It took a while for Nishant Amin to get used to being a bit of a novelty.
Amin is a pastry chef at Toronto restaurant Richmond Station, which means he’s whipping up everything from breads to sugary confections like cheesecakes and macarons daily.
He’s also Type 1 diabetic. His body produces little to no insulin, resulting in difficulty regulating his blood sugars.
People are often surprised at the idea of a diabetic pastry chef, Amin said — but he uses the opportunity to educate people about the disease and advocate for his community.
“People around me now, they look up to me and they’re like, ‘Oh, wow, we have a chef who is diabetic and is a pastry chef.’ Now, I think those things … push me forward to achieve more goals, and it inspires people around me.”
His latest achievement is winning the Canadian national selection competition for next year’s World Chocolate Masters in Paris.
“It’s an amazing feeling when I won the competition, when I heard my name,” Amin said. “That’s when I thought, like… this is what I want.”
The qualifier took place in Montreal in October. Amin went head-to-head with Chef Jérémy Monsel, the head chocolatier at Christophe Morel in Boucherville, Que.
Competitors had to produce a showpiece, a bonbon, a vegan snack and a fresh pastry — all within eight hours.
“When he got into this competition, he went all in,” said Richmond Station co-owner and chef Carl Heinrich. “That’s all he did. That’s all he thought about, that’s all he dreamt about: day and night.
“So, it’s really no surprise to me that he won.”
Amin is now training — and fundraising — for the international competition, which will be held in October 2022.
He’ll be juggling working at the restaurant with practising his competition pieces and travelling to the Montreal Chocolate Academy for training.
Besides travel and ingredient costs, he’s also raising money for his medical expenses: insulin and insulin pump supplies as well as glucose monitoring systems can cost several hundred dollars per month.
But despite his everyday challenges, Amin is looking forward to honing his craft and representing his country.
“I love this country so much — it’s one of those dreams coming true,” he said.
“It’s a beautiful feeling.”
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