Callum Liddicoat, Executive Pastry Chef at Park Hyatt Auckland

Meet Callum Liddicoat — the master pastry chef behind Park Hyatt’s epic sweet treats and pastry creations

In the culinary world, there are artists, and then there are maestros. Callum Liddicoat, the Executive Pastry Chef at Park Hyatt Auckland, undeniably belongs to the latter category. In conversation with Tessa Patrick, Liddicoat shares his culinary philosophy, his favourite dining spots and the joy he finds in his job.

Callum Liddicoat’s journey to becoming a pastry master is a tale of passion, dedication and a thirst for continuous learning — which speaks to the tenacious culinary spirit he has brought to Park Hyatt’s exceptional dining offering, (over which Liddicoat presides as Executive Pastry Chef).

With more than 24 years of experience, Liddicoat’s career began in his native Gold Coast before embarking on a calling that took him around the world, from London to Fiji, facing new challenges and embracing new learnings with every destination. (I’m even told that once, he made 30,000 scones over five days during his tenure at Lords Cricket Grounds.)

The Splice

Under Liddicoat’s meticulous eye, Park Hyatt has become renowned for its exquisite slant on the sweeter side of life — from exquisite cream eggs (hugely popular at Easter time) to meticulously-crafted gingerbread houses, which sell out every Christmas. Modern, simple and natural are pillars of his culinary philosophy, brought to life in each delightful creation across the venue’s flagship destinations; Onemata, The Pantry and The Living Room — the last of which has seen the pastry chef’s approach to afternoon tea captivate Auckland’s most discerning diners. “I believe the secret to an irresistible and sublime-tasting dessert is balance,” he divulges. “And teaching your palate to know when to add layers of textures and flavours and when to hold back. Less is more sometimes, but always push the boundaries.”

“The best thing about my career is I’m still learning, still pushing and still believing I have more to give.”

Since taking up somewhat of a mentor position at Park Hyatt, overseeing other up-and-coming chefs, Liddicoat views his role as a privilege. In this position, he can lead and guide others in all stages of their culinary careers and have the creative freedom to make pastry magic. “I’m hugely passionate about giving back to the industry that has given me so much and allowed me to express myself through the art of food while travelling the globe,” he tells me.

Leading the Park Hyatt pastry team through numerous Covid-related challenges has tested Callum’s mettle. Nevertheless, his commitment to excellence and relentless pursuit of pushing boundaries have earned him numerous accolades, and his tenacity, combined with his team’s unwavering support, continues to take Park Hyatt’s pastry offerings to bold new heights.

Outside of the hotel, Liddicoat’s approach to food is far less intricate. Like most chefs, food is more straightforward at home, but he still stresses the importance of nourishing himself with tasty ingredients. And when dining outside the precinct, you’ll find him at Viaduct Harbour’s Hello Beasty, Ponsonby Road stalwart Prego, or Parade, for a seriously indulgent burger.

Carrot Cake

But life isn’t always sweet, and sometimes, as he tells me, you get sick of the cakes after too many versions of trial and error. Liddicoat explains that due to travelling the world, working long hours in kitchens, and having to reinvent the wheel many times, mental health and anxiety are prevalent among many pastry chefs; something with which he too has had to grapple with in his career. But there is also, he counters, such joy to be found working in this space, from being purely creative and hands-on to the friends and connections you make. Anyone who has worked in hospitality will testify to the latter.

“The best thing about my career is I’m still learning, still pushing and still believing I have more to give,” he confesses. “I wouldn’t say I’m an expert in one area of pastry, but I have built my career around learning and developing skills in all areas of the pastry kitchen. Give me a challenge and the tools to run a multi-outlet hotel, and that’s when I’m in my element.” And anyone who’s sampled his goods will attest to his brilliance. In Liddicoat’s case, the proof really is in the pudding.

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