly wished to myself, “it would be a dream of mine if I learned to make this.” Fast forward a few years later and culinary school, I got a job at The Modern, became Chef Marc’s sous chef. We parted ways later, I went on to other ventures. Then, I joined him again to open the chocolate shop together.
How is your team responding to the new realities of the world during and eventually post-COVID-19?
When COVID-19 happened in March 2020, we had the option to shut down or remain open. We made the decision to remain open. I’m glad we did--because it provided tremendous comfort to people during quarantine through the power of chocolate. People sent each other chocolate as gifts, as ways to engage with each other when we couldn’t physically be there for holidays, birthdays, and major milestones. Post-COVID, we remain open and we are expanding to a new facility.
What Social Responsibility/Community initiative are you the proudest of taking part in?
When COVID-19 struck, we thought about ways to contribute as a business. We are proud to say that we made several donations to essential workers in hospitals in NYC and Puerto Rico. They were very happy to sweeten their day through chocolate.
What are your hopes for the future of the world of food and pastry?
The pandemic was a catalyst for professionals to leave the industry for other opportunities. However, I do believe this is temporary and we will recover. As the world starts to open up, I’m hopeful for a new generation of professionals that are interested in the world of food and pastry for the same reasons I joined the field 15 years ago.
What should the role of the food/pastry industry be in the community? The world? The environment?
As professionals, we have the duty to inform ourselves to use products that believe in fair and sustainable practices. In doing so, we can enlighten our consumers and the public through our creations. In our industry, we also have the responsibility to train and mentor the next generation of professionals to keep doing what we believe in.
What is your earliest dessert memory?
I remember eating songpyeon, a Korean half-moon shaped rice cake filled with sweetened sesame filling during Korean Thanksgiving. Even though I haven’t recreated this dessert into chocolate form, I’m partial to sesame seeds and I use it a lot.
If you could pass one bit of insight down to a chef just getting their start, what would it be?
This is a long and winding road, often grueling, but be patient. Play the long game. Seek out mentors who will bring you skill. Don’t chase after money early on. Focus on learning and building skill. The rest will follow. There are so many intangible rewards in our industry. We are in the business to bring happiness to people, and that is very rewarding.
What is your favorite perk of the Cercle V program?
I’m very excited by new products and samples we receive through the Cercle V program. I remember joining the Norohy vanilla/Amatika zoom presentation during COVID as a highlight.
When & how did you hear about Valrhona for the first time? / When & how did your “relationship” with Valrhona start?
I’ve been using Valrhona chocolates since the beginning of my career in 2008. I was lucky enough to work with Chefs that wanted to use reliable, high quality chocolate, produced with fair and sustainable practices.
Celsius or Fahrenheit?
Favorite Valrhona Chocolate?
Dim Sum Palace
Favorite flavor pairing with chocolate?
Chips and nuts
Coffee or Tea?
Coffee to wake up, tea to sleep
Favorite kitchen tool?
Who do you follow on social media?
Favorite type of dessert to make? To eat?
To make, chocolate! To eat, ice cream, gelato, sorbet, sherbet.