Ashleigh was born and raised in the lush tropical North Queensland; in Cairns, Australia. Spends her days creating delightful delicacies and inspiring desserts as Head Pastry Chef at Pullman Cairns International. She has competed in several local and national competitions and represented Australia at the Food Hotel Asia with the culinary youth team. Who Ash would love to work with? "Let's be real! We would all love to work alongside Amaury Guichon."
Why did you decide to become a chef?
From a young age I always cooking and baking in the kitchen with the family. I started to gain a passion for cooking throughout my schooling years. I was offered an apprenticeship in a pastry kitchen at 16 and thats when my career began. Since then my passion continues to grow and every day is a new day to learn, create and grow as a pastry chef.
What was the most special event you have had the privilege of experiencing in your career?
One of my most treasured events I’ve been apart of was raising $70k for a breast cancer fundraiser degustation event.
What do you do to stay current on new trends? What do you think is the most interesting industry trend?
Keeping up with social media and networking with other like minded chefs; I’m currently loving the glazing trend, it’s not just about the shine but incorporating amazing flavours into the glaze as well.
Who inspires you most? And why?
Sebastian Pettersson is a great inspiration for me, he is such a brilliant talent and his creations are a true work of art.
What is your favorite ingredient at the moment?
My current favourite flavour to work with is lemon Myrtle; for those who may not know, it’s a local Australian plant. It’s leaves are packed with a beautiful sweet citrusy scent which is great for infusing.
Are there any sustainable or socially responsible projects that you or the restaurant are participating in?
We have participated in the reduction of single use plastics in the hotel; removing all plastic straws, cutlery etc.
What (signature) dish are you most proud of?
My first signature dish was a Poached Banana Mousse with a sugar cane juice centre, crystalised ginger crumble and Brulee banana which was sent out smoking. The inspiration behind this dish came from when I had moved south closer to the sugar cane fields. The start of the cane season had the mill in full steam and filled the air with a sweet smelling smoke. So I incorporated local flavours of banana and ginger with the sugar cane juice to make a light and fresh dessert that was sent out smoking like the fields.
Which chef would you like to invite to cook together sometime?
Let’s be real! We would all would love to work alongside Amaury Guichon. His chocolate work is on another level!
If you have the chance to turn back time, what would you have done differently with today's knowledge?
I wouldn’t turn back time; everything I’ve done in the past has been a lesson learnt and made me the chef I am today.
What advice would you like to give to all the boys and girls who want to start a career in the hospitality industry?
Be a sponge. Soak up and learn as much as you can from the chefs you are with; and have fun doing it!
Discover Ashleigh Otto:
Do you also want to be featured on ChefsAlert? Sign up here!