Denmark is well known for its dairy products, ‘Smørrebrød’ (open sandwich with toppings), and bread and pastries such as, in particular the ‘Danish’ (a Viennese bread usually topped with chocolate), served on hotel breakfast buffets worldwide.
So, not surprisingly the Danish is the second most popular pastry, after the croissant, among the breakfast choices at Outrigger Laguna Phuket Beach Resort, where the Danish pastry chef Anders Olesen is in charge of the resort’s bakery.
Anders lets us know that he is surprised about the unbelievable quantities of bread the guests on this resort consume for breakfast. And the explanation to that he believes is this holiday property enjoying a much larger percentage of western guest clientele, compared to other hotels he has previously worked in.
So there is a lot of bread-baking to do in the mornings in Laguna Phuket for Anders and his team of bakers, especially as they bake the bread and pastries also for the sister property Outrigger Laguna Phuket Resort and Villas, also within the integrated resort area.
Good then that Denmark is very strong in its bread culture, and where sourdough is his specialty among dough-based favourites – where he follows traditional artisan techniques.
Anders, who had gained three years’ of five-star hotel experience in Asia before this move to Outrigger on Phuket, learned his profession at Tønder baking school. This education takes four years as every student has to take an apprenticeship, mixed with attending school for 40 weeks.
It was clear for Anders from an early age the he wanted to become a baker.
“I started in a bakery when I was 14 years old, working next to the school during weekends helping out in the bakery shop,” he recalls over coffee at the Peranakan-inspired The Club (an exclusive lounge for clubroom guests built overlooking a seaside lagoon beside the resort.
A chef can choose between two alternatives; cooking food or baking the bread/pasries, and both alternatives have a side effect: the working hours (either starting very early in the morning or working late into the night.)
For Anders the choice was clear and what actually also made him choose baking: ‘I’m a morning person. A normal chef will work at night time and bakery chefs always work in the morning. That’s actually the reason. I don’t like to work to eleven, twelve o’clock in the night.”
Then, the Dane has also lived outside Denmark for the past fourteen years of which he has spent the past five in Asia. He came over here for opportunities due to one particular reason: the weather.
“Back in Denmark it’s not that good.”
Before Asia, he had worked in small bakery shops in Denmark, as well as in Norway where he lived for seven years.
Then paradise awaited him in the form of the Maldives. This also prompts the question if being a pastry chef is a good career path to choose if one wants to see the world.
“I think the demand for pastry chefs internationally is quite high, so it’s not too hard to find a new job if you’re good at it.”
Travelling around to different hotel assignments and countries is very much possible as a contract is usually two years at one place.
Anders was previously employed by another hotel in Pattaya but now has an open contract with Outrigger on Phuket and plans to stay on.
He prefers his new employer and being on the island, which he finds relaxing.
“It’s the best job I’ve had in Asia so far; they take very good care of their staff. And I feel here it’s easy for me to get new equipment etc. for our bakery kitchen. There is more support from the owner, in comparison.”
Home made chocolate is another specialty of Anders, and such temptations are more exclusive at Outrigger Laguna Phuket Beach Resort, served at The Club.
Yes we have chocolate fondue as part of the buffet desserts, but not home made pralines etc. This is time-consuming to make so it is not feasible to have on the buffets.
The 255-key absolute beachfront holiday resort offers four dining outlets, plus the Club lounge, that all require bread and pastries of different kinds; for instance bread for hot dogs that are served poolside is part of what Anders and his bakery chef team needs to produce.
He says that they have a bread schedule and alternate between different kinds of loaves and rolls daily; from German and Scandinavian to French and Italian bread.
European nationalities, including Scandinavians, are also part of the guest mix, in particular during high season.
“Yes, we have guests from Denmark, Norway and Sweden It’s a good mix from all over Europe actually.”
Peak season is here and Anders and his team are very busy. When visiting the Outrigger Laguna Phuket Beach Resort you stand a good chance of seeing Anders bringing out the freshly baked bread to the buffet spreads in the various restaurants. Then you will know that this guy is a Dane.