You moved from Lebanon to Sweden when you were six. What have you brought with you into adulthood?
The incredible value of family and friends and that food is very important. I grew up with big noisy dinners several times a week. Food was the center that connected family and friends. Following that lead, I want baking to be a delightful way to spend time with friends. I’ve gained enormous respect and love for various cultures, which I always incorporate into my work.
Your baking talent was revealed when you were in your early teens. Is that when you started dreaming of becoming a pastry chef?
As a kid, I was pretty messy. Maybe not totally hopeless, but I was always interested in everything else - rather than what people wanted me to do at the time. When I cooked and baked, my chaos was transformed into creativity. Looking back, I realize how incredibly important it has been to have strong role models who have encouraged this trait in me.
The same year you got your journeymans certificate, you competed in a young bakers championship and won..
I'm very competitive as a person and love to challenge myself, no matter whether it’s basketball or baking the best pastry. I always think that I can do better and about want to measure myself against the best in order to grow. When I won the Swedish Championship for Pastry Chefs, I understood that I have a talent that I should seriously take advantage of. I then came third in the European Championship for Young Bakers, which kicked off my career with a job at the prestigious Tösse bakery (Tössebageriet) in Stockholm.
On November 14, 2010, you became Sweden’s Pastry Chef of the Year. What has it meant to you?
A lot! On that particular day, I was the best in Sweden. No one can take that away from me. It triggered a feeling in me that absolutely nothing is impossible, and it opened many doors to various exciting opportunities.
How do you proceed when developing a new recipe?
Everything can always be improved. Each recipe is about making choices—the right choices. I start by identifying what the pastry will be. I then decide how to develop the batter, determine the ingredients, and above all, how I’ll best combine different flavors. The choices are endless, which gives me infinite possibilities to constantly learn and grow.
Your cookies and cakes are very beautiful...
I see myself as a food artist. The visual plays a key role in my work - regardless of whether I’m writing a book, publishing a recipe on my blog, or baking on TV. I love the creative aspect of my profession.
How do you approach ingredients?
I'm certainly no ingredient snob. If I want to make a cake with marshmallows or Oreo cookies then I will. It’s okay to take shortcuts, but of course when it’s a dessert in which chocolate is a fundamental ingredient, then I’ll choose a great high-quality chocolate. I’m always curious when it comes to trying new ingredients in order to reveal new flavors.
You must be extremely good at combining flavors. What goes through your head when you combine flavors in a new recipe?
I work with a few, clean flavors. As for taste less is more - up to three or four makes it noteworthy. I also work a lot with texture, which affects the taste. I love to have something that’s creamy, slightly fluffy, and slightly crunchy. I like to follow the seasons, for example berries during summer and apples and nuts during autumn.
What’s the chemical-emotional ratio when it comes to baking?
Baking equals chemistry. Sure, you get a feel for the texture of the dough and creams after a while, but chemistry is the foundation. Everything you put in a recipe will determine the results—and that's what's so awesome.
For example, flour and liquid form gluten; a combination which will start a reaction.
Is that why you often stress the importance of weighing ingredients?
When baking at home people often get frustrated when they get varying results.
But if you weigh ingredients carefully, you get the same good cake every time.
My recipes are my brand and when you follow them, I want you to trust me that the results will be just as good, every time.
You published Sweet!, your first cookbook, in 2012. You introduced flavors from France, Sweden, and the US. What inspires you?
France inspires us a lot in Sweden. And then there' s a love-hate relationship with the US, which I think is exciting. The book was a way for me to introduce recipes that are easy to make at home.
Your book, United States of Cakes, won an award as the world's best.
My experience of US baked goods is that they are incredibly beautiful but very sweet.
So you gave them your twist. What does that mean?
It' s very much about developing what’s already been done. For example, many American pastries have frosting that’s made with just butter and powdered sugar, which gets pretty boring. But by adding a little meringue and chocolate it suddenly becomes very good.
Will we see more of the American pastries this spring?
Yes, I’m the host of “United States of Cakes” on Swedish channel 5 program which is inspired by my book with the same title. In the TV show, I travel around the US and bake recipes from the book together with many wonderful guests.
You are confectioner and extremely fit. How do you manage that?
Baking is a pleasure, but you can’t do it constantly.
I believe in a good balance between eating, exercising, and indulging.
Your blog and your Instagram account are very popular.
Do you get any negative comments?
Reactions are positive 99 percent of the time. But when you’re a public figure some people take the liberty to speak out about you. Although I have good self-confidence, I get sad when people write that I'm worthless. However, in most cases, my followers shower me with support and appreciation. I’m opposed to the “Law of Jante” in Sweden. If things go well for you, then be proud and build your confidence so that you have the courage to become more creative and go against the crowd.
Delicious, your new book, contains yummy recipes for autumn and winter.
What do you want readers to take from it?
It’s my interpretation of the classic Swedish cookbook Seven Small Cookies.
I based the book on autumn and winter—seasons during which we stay inside a lot and where baking is the perfect way to spend your time. You get a great moment for yourself when you bake and it’s a reason to invite your friends to try your new treats.
What are true Swedish pastries according to you?
Oval shaped tarts topped with white icing, Tuscan cake, and particularly cookies, I love cookies and I think that the Swedish coffee culture is very special. It' s great to go into a pastry shop and be able to choose amongst 10–15 different pastries.
You’ve already realized many of your dreams. What do you dream about now?
I have a passion for all sweet things, and I love to share my knowledge and what inspires me in my TV programs, books, and in my own channels such as my web site, Facebook, and Instagram. It’s the best reward of all when people tell me they’ve succeeded in the kitchen. I’d also like to encourage more young people to become pastry chefs. If you’re creative, willing to work hard and have a passion for sweet things, it’s a wonderful profession.
You don’t run your own pastry shop or café . . .
Not right now, so if you want a cake from Roy Fares, you have to bake it yourself - haha.
But I’ve dreamed about having my own cozy place sometime in the future.
Would you like to take part of Roys interesting, fun and beautiful recipes?