The sweetest ending

Five great final lectures restore dignity in restaurant pastry making. Here’s the story


Hideko Kawa, head pastry-chef at Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck, offers the audience a tasting of Botrytis cinerea, a dessert that reproduces a grape bunch. The three days in the Auditorium hall ended with the pastry-chefs of 5 restaurants, from France, Italy, United Kingdom and Spain: a total of 14 Michelin stars (photo by Alessandro Castiglioni)


La presentatrice della giornata Livia Chiriotti con Eric Pras e Emilie Rey
Maxime Melleur
Hideko Kawa, Jonny Lake e James Petrie, rispettivamente pastry chef, head chef e head of creative deprtment del Fat Duck
Heinz Beck e Giuseppe Amato

Following the tradition established in the past eight editions and in the same way as a great meal needs to be closed with a dessert that rises to the occasion, leaving the client totally satisfied, this year too had a sweet ending thanks to Dossier Dessert – a space dedicated to restaurant pastry-making. Livia Chiriotti accompanied us on a “trip around Europe”, discovering the best sweet chefs and following the leitmotiv of chocolate. The first stop was in France, with Eric Pras, the designed successor guiding the prestigious Maison Lameloise, in Bourgogne, since 2009. Together with pastry-chef Emilie Rey they talked about the respect between chef and pastry-chef that is necessary to conduct a common idea of cuisine based on moderate sweetness and on a synesthetic approach in which flavours, aromas and textures all go together.

Jordi Roca, Catalan coconut

Jordi Roca, Catalan coconut

We moved on to Cataluña, with the new Rocambolesc (literally “incredible” but also a wordplay referring to the chef’s name), a project by Jordi Roca (on stage with his wife Alexandra, his partner and muse). He’s a pastry-chef with a passion for ice-cream, who brings high cuisine to the streets thanks to his gourmet ice-creams which are the basis for creative combinations such as the dessert lactico (an ice-cream made with goat milk, guava sauce, dulce de leche and candyfloss). His dream was the classic ice-cream cart but bureaucratic reasons imposed him to make do with a shop, and soon there will also be a second opening.

Then there’s was small Italian break with the presentation of Gianluca Fusto’s book Percorsi. This is a beautiful journey following the professional and emotional itinerary of a great pastry-chef to whom we owe, in part, the birth of Dossier Dessert. We then flew over the Channel and together with James Petrie, Jonny Lake and Hideko Kawa we entered the (decisively complex and sometimes visionary) creative processes behind the birth of the Fat Duck’s dishes and desserts: researching historical sources, molecular analyses, flavour influences or childhood intuitions, because, as Lake explains, an excessively strong scientific approach can suffocate creativity. So, for instance, we saw the birth of “blown” mandarin pralines, or chocolate “cards” filled with raspberry cake, a tribute to Alice in wonderland.

Heinz Beck on stage with pastry-chef Giuseppe Amato

Heinz Beck on stage with pastry-chef Giuseppe Amato

Like last year, Heinz Beck and Giuseppe Amato presented a dessert created specifically for the occasion of the congress, a dessert which concludes a journey across the elements called Il Mio Universo (My Universe). After Globo (Globe), Mare (Sea) and Terra (Earth), here comes the Sun, Sole, an “incandescent” disc (served on a special back-lighted dish) that unites sapidity and measured sweetness, creamy and crunchy textures, the freshness of carrots and passion fruit with the roundness of chocolate. This dish is also respectful of health, both with regards to nutritional content (it is under 200 calories to respect a balanced daily calorie count) and to those affected by celiac disease, being gluten-free.

The final burst of speed was with Maxime Meilleur – who works side by side with his father in the family restaurant La Bouitte, in Savoy, after leaving triathlon for pastry-making. With his “religiosa” he reproduces a pine tree from the Savoy mountains – delicious cream puffs with different textures and chocolate-based aromas, from cream to sorbet – finished with some “grated” white meringue, finally bringing some snow inside the Auditorium, after two days of snowing outside in Milan.