Friday February 23rd, 2024
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A Lasting Effect: How Fôu by Farah Marries Architecture & Dessert

The complexity of building an orange blossom tart might just surpass that of the Eiffel tower.

Layla Raik

Why is it that desserts get better when they’re small?

When you sit down to think about it, it could be a million things. Perhaps it’s the fact that it’s over in a bite, perhaps it’s the ridiculous convenience of a quiche. In a conversation in the service room of the grand opening of Fôu by Farah El Charkawy, I was let in on a secret that might just be the reason: a little something called the ‘architecture of taste’.

Farah, the unresting mind behind Fôu, realised her fascination with taste and pastry could not be satisfied in her field of work, law, early on. Instead, she seeked out a culinary education in Egypt, then took her studies to the beating heart of pastry worldwide: Paris. After graduating the rigorous program of Alain Ducasse’s Pastry School, Farah roamed the streets of Paris, hopping from internship to the next, broadening and upgrading her palate to encompass an ever-growing gallery of intertwining flavours.

In other words, Farah’s strolls through Parisian architecture facilitated her familiarity with the architecture of taste, ultimately planting the first seeds of Fôu.

“Paris, to me, was a museum of good food, specifically dessert,” Charkawy tells Scene Eats. “I would just walk around, trying out different desserts at different patisseries. It didn’t feel like studying - it was heaven.”

Fôu - named after Farah’s nickname, is the realisation of the chef’s saccharine dream; one that’s been marinating in the back of her mind since the very beginning.

“The architecture of taste has become a very fun concept for me. It’s like I’m stacking layers atop one another to create a final masterpiece. For example, if I say, ‘OK, I want this dessert to have hazelnut’, I have to start thinking about what could succeed to break its sweetness, and so on. At the end, I have to tie the dessert together by paying special attention to the aftertaste; what distinct flavour do I want to be left with?”

While perusing the aisles of Fôu's opening event, elegantly adorned in the artisanal chef's delicate creations, I gained a deeper understanding of this culinary construction. Take, for instance, Farah's preferred dessert: the lemon basil olive oil tart, “using olive oil in desserts is not commonly explored, and yet it worked perfectly. The tart carries many hidden flavours that work together to create a unique, refreshing flavour profile.”

Even the simple (or so I thought) chocolate chip cookies carried… something more. In my conversation with Farah, she told me the delicate dessert holds a special place in her heart because it was one of the very first things she could make. Bite after bite into a superbly chewy cookie, it felt as though I had assimilated the very essence of Farah’s story, all in the simple homey-ness of a chocolate chip cookie. In essence, the creations of Fôu by Farah are eloquent - and sumptuous - storytellers.


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