By Maria Moya
Brussels, Nov 17 (efe-epa).- “Depth and personality” are the two essential qualities sought after by Belgian master chocolatier Pierre Marcolini, who brings sustainability and ethics to the “savoir faire” of Belgium’s storied chocolate tradition, elements which he believes were key to him being recognized as the “Best pastry chef in the world”.
Marcolini won the award by the World Pastry Stars 2020 last month, which he says arrived at a key moment: “with the current climate of the Covid pandemic, these are hard, difficult times, but this has given us some light and clarity, and that is good”, the master chocolatier tells Efe in an interview.
This is a prize awarded, he points out, “for your career, for the vision you have of pastry making and what it is going to be in the 21st century” because, according to Marcolini, today’s pastry making speaks “of how we want to be, of how we want to make our chocolate, it speaks of taste”, but also “there are ethics” and this, in his opinion, has been a fundamental value to being named the best in the world.
“Today, we bakers are committed to reducing the amount of sugar, removing some of the alcohol, working with local products instead of having butter that comes from who knows where, or using a sustainable flour,” he says.
This is the prevailing trend, he says: a bakery that is increasingly aware, responsible “and with a vision of the future”, which rejects the plantations where there might be child labor. “Today in the world there are more than 2 million children working in cocoa plantations (…) people look the other way, but it is a reality,” he says.
COCOA WITH DEPTH
His hallmark is chocolate with depth: “I really like it when I have finished chewing the chocolate and it accompanies me”, the pastry chef explains, “when the persistence of the taste remains in the mouth”.
For the master chocolatier, good chocolate has personality, “like the one we make”, “with well-selected cocoa”, which uses “the minimum amount of sugar and, above all, lengthens it enormously in the mouth”. “I can’t give away all the secrets”, the renowned Belgian confectioner says jokingly.
His know-how has been honed during his 25-year career, although his passion for pastry making began much earlier. “When I was 9 or 10 years old, I had already changed my toys, my fire engine, my police car, my plane… for desserts”, says Marcolini, who adds that at the age of 14 he had already decided to make it his profession.
“And now I live my passion. I’m happy about it, I love the world of candy,” he says.
That boy probably never imagined that his chocolate would be enjoyed not only in Belgium but also in Japan and China, passing through France, the United Kingdom, Dubai, Hawaii, Luxembourg and Germany, countries where the Belgian businessman has opened branches.
He arrived in Tokyo without “a financial plan or a strategy”, but when he had the opportunity to open in Japan, the main obstacle to overcome was the transportation process, which was precisely what served as a springboard for the world.
“We are capable of having an exceptional quality, with a process that allows us to move it to 10,000 kilometers,” Marcolini points out, “so we began to grow”.
A UNIVERSAL PRODUCT
Chocolate is “a universal product”: “In Spain, in Europe, in Belgium it is part of our history” and yet, in other places where the tradition is not as deeply rooted, once in the mouth “it is the same process, their faces light up”, says the confectioner.
But his work, he insists, is not simple, and the whole process passes through his hands, from the seed to the final mouthful.
“The cocoa seeds are part of my profession, but so are the nuts, the almonds, the walnuts from Piedmont in Italy”, the master chocolatier explains, emphasizing that, in addition to trying to extract “the maximum aroma” from the cocoa bean, his job is “also to get the most out of what nature gives us”.
In addition, the creation process culminates with the most inventive part, a visual work with the pieces that is captured in different collections and that generates an added pressure: “we have clients that are very demanding, that every year ask ‘Come on, Pierre, what will it be this year'”, Marcolini says.
HOPE AMID COVID GLOOM