I have grown up in a household where tea was at the center of most interactions. Whether it was deep, stirring and animated conversations or ones that were simple in their exchange, they were usually over a cup of tea. Whether it was in moments of celebration or moments providing comfort, tea was always involved. Such was the importance of a beverage in our household and culture, that I did not understand at the time but have now come to greatly appreciate and love.
I realized much later that a good part of the teachings that I imbibed came from thoughts and ideas being imparted over a cup of tea – a beverage whose benefits, I now know are immense and incredible.
I also have a deep appreciation for an old-world bakery in a modern setting. During childhood, whilst on summer holidays, we would walk to our neighborhood bakery to get a loaf of fresh bread. The aromas, taste and the overall experience never left me. The fact that the baker referred to us by name, knew our preferred breads or would hand out a taste of something fresh provided such a humble yet wholesome experience. So much so, that whenever we are traveling as a family, I make it a practice to walk with the kids in the morning to a neighborhood bakery.
Having worked for and consulted with several Fortune 50 companies in the technology and financial industries, I am now committed to one belief – that life’s simple pleasures come from sharing and serving. I cannot think of a better way than doing that through tea & bread.
Please do not hesitate to ask for me on your next visit to Pekoe.
I hope to see you, hear from you and learn from you.
My favorite tea at Pekoe: Premium Sencha
My favorite bakery item: Plain Croissant
“Manish Bhargava is a Tea Sommelier, Tea Master Professional, Tea Specialist and Tea Champion from various tea academies around the world.”
My inspiration to bake comes from my family. Before moving to Dubai, I grew up in Shangrao, a small city in China. Life in our family always revolved around food. Being an excellent cook, my mom taught me the importance of flavors. She also taught me that there is immeasurable joy in seeing loved ones enjoy and relish the food we prepare and serve. But most importantly, what I learnt from her was that every single day can be a celebration if we believe it to be.
From an early age, I was obsessed with baking and knew that I wanted to be a pastry chef. Instead of pursuing a degree in Finance, I decided to enter culinary school. It was a move that people questioned at the time. But I had the full support of my parents.
After graduating from culinary school, I worked my way up from being a Trainee to Senior Pastry Chef and then Head Pastry Chef at restaurants and bakeries in Dubai. Recently, I was asked to develop the dessert menu at a Japanese restaurant, which has been one of my most memorable experiences.
My philosophy in baking is – simplicity and respect for good ingredients. My core belief has been to first build a solid foundation by learning the process and art of baking. This provides a platform to refine one’s and gives the confidence to experiment, without worrying about making mistakes.
I love speaking to customers, my peers and my seniors about the craft. I tell people new to the industry, that you must be ready to take on this challenge, as there will be many long and hard days. But if you are passionate about your craft and dedicated to learning, then you will know that every day will be better than the one before.
At Pekoe I look forward to creating and executing a menu that leverages my roots, builds on my core beliefs of simplicity and great ingredients and pushes me to take my craft to a higher level of expertise.
Besides, it’s comforting to know that the passion I have for baking will be married with a beverage that my birth city and province are renowned for, for centuries.
I hope to meet you on your next visit to Pekoe.
My favorite tea at Pekoe: Lapsang Souchong Cold Brew tea
My favorite bakery item: Olive Oil Durum Loaf
I have been passionate about trying new foods and beverages from a very young age for not just the experience but also the exposure to different cultures of the world.
After graduating from University, I worked at some of the world’s major hotel chains such as Shangri-La, Raffles and Fairmont in Manila. I moved from the experience in the kitchen to managing F&B outlets – first in Manila and then at the Fairmont in Dubai. Besides numerous other things, it taught me the importance of placing absolute attention to details.
While at Fairmont, one of my duties was to learn about teas and incorporate them in the F&B outlets. This included working with vendors to taste, select and negotiate on their tea offerings to the hotel. The education that this experience imparted has been very beneficial.
Growing up, whenever I would feel sick or be down, my mom would comfort me by preparing a warm beverage with leaves literally from her own garden. I learnt from this early experience and have always tried to increase my knowledge of teas, herbs and mixology by researching on my own and working with Tea Sommeliers. To take my experience further I traveled to Sri Lanka and visited tea farms. The simplicity of the art of tea combined with the care in which the leaves and process is handled, solidified my belief that I want to continue furthering my education and experience of tea.
I joined Pekoe because I firmly believe that specialty tea and its benefits are not widely known in this region. My goal is to work with the Pekoe team to provide high quality single origin specialty teas in this region. Through the process, I hope to become a tea expert and strengthen my knowledge of tea farming while contributing to the sustainability aspects of tea.
The opportunity to have more people enjoy and benefit from this humble beverage is such a rewarding experience.
Please come say Hello on your next visit to Pekoe.
My favorite tea at Pekoe: Dan Cong, Oolong
My favorite bakery item: Spelt Zucchini Cheese Loaf