Sat | Jan 18, 2020

NTD Ingredientes’ artful eatables magical

Published:Sunday | January 5, 2020 | 12:07 AMPaul H. Williams - Gleaner Writer
Pastry chefs at NTD Ingredientes Jamaica,Toni-Ann Lawson (left) and Auriel Swaby, are pleased to display their handiwork.
One hundred per cent fondant (brand-massa ticino) snowman.
Butter cream Christmas trees.
Chocolate mousse toadstools.
Chocolate peppermint truffles in peppermint bowls.
Anthony Cooke, general manager at NTD Ingredientes Jamaica, looms large over pastry chef Auriel Swaby's magical gingerbread house made of butter cream and compound chocolate.
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NTD Ingredientes is a company that sells products for the baking, pastry and food service industries. It began in 1991 in the Dominican Republic, was established in Mexico in 2002, and opened offices in Jamaica in 2015.

One of the company’s marketing strategies is to show clients and prospective clients how they can creatively and cost-effectively use the items they sell. So, from time to time, NTD holds in-house demonstrations, such as the one that took place recently in St Andrew. The turnout was smaller than expected, but what patrons saw was way above expectations.

The theme was Christmas, of course, and Christmas motifs were on display. Yet, except for two dummy cakes, as part of the decor, almost everything on the tables was edible. They really looked palatable; tantalising to the taste buds. And, yes, when it was time to binge, they were what patrons thought they would be – unbelievably delectable.

The cliché ‘sinfully delicious’, would not have done justice to the work of Auriel Swaby, an in-house pastry chef at NTD Ingredientes, and the others involved, for, besides the taste, the pieces were culinary architectural masterpieces, conceived by their creative minds and executed with their dexterous hands.

“This demonstration would not be possible had it not been for the wonderful and supportive team at NTD Ingredientes Jamaica, especially my right-hand chef, Toni-Ann Lawson,” Swaby told Outlook.

On show were actual cakes, mousses, petits fours (as is), cupcakes, truffles, brownies, etc., that were fashioned into toadstools, a Santa Claus, Christmas trees, stars, snowflakes, leaves, snowmen, snow, candy canes, penguins, tassels, peppermint bowls, Rubik’s cubes, etc.

The artistry was as striking as their appearance was mouth watering. They were a gastronomic tour de force, and the gingerbread house was the pièce de résistance. Even the ‘Merry Christmas’ emblazoned on the ‘snow-covered’, three-storey structure was edible.

The pieces were mostly made by Swaby, the aspiring lawyer, who did not use a ‘blueprint’ or moulds. She has not gone through any extensive formal training in pastry-making, but has given recognition to her parents, more so her father, for her “creative talents”. She shares the credit for the gingerbread house, which she made on her own, with them.

“He is so talented and can create every and anything. Growing up, I used to watch him make class projects for my sisters and me, such as paintings, handmade houses and aircraft, with deep enthusiasm, not knowing at the time that one day, I’ll be able to use my hands so magically just like he did … Truly, what the mind can conceive you can achieve,” Swaby said.

It is, indeed, magic that Swaby is creating at NTD and the wands are her hands. It was this magic that sparkled her to NTD. Her work at Hyatt Ziva and Zilara Hotel in Montego Bay grabbed the attention of chef Adonis Gomez from NTD Ingredientes Dominican Republic, who would come to Jamaica from time to time to conduct product demonstrations.

The company needed a local pastry chef and Swaby was recommended to Gomez’s “boss” in the Dominican Republic. Swaby turned down their offer of the job three times before acquiescing. Acceptance meant one month’s training in the Dominican Republic in 2015, and in January 2017.

And while Swaby is now spending her life titillating people’s palate with her winning pieces, she intends to go back to studying law, after which she might just be creating magic for her clients.