By: Rebecca Feigelsohn
At the budding age of twelve, pastry chef Donald Duong began his culinary training in Saigon, Vietnam in the kitchen of his grandmother’s bakery. As the eldest grandchild, Duong’s aunt, mother and grandmother trained him after school where he learned to create the beautiful cakes that his family’s shop sold to nearby markets. Duong’s mother remains an ever-present influence in his pastry design and she continues to work with him in his now highly praised bakery, restaurant, and catering company, Dessert Trends. Duong has both a retail shop called DT Bistro, that is a full service restaurant offering savoury and sweet cuisine, and a patisserie, as well as a wholesale cake studio.
After fleeing Vietnam in search of freedom in 1986, Duong and his family established themselves in Toronto where he pursued a culinary degree part-time, while working at various hotels and restaurants throughout the city. Excelling in pastry and standing out amongst his peers, Duong was invited to teach speciality classes at George Brown in 1996 and assist aspiring pastry chefs prepare for competitions, a job he continues intermittently while juggling the responsibilities of his own company. Duong enjoys his time teaching and says it helps alleviate the stress of business, he also loves to see the revolution in food and trends, “I learn from everyone,” he says. In addition to Duong’s pastry training in Toronto, he received a scholarship to study at the acclaimed Lenôtre pastry school in Lyon, France where we was introduced to various chefs throughout Europe and was able to work and study in Italy, Switzerland and England.
In 2004, Duong was selected from the Ontario Culinary Team to compete in the World Culinary Olympics in Germany. Despite losing his pastry tools and juggling his business responsibilities while abroad, he was persistent and proudly won the gold metal for his pastry creations. Duong recalls his favourite part of the competition was being able to share knowledge and learn from the best chefs in the world. He is continually interested in expanding his repertoire of creations; Duong is inspired by the work of Pierre Hermé, and travels to New York, California, Paris and Spain to conduct research. His influences are mainly French, Asian, and Mediterranean flavours, such as matcha green tea, Thai durian, and rose water. Duong is also fond of seasonal ingredients and alters his menu weekly in order to offer his customers fresh and innovative pastries.
With his newly renovated restaurant, DT Bistro, Duong is focused mainly on his business responsibilities as he oversees 36 staff, some of whom he has been working with for thirteen years. The experience of his clients is a priority for Duong as well. His customers are always assured of quality, excellent service and affordability, no matter if it is a large-scale event for notable guests such as Queen Elizabeth, Pope John Paul II, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper, or if he is designing a cake for 20 people, they are always satisfied. The loyalty of his customers and his close relationship with them is Duong’s favourite part of his job, “they are like my family,” he says.
DT Bistro-Patisserie is located at 154 Harbord Street, Dessert Trends Bakery is located at 325 Weston Road , Unit 4B desserttrends.ca
Rebecca Feigelsohn is a Toronto based editorial intern for Good Food Revolution. She recently completed her BA in English at McGill University and loves all things sweet. Follow her as she profiles Toronto pastry chefs @GoodFoodRevInt