One technique that Chef Julien is particularly known for is his use of moulds to create exceptional, playful desserts that taste as incredible as they appear. Focusing on this technique in particular, Julien began the demo explaining how the moulds are made, and perhaps more importantly, the purpose of a particular mould. Moulds of loads of different things can be created, but the aim is to create a memorable experience for the customer, so it needs to suit the theme of the restaurant and the menu. For this demonstration, Julien used a fresh truffle to create a multiple silicon replicas which are then used to create many moulds, displaying how this process works in practice when upscaled to a restaurant environment.
With the moulds created, Julien began work on the filling for the mould, which consists of cremeux guanaja and caramel mousse. While this sets in a blast chiller, Julien sets to work on the crumble, chocolate sauce and coffee & miso ice cream. Adding this popular Japanese flavour compliments the coffee well, with the light coloured Saikyo miso adding sweetness to counter the coffee's bitterness. Julien makes this ice cream completely vegan, using high grade soy milk and dark chocolate as replacements for the traditional dairy milk that's more commonly used.
By using high quality ingredients, the Executive Pastry Chef's aim is to improve and make a better ice cream, rather than seeing it as sacrificing the more traditional ingredients; as a result, all ice creams in the restaurants are vegan. Constructing the dish, Julien pours a small bit of Japanese Whisky on the crumb to add another dimension to the flavour, before lastly adding some shavings of fresh truffle to really bring the theme of the dish together.
The whole of the Zuma groups dishes represent a very natural feel which is apparent throughout its restaurants, inspired by traditional Japanese styles and production methods; each of their plates and dishes are made in Japan specifically for the group. This plating perfectly suits the clever idea behind the dish, presenting what appears to be a fresh truffle in soil (crumb) akin to it's natural environment, but when the 'truffle' is cut into it is clearly closer to a chocolate truffle than a wild growing funghi. This imaginative dish is perfectly executed from inception to creation, to plating, and this wouldn't be possible without the use of the mould.
To close the evening, Chef Julien took further questions from the audience while they enjoyed their taster of the finished product. When asked of his menu conception and process, Julien revealed that a great deal of trial and error is required when making these time consuming dishes as there are many stages in which issues can develop. The concept of the end product also needs to be considered and Julien was quick to put emphasis on the overall aim and what exactly the moulded item brings to the dish.