Tag Archives: paul kennedy pastry chef

Chocolate Showpieces: The Pinnacle of Food Art

What is a show piece? What makes pastry chefs and professionals strive to perfect these creative structures that flout gravity. I often ask myself why show pieces? They are impossible to sell due to the high labour content, they often don’t last long due to the fragile nature of the ingredients, and they take hours sometimes weeks of painstaking work to form.

Chocolate Showpiece by Paul KennedyNew Chocolate Showpiece by Savour Chocolate & Patisserie School Paul KennedyI do know why the increasingly popular constructions are made. What better way to showcase your skills on a grand scale. You must be able to create a showpiece to enter most international competitions. We as professionals are now often judged as a tradespeople by the strength of our show piece making skills. The top of their game Stephane Treand, Stephane Leroux, Frank Haasnoot and Stephane Klein are closely monitored by professionals around the world for the next trend or fashion in show pieces.

Show pieces are usually created by one of three mediums, chocolate, sugar and pastillage very few pastry chefs specialize in all three areas. The main one we lack skill and expertise in Australia is sugar but we certainly shine through with chocolate with Australia hosting some of the best in the world arguably Paul Kennedy is one of the leaders in Australia.

Chocolate Showpiece

Chocolate Showpiece from World Chocolate Masters

Paul was a finalist at the World Chocolate Masters in Paris and is Executive Pastry Chef at Savour Chocolate & Patisserie School. ‘Styles are constantly being re-invented with a new twist’ explains Paul. ‘Like fashion and everything in food, the styles of show pieces changes rapidly.’

The first step in starting the journey on a new show piece is understanding the medium you are working with for example the ability to temper chocolate. Next is the design, to start with it is easier to copy a simple show piece you have seen and liked. Draw the piece in pencil first ensuring the design flows and is not too static so the piece looks like it is moving. Cardboard is an easy medium to use to create your structure for chocolate. A lot of professionals will make a mock up of the show piece in cardboard before creating it with expensive ingredients. With our climate in Australia any type of sugar structure will deteriorate quickly, chocolate with the correct temperature controls can last for years.

One of the most important points when creating a show piece is to keep the piece clean and neat. Also try to emulate air and lightness by creating negative space in the piece so it is not too heavy. If you are recreating a life like item make it as close as possible to the natural equivalent. For example a flower should reflect a native flower but on a larger scale. Your structure should be solid to support all your decorations on the piece, but once the show piece is finished your structure should be almost invisible and just supporting your decorations.

Frank Haasnoot Chocolate Showpiece

Frank Haasnoot Chocolate Showpiece from 2011 World Chocolate Master

Chocolate show pieces date back over 70 years in history which started out as piped chocolate filigree assembled into three dimensional centre pieces followed by carved sculptures from a solid block of chocolate.  Then we moved onto modelling chocolate figures, modelling chocolate created from glucose and chocolate. With the invention of chocolate cool spray chocolate show pieces improved in leaps and bounds. Chocolate cool spray is compressed cold air in a aerosol that will instantly set chocolate, which means you no longer have to stand there holding a piece in place waiting for the chocolate to set. We now see incredible architecturally designed pieces that are getting more sophisticated each year.

Savour has just launched the newest chocolate showpiece creation for students to create in class. The western themed showpiece featuring various skulls, intricate flowers and life-like barbed wired.

Experts agree, eating dark chocolate is GOOD for you!

Is Dark Chocolate Good For you
A recent article by
Time Magazine discussed whether or not eating dark chocolate was a good or bad thing, and the result was a resounding – YES!

5 out of 5 experts agreed that you should eat dark chocolate and has been linked to lowering blood pressure and increasing anti-inflammatory activity, which helps protect against heart disease. With most things though, it is always best when you eat it in moderation.

If we take it one step further in terms of ‘health’, you need to take into consideration that not all dark chocolate is the same.

Firstly, dark chocolate can found in two forms, compound and couverture. One of the biggest differences is that couverture contains cocoa butter. However, compound removes this cocoa butter and replaces it with vegetable oil. Compound chocolate has a 45 degree melting point, which means it will never melt in your body, making it harder to digest and can raise your cholesterol.

Secondly, the higher the the percentage of chocolate, the better. Dark couverture can be found in percentages ranging from 54% to 80% and sometimes even higher.

Savour Chocolate & Patisserie School in Brunswick run cooking classes in Melbourne and only use Callebaut couverture chocolate in our school and in our retail store for purchase. Some of the different variants of cocoa percentage include:

Callebaut Dark 54% Couverture Chocolate
Callebaut Dark 70% Couverture Chocolate
Callebaut Dark 80% Couverture Chocolate

Callebaut OriginsCallebaut also produces an Origin range where the cocoa beans are produced from a single region. Each chocolate brings you a different taste and aromatic character – reflecting the soil, the climate and the environment where the cocoa beans were grown. Just like wine, the taste of these couvertures can slightly alter with each harvest. The different origin chocolate regions include:

Callebaut Brazil 66.8% Couverture Chocolate
Callebaut Sao Thome 70% Couverture Chocolate
Callebaut Ecuador 70% Couverture Chocolate
Callebaut Madagascar 70% Couverture Chocolate

YES, dark chocolate is good for you, but as you can see, when it comes to dark chocolate, there are many options and varieties.

I would recommend trying all the different dark chocolates and finding the right one that suits you in terms of cocoa percentage, and of course taste – besides it’s good for you!

World’s Largest Chocolate Flower Bouquet – Savour Chocolate & Patisserie School

Worlds Largest Chocolate Flower Display - Savour Chocolate & Patisserie School

Whose idea was it to attempt the World’s Largest Chocolate Flower Bouquet? Well mine, it sounded like a great idea at time. Chocolate Flowers is something Savour Chocolate & Patisserie School excels at so this would be easy right?

The flower making part was a pleasure with Paul Kennedy’s expertise and our working dynamic, this process was flawless.   Worlds Largest Chocolate Flower Display We decided on an Avatar inspired theme and F. Mayer Imports came on board sponsoring the event with Callebaut. We had a venue and a fantastic event with The Cake Bake & Sweet Show.

Everything looked great, and then we thought about the logistics. How do we transport 200kg of delicately made flowers the five kilometres from Savour in Brunswick to the Cake Bake & Sweet Show at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre?  For the Guinness record all the flowers had to be pre-made. So Paul and I started this painstaking flower making process six months ago recruiting Australian World Chocolate Master Rebecca Carins, my apprentice Jean Kirkland and Savour volunteers Janine Sang, Yuliana Sutanto, Maggy Wong, Jason Kwon and John Law.

Chocolate Flowers - Savour Chocolate & Patisserie School Some of the flowers have taken up to 8 hours to create just one flower, with a total of 1,500 hours of combined labour to create all the flowers. We have created and designed new concepts in flowers, utilizing different shaped petals, bases and stamens, with no two flowers the same.

The record was based on weight so each flower had a solid chocolate base to try and build up the weight criteria.   We start with a solid sphere or egg and then create and form the petals individually with a knife or spatula by dipping it into tempered chocolate and curve them before they fully set.

Once set we then dip each petal individually in tempered chocolate before attaching it to the base. Once the flower is complete we then colour the completed bloom with tempered and coloured cocoa butter often shading the flower with different colours.   Chocolate Flower

Then we come back to transportation.

19 individual trips to the Melbourne Exhibition centre feeling every bump and poorly maintained road along the way. A few casualties but the majority of the flowers made it in one piece.

Once the event was all over, we gave away all the chocolate flowers on display to the audience. How any of them managed to carry these extremely fragile flowers home in the 28 degree heat, I’ll never know!

The best part of this process is that Savour now has a whole botanical library of new flowers to incorporate into our hands-on chocolate flowers class at Savour Chocolate & Patisserie School or in our online classes. With events like this all the Savour staff put in that little bit extra, in particular Paul Kennedy. In the process we force ourselves to grow as pastry chefs and learn and adopt new techniques. Paul Kennedy - Savour Chocolate & Patisserie School

Here are the amazing facts and figures from the world record attempt:

  • The final weight of Callebaut couverture chocolate used in the display was 308.133kg.
  • The final length of the chocolate bouquet was 9 metres and the width was 1.8 metres.
  • $6162.66 in Callebaut couverture was used to create the bouquet
  • 131 individual chocolate flowers
  • 9750 petals
  • 82 chocolate twigs
  • 33 Butterflies
  • 2 ferns
  • 7 bunches of reeds
  • Over 100 leaves
  • Total of 10 contributors
  • 1,500 hours of combined labour