Shop with a Chef: Esther Tso, Thomas Haas Fine Chocolates and Pâtisserie

Five a.m. feels painfully early, the still hour of the morning when Esther Tso begins creating jewel-like pastries to adorn the display cases at Thomas Haas’s patisseries. Tso’s career as a pastry chef began nearly eight years ago under Haas’s tutelage—fresh out of VCC’s Baking and Pastry Arts program, she took her work experience at the Georgia Hotel’s Sen5es Bakery. She has worked with chef Haas since then to create decadent delights showcasing the local bounty of regionally sourced, seasonally available ingredients. In fall and winter the focus shifts to biodynamic apples and pears: crisp, flavourful Ambrosias and Fujis for galettes; sweet, juicy Bartletts and d’Anjous for the Pear Almond Tart. North Vancouver roaster Moja Coffee (1412 Rupert St., 604-983-6652) supplies the beans for both caffeine fixes and infusions of coffee flavour; butter from Victoria-based Island Farms dairy is the glue that holds it all together. The hard-working folks at Glorious Organics Cooperative (1374 256th St., Aldergrove, 604-857-1400) provide edible flowers for delicate finishing touches. Tso sticks to light, fresh fare when cooking at home; on weekends she’ll scope out ingredients for quinoa salad at Yaletown’s Urban Fare (177 Davie St., 604-975-7550) or at one of the many green grocers along Kitsilano’s West Broadway corridor like Golden Valley Farm Market (3045 W. Broadway, 604-733-3398). She confesses a weakness for cookies, though, and she’s hard pressed to resist the temptation of chunky Trail Mix cookies by English Bay Batter. Most recently Tso has been working overtime to stock the shelves of their new location in Kitsilano with seasonal cakes, pastries, and tarts—and those sinfully decadent chocolates.