Filipino-Australian Pastry Chef Miko Aspiras Reinvents Donuts Through His Sydney Business


Imagine a donut made from a sourdough brioche dough stuffed with Basque cheesecake puree and topped with a burnt flambé.

This art is definitely not what you would expect from your neighborhood donut store. You might think that this is akin to the dessert menu of luxury hotels or participating in an international pastry competition. You may be right. After all, the creator of Basque burnt cheesecake-filled donuts is Miko Aspiras, the multi-award-winning international pastry chef behind the all-new Don’t Donuts in Sydney’s inner suburb of Darlinghurst.

For Miko Aspiras, becoming a pastry chef was a sweet accident. As a child, Miko helped her aunt bake cookies and cheesecakes for her catering business in Manila, the capital of the Philippines. This piqued his interest in baking and he set out to become a chef. He began studying hotel and restaurant management at De La Salle-College in Saint Benilde, an institute in the Philippines. There he applied to participate in a cooking competition but was rejected. So Aspiras asked himself, “What’s the next best thing?” and found a cheesecake contest.

Although not far in his studies, he qualified and reached the final. Aspiras recalls, “I just practiced this recipe over and over again. But during this time, I had no culinary or pastry training. However, I ended up winning this first competition in which I participated. Beating its junior and senior student competitors, its winning entry was a white chocolate and strawberry melted cheesecake.

“We found that sourdough brioche would make a wonderful donut base because it has a flavor of its own. And it balances out the frosting you dip in it.”

From that day, Aspiras has been recognized as the best pastry chef among the 175 students. Once graduated, he was hired to work in the pastry section of hotel kitchens. But Miko couldn’t shake his competitive nature. While working for a casino in the Philippines in 2010, he decided to join the first culinary competition called the Philippine Culinary Cup. After his shifts, the young pastry chef worked from midnight to 6 a.m.

Aspiras recalls: “For two months I would go to work, come home and then try to perfect my recipes until the next morning.” The young chef faced his professors, executives and sous chefs of prestigious hotels – and won. He then participated in international competitions in Hong Kong, Singapore, France and Korea. Out of the 16 competitions he participated in, he won first prize in 12.

In 2013, Aspiras was offered a proposal by Unilever to open the first Magnum Manila ice cream bar in the capital, followed by branches in Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore. Since then, Aspiras and its business partners have opened 17 restaurants in Manila.

The unpretentious pastry chef still can’t believe he was featured at the prestigious Madrid Fusion in 2015, alongside big names in the kitchen like Jordi Roca and Grant Achatz, was named ‘Forbes 30 under 30’ and presented in So good pastry review.

After moving to Australia in June 2019, Hilton Sydney quickly offered him the position of Executive Pastry Chef and he worked there for 16 months. However, due to the pandemic, the hotel had to fire the entire team.

But in June, Aspiras opened Don’t Donuts with its business partner, Michelin Dapo, the Filipino chef behind Filipino ice cream company Manila St.

For Miko Aspiras, becoming a pastry chef was a sweet accident. As a child, Miko helped her aunt bake cookies and cheesecakes for her catering business in Manila.

The pair set out to make the best donut. Aspiras says, “We found sourdough brioche to be a wonderful donut base because it has a flavor of its own. And it balances out the frosting you dip in it. It’s like a blank canvas, but it can stand on its own.

“Based on my experience in my training for pastry competitions, I am exposed to many different techniques and ingredients. I can say that it is easy for me to twist a classic without destroying the integrity of the classic or them. memories people have of this classic. But making sure it’s mine. “

People who love cinnamon sugar donuts should try its garam masala sugar. Who would have thought that this North Indian spice blend commonly used in soups, curries and stews would work well as a donut flavor?

One of its most interesting flavors is the coconut charcoal donut. The donut is filled with coconut compote, similar to the thick Filipino macapuno jam made from grated coconut and baked in sugar. On top is a charcoal and meringue cream. Filipinos typically eat macapuno in a halo-halo, a dessert with crushed ice, gelatin ube (purple yam), sweet beans and jackfruit, or accompanied by leche flan (crème caramel) or halayang ube ( a thick purple yam jam made from sugar and milk). Don’t Donuts also serves Purple Haze milkshakes and lattes, which are made from ube, the trendy purple yam popular in the Philippines.

Basque donuts filled with burnt cheesecake are winning many fans, but Don’t Donuts has other innovative flavors like Vegemite Butterscotch frosting, chocolate “fondon’t”, lemon and Tasmanian coconut. , macadamia caramel frosting, Iranian pistachio and strawberries and cream cheese. . Each week, expect a new limited flavor.

If that isn’t enough to keep this young chef busy, he accepts orders for Basque cheesecakes on weekends such as ube halaya and strawberry or a Basque matcha cheesecake with black sesame cream and raspberries.

Opening Don’t Donuts just before Sydney’s 2021 lockdown might not have been the best time, but with the talent, creativity and hard work of this award-winning Filipino pastry chef, nothing can stop him from churn treats using unexpected ingredients and techniques.

@dontdoughnuts offers take out and delivery in Sydney. @chefmikoaspiras accepts orders for Basque burnt cheesecake specials on weekends.

Do you like history? Follow author Maida Pineda here: Facebook @maidastouch, Instagram @themaidastouch.


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