How to become famous with a sweet? How to go from artisan to artist with a chocolate? These were the themes of the World Pastry Stars, a event that saw ten of the best pastry chefs together in Milan for the first time. An unusual concept for a food event: no show cooking, no recipes, only life stories told by the protagonists themselves.
Pierre Marcolini’s life rhymes with belgian chocolate and their excellence: he has 30 points of sale, and while you are reading he is probably opening a new one. “ The way to create a great business is just one: find your own style, if you don’t have a great personality and are unable to convey it through your pastries, bon bons, you will never become a great pastry chefs, you just stay a good store owner”. The French Philippe Conticini confirms this idea: “You create a business with rigor and a great idea to start with, no matter what kind of business you are opening. I started with “verrines”, the vertical transposition of a pastry contained in glass packages. If you have a revolutionary idea, you can build a small empire around it.”
Jean-Paul Hévin represents luxury, beginning with his store in Rue Saint Honorè. “The succes of my 5 stores in Japan? Simply knowing the language. I studied it because it was the only way O could understand the culture and their taste and create the right product for the location. I tried to do this in every country, I study to uncover the local populations’ deepest desires”.
The master from Brescia Iginio Massari, the “father” of many Italian pastry chefs, insists on the “importance of never compromising a product’s quality”, not even during times of crisis. Quality starts with the team: “The secret to a good business is working with the employees in lowering the costs, they had gone up by 40% in the last year, and create more space in my laboratories”. The other Italian in attendance is Luigi Biasetto, he invented the famous “7 veils” cake, and talks about how difficult it is to run a business: “I’ve earned results thanks to research and the people I work with. To stay up to date and follow the trends is crucial in being successful.”
His pastries reach everyone from Alicante. He was elected the best pastry chefs in Spain and Europe, his name is Francisco "Paco" Torreblanca, and he moved the audience by telling them how the economi crisis hit Spain and his revenue was cut to one third of what he earned before and almost had him close his busines. “My family’s support saved me. I cut expenses, I had to let people ho, and I thought: Paco you must start fresh. That’s what every businessman should think when times get rough. The Spanish Carles Mampel, the inventor of the Bubò brand, says the secret to turn a good product into a business is the concept: from the storie’s interior design to packaging, everthing is thought through by the company’s graphic designers.
There is not one single American who doesn’t recognize the hand-painted chocolate heart by chocolatier Norman Love, and his story is not as straight forward: “I’ve traveled the world for years, I was making products for hospitals and in my free time I was following my passion: making chocolate in humid Florida. Today I produce over 3 million pieces in my 6000 mq laboratory and I can only suggest this: if you are determined you can go very far”.
German Volker Gmeiner, owner of 6 countertrend stores says: “I don’t invest much in machines, I hire people because I believe in handcrafted work”. Imperfection is what adds value to our product”. The British William Curley, the mind behind Harrod’s pastry shop, finally adds: “Before we open a store, we study the area: our store in Belgravia can’t be the same as the one in Harrod’s. We’ve come up with a new concept: the dessert bar, a place where you can eat sweets and fruits with forks and knives, like in any other restaurant.”