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5 minutes with Cedric Grolet

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Cedric Grolet is one of the most prominent figures on the French pastry scene and reflects a new generation of pastry chefs. Having excelled to the top of his game at the age of 31, Grolet is now the Head Pâtissier at the prestigious Le Meurice in Paris. As well as reinventing French pastry classics, the award winning chef is famed for his sculpted fruit creations and the Rubik’s Cube. Cedric Grolet recently taught three exclusive hands-on classes to a limited number of students at Savour School. We caught up with him and here’s what he had to say…

How did you get into patisserie?

At the age of 7 I was already in the kitchen. My grandparents owned a hotel in Andrézieux-Bouthéon just outside Lyon and my earliest memory is tasting the vanilla ice cream they made for me. It was from that moment that I knew I wanted to be a pastry chef.

What are your favourite flavours?

I love the most simple flavours. Simple is always best, even when I am reinventing the classics.

Do you have a favourite sculpted fruit?

La Noisette (hazelnut) is my signature sculpted fruit. Not only is it my personal favourite, it is also the best seller at Le Meurice.1Y1A8602-Edit-2

What was your inspiration behind the Rubik’s cube?

The idea was initiated during the quarterly Club des Sucrés. The concept of the Club des Sucrés was introduced by Christophe Adam and Christophe Michalak and occurs every 3 months in France. It brings together the finest and most famous pastry chefs who discuss emerging trends and new themes. I have childhood memories about travelling in the car during summer holidays and playing games to keep me entertained for the duration of the journey. It was then that we proposed the theme of the Rubik’s cube.

Was it the most technical pastry you have created?

I am continually testing myself and generating new ideas but the Rubik’s cube was undoubtedly the most technical creation to date. It took two full days to make but the final result was impeccable and worth all of the effort and work.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

My best achievement to date is when I took the position of Head Pâtissier at Le Meurice.

Tell us about your new book.

My new book “Fruits” will be released on 21st September 2017. There are 100 recipes and 450 pages. Each page is shot on a background that’s deeply connected to nature such as marble and grass.

All Things Chocolate

Chocolate is one of the most versatile ingredients that we use today. It can be used on its own or to compliment and harmonise with other ingredients. Here is some information to enable you to make an educated choice when purchasing your next order of chocolate.

As chocolate will be in such high demand (for consumption and conversation) for the next while, it’s good to have the basics of chocolate down – specifically understanding how chocolate is made, the difference between types of chocolate and how to work with it. Not all chocolates are created equal, so it’s important to know what you’re working with, and why, when it comes to creating delectable treats, especially during Easter.

An introduction to chocolate

Firstly, it’s important to understand that differences in chocolate lie far beyond flavour; while we may have friends who favour one brand over another, or one type more than the next, it’s important to understand chocolate as an entire industry. Choosing a chocolate has further consequences than just how it tastes.

Cocoa farming has been happening for decades, and thanks to reforms, better practices and greater awareness around sustainability and ethical work conditions have improved with each decade too.

Chocolate farming

Chocolate may be highly sought after, but that doesn’t take away from the 500,000 cocoa farmers who are living in extreme poverty. Or, the 2.03million children that were found doing hazardous cocoa work in Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire by Tulane University.

Along with concerning work conditions, the sustainability of the cocoa industry is very important. Farmers are often uneducated about better farming practices. Educating framers can enable them to achieve a better yield of cocoa and maintain soil for a longer life of cocoa bearing trees. The difference can be a maximum of 15 years where the tree will stop bearing cocoa. With a well maintained farm a farmer can get 50 years of crop from a cocoa tree. Farmers, who are working in impoverished conditions, can’t afford the resources or tools to better farm their crops. By better resourcing farmers through tools and education, their crops can prosper greatly, and their land is better cultivated to sustain further growth.

Ramifications

If we don’t make changes now in a few years we are going to find a drastic reduction in the production of cocoa which will drive chocolate prices up substantially. If farmers are not making money from cocoa, they will move to more profitable crops like rubber.

Choosing chocolate from a supplier who is committed to positive change can play a big part in the future of our chocolate. Taste, texture, finish and price are the primary concerns for most people when purchasing chocolate. I’d suggest that you also look at the greater value of what your chocolate supplier is bringing to the industry. Do some research before committing to a brand or a supplier – Callebaut, the brand that I choose to use and am an ambassador for, has an entire sustainability program dedicated to making the cocoa industry sustainable by 2020 by educating farmers.

Compound vs Couverture

There are two main types of chocolate used in Australia, compound and couverture chocolate.

Couverture chocolate is made with cocoa butter and cocoa liquor. Directly from the cocoa bean. Couverture is superior in flavour and quality. If you are using couverture on its own it needs to be tempered. If it is combined with other ingredients it doesn’t.

Compound chocolate is made with cocoa powder (instead of cocoa liquor) and hydrogenated oil (instead of cocoa butter). This makes it able to be melted and set on its own without tempering. However, the oil is usually a trans- fat, which is when manufacturers turn liquid oils, usually palm oil, into solid fats by adding hydrogen to it. Manufacturers of compound chocolate use hydrogenated and fractioned vegetable oils such as soyabean oil, rapeseed oil, coconut oil and palm oil, which contain high levels of trans fatty acids. This lifts the melting point of the fat.

Which means our bodies find it difficult to melt and process. It coats our palate and clogs our arteries. Alarmingly, some compound chocolates have been found to have trans- fat levels of up to 50%! Of course, the use of hydrogenated and fractioned vegetable oils also negatively effects the environment, as cultivating the plants and products to produce the oils uses more energy and more crops.

Compound chocolate and trans-fats are banned in many countries due to the long term health implications.

Here are some basics to know when it comes to working with chocolate:

Storing

Chocolate is best stored in a cool dry place that’s not close to any other pungent or aromatic foods.

Melting chocolate

I’m a big advocate for using the microwave when melting chocolate – by heating it in 30-second increments you can monitor it and don’t have a problem with steam when melting it on the stove.

Tempering chocolate

Tempering is controlling the way we melt and set the couverture which controls the crystals present in the cocoa butter. It’s imperative to heat couverture to a point where all the crystals are melted initially, which is about 45C. From this point you can add in 20% chocolate buttons and stir it through vigorously. Do a test a piece of silicon paper if it sets at room temperature and has a clear mat finish your chocolate is tempered. For more in-depth information, you can watch our tempering video on our YouTube page @Savourschool.

Knowing when to melt and when to temper

figuring out if you should melt or temper your chocolate, it’s best to use melted chocolate when it’s being used as an ingredient. However, if the chocolate will be used as a garnish or for dipping, then temper your chocolate. And remember to only temper chocolate that has cocoa butter in it.

One of the things I love the most about chocolate is the versatility to create so many different products. Flowers, garnishes or pralines, there are so many possibilities to wow others and delight taste buds. Understanding the principles of chocolate, and the source of where your chocolate comes is of great importance.

So as you prepare your moulds, or dream up delectable Easter themed creation, I encourage you to go back to basics, and always go back to where the bean came from.

 

Download FREE the Savour Patissier of the Year 2016 eBook

Savour Patissier of the YearThe 2016 Savour Patissier of the Year competition was a great success and to celebrate  we are giving away the 2016 Savour Patissier of the Year eCookbook for FREE. (limited time only)

This eBook features:

  • Four categories of products from the competition including Macarons, Eclairs, Tarts and Entremets
  • The Top 10 products from each category as judged by Frank Haasnoot, Jordi Bordas, Julien Alvarez and Paul Kennedy
  • 4 bonus recipes from the People’s Choice Winners
  • Stunning images by renowned photographer Richard Weinstein

We hope the Savour Patissier of the Year eBook can celebrate the amazing pastry chefs who participated and the spectacular flavors that were created.

If you do attempt to recreate any of the stunning decorations from the book, we would love for you to post and tag us on Instagram @savourpatissieroftheyear

Go to our eBook page to subscribe and receive your free copy.

The World Chocolate Masters 2015 in Paris

How lucky am I? I have just experienced three days of nail biting intensity (also a little bit of chocolate biting) while viewing the World Chocolate Masters competition in Paris. I had an amazing opportunity to not only walk through the competition area for an intimate view of the competitors, but I also tasted my way through 20 of the world’s best chocolatiers and pastry chef’s creations.

The World Chocolate Masters is a unique international competition that is solely focused on chocolate in every category. The competition is run by French chocolate brand Cacao Barry and is one of the few international competitions that is an individual event and not a team event. The final in Paris had 20 competitors from around the world.

The competition is split into two groups of ten that compete on day one and day two. The competitors were given the theme ‘Inspiration from Nature’ and both groups had to create the following items on their day of competing:

Showpiece by Winner Vincent Vallée of France

Chocolate showpiece
A chocolate sculpture embracing the theme. All the individual elements for the showpiece can be pre-made but not joined.

Moulded praline
Competitors had the opportunity to design their own chocolate mould fitting with the theme and create a moulded chocolate live during the competition.

Sweet Snack on the Go
A sweet takeaway item made live. The competitors also had to design and print their own packaging to present their snack in.

‘My Or Noir’ story
Prior to the competition commencing all competitors were flown to Paris to design and create their own chocolate from the cocoa bean that was presented at the competition to a panel of expert judges. This chocolate could also be used in any of the competitor’s products.

Here is the twist: After the first two days of competition only the top ten competitors go through to day three. Let me put this into perspective; ten of the competitors who have trained, worked, sacrificed, developed and prepared their products for day three didn’t have the opportunity to compete. Here is what the top ten finalists created on day three:

Selection of Pralines from the Competitors

Patisserie of the Day
The patisserie of the day must contain at least three different textural elements and have an explicit chocolate taste. Patisserie of the day is a fresh and delicate pastry which is meant to be displayed and made “à la minute” or fresh each morning. A traditional example of a patisserie of the day might be a Saint-Honoré, Millefeuille or Éclair.

Artistic creation titled: ‘Where Nature Goes’
A broken white bird cage supplied by the organisers was the base to be used for a small chocolate showpiece. Adhering to the theme, competitors were asked to build a chocolate showpiece utilising the bird cage as a base.

On October the 30th this year Vincent Vallée from France was crowned World Chocolate Master in Paris. Hailed as the ‘most challenging chocolate competition’ in the world of chocolate, it is the most prestigious title to win for chocolatiers. For the next three years, Vincent Vallée will

Vincent Vallee of France

Vincent Vallee of France

wear the title of World’s Best Chocolate Craftsman. He gets the unique opportunity to visit a cocoa plantation and his work will be displayed in the world-renowned Harrods department store in London. Hinashi Onobayashi from Japan and Marijn Coertjens from Belgium were awarded the silver and bronze medals.

Australia will be holding the World Chocolate Masters national selections at Crown Casino on the 26th of June 2016. For expressions of interest or to receive an entry form please contact Kirsten Tibballs via the Savour contact us page.

Copyright on Products: Where do we draw the line?

Pipa

Pipa is a creation by Paul Kennedy at Savour Chocolate & Patisserie School

With the increased ability of reaching our target audience via social media, businesses, bakers and chefs have ongoing pressure to continually post exceptional images. Not many chefs or businesses are in the position to either pay for a professional photographer or have the variety of product to enable them to post regularly. This has led to some individuals posting images of other people’s product without prior consent or acknowledgment of the original creator.

I also come across regular contention on social media from chefs recreating other people’s product and not acknowledging the original designer. If you are re-creating someone else’s product should they get a mention? At what point is it no longer their idea and concept, or is this just the greatest form of flattery even if they don’t get the recognition. For example a pastry chef at some point created the éclair, croissant, macaron, lamington etc…

There are copyright laws pertaining to work created. Social media sites also have their own guidelines on copyright.

What is copyright? A work of authorship includes literary, written, dramatic, artistic, musical and other certain types of works which can include cakes, baked goods, desserts etc… Copyright exists as soon as the product is created and it applies to published and non-published works. As soon as you put down your palette knife, click the shutter on your camera, or hit the home button on your smart phone you have got a copyright (with some exceptions). Copyright also covers photography and that means that in relation to an artistic work, copying includes the making of a copy of a photograph in two dimensions or a three-dimensional work. This is a grey area as to what qualifies as artistic work. So if you see an image of a product it may be protected by copyright which should stop you recreating it.
Copyright is automatic and does not require you to file any paper work as is the case for trademarks and patents.

Having a copyright enables you exclusively to
1. Reproduce the copyrighted work
2. Display the copyrighted work publicly
3. Prepare derivative works based on the copyrighted work
4. Distribute copies of copyrighted work to the public by sale, rental and or display the image.

There is an exception called Fair Use, this allows the public to use portions of copyrighted work without permission from the owner.

Copyright of food products is much more prevalent in countries such as USA who are renowned for their litigation. A good example of this is Dominique Ansel’s Cronut.

Cronut

Dominique Ansel’s ‘Cronut’ creation

United States Patent and Trademark Office records reveal that “Cronut” is now a registered trademark. Dominique Ansel filed the paperwork for the croissant-doughnut hybrid shortly after its public debut in May 2013, but the trademark was not registered until 2014.
After Dominique announced his trademark plans for the Cronut last year, his decision was met with some hostility from other businesses. At the time, the bakery took to Facebook to explain the decision.

The post read, in part:
“Our desire to protect the name is not an attempt to claim or take credit for all cooking methods associated with the recipe or all croissant and doughnut products in general. Instead it offers bakery and chef protection against un-granted affiliations with the bakery or confusion with customers”.

I think if you are using someone else’s image you should always request consent before you proceed, if you replicate a product that you have seen as an image of you should credit the original creator. Always be inspired by others work and when creating your own productions do it in your own style. If people replicate or copy your work it forces you to create a new concept or product and keep evolving as a professional.