Photo: Armand Flores

With Chef Ely Rowen Salar
Head Pastry Chef for Delta Hotels by Marriott at Kananaskis Lodge


Ely Rowen

Great pastry doesn’t just happen. It a result of creativity, hardwork, dedication, and passion.

When you have a good cake, a delightful dessert, or an amazing halo-halo, remember that there’s a person who made your food experience possible.

We caught up with an award winning chef to give us insight on how he became a great pastry chef.

When did you start as a baker?

I started baking since I was 13 years old in our family owned bakeshop back in the Philippines. I was working in our bakeshop after school and during summer. This is where I developed my interest and passion for baking.

Why did you pursue this career instead of the traditional professions like nursing, engineering, etc.?

Growing up, I’ve always been interested in baking and cooking. I always enjoyed cooking with my siblings. We also had a small catering business, and my dad would let me do some of the cooking. After I had graduated from college, I started working in different hotels and restaurants in various countries as food and beverage server, supervisor and eventually a manager. I didn’t enjoy it as much as working in the kitchen. I get to be more creative and express myself through pastry and culinary arts.

What makes your work unique?

I get to turn simple ingredients like chocolate and sugar into a piece of art.

Where do you get your inspiration for your creations?

I usually do some research, and I follow some famous chefs on social media. Some of my creations are also inspired by where I came from (Philippines). I’ve started recreating some traditional Filipino desserts. I also found inspiration from my travels.

Who inspires you personally and as a chef?

My family, especially my parents. We always love food, and we’ve been in the food business since I was a kid. We had some ups and downs just like other businesses. I’ve been working hard because I wanted to be successful in what I do and share it with my family. My brother is also a baker, and he is currently running a cake and pastry business in the Philippines. His creations inspire me a lot.

What’s the most important characteristic of being an award winning chef?

I couldn’t really say I’m an award-winning chef because I am not there yet and I still have a long way to go and a lot more to learn. I think it is important to try to improve and be better at what you do every day. It’s continues learning and always try to push yourself.

What’s the hardest part of becoming a great chef?

It’s the pressure and stress in the kitchen to deliver a good product and to be consistent. It involves longs hours and a lot of thinking to be creative.

What’s your message to aspiring chefs?

Follow your passion. You can be anyone if you dedicate yourself to it. It’s all hard work, and you have to be obsessed at what you do. No one is born a great chef. You have to work for it.

Ely Rowen Salar
Company: Delta Hotels by Marriott at Kananaskis Lodge
Job Title: Head Pastry Chef
1.Won People Choice award at the Calgary Sugarcraft Cake competition 2015
2. Second Place for Contemporary Cake Category at the Calgary sugarcraft cake competition 2015
3. Winner of the Chocolate Showpiece Competition at the Pastry Chef showcase competition 2016


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