They make beautiful desserts day after day and sculpt spectacular flowers like lilies from sugar or chocolate to craft cakes for special occasions according to the requests of guests. While during the evenings they create wonderful fine-dining desserts, with the beginning of a new season, our patisserie team is working harder than ever to dream up perfect desserts for the upcoming seasonal menu. We were talking with Baraka’s talented pastry chefs – Andrej Ivetic, who became a confectioner ‘by chance’, and Zsuzsi Ötvös, who left her academic career in codicology to become a pastry chef.
What is the first step in the process of creating a new dessert?
Andrej: Maybe this sounds unusual, but I build my concepts based on appearance. My desserts are inspired by impressions about colors, textures, and shapes, but at the beginning I always have the vision of the plate that I want to create.
Zsuzsi: First, I always plan the main flavours of a new dessert in harmony with the upcoming season – I usually build a dessert around three main flavours. The next task is for me to find the balance of these leading flavours and to connect them with textures on the plate. At this point I have the elements for my dessert – crunchy, foamy, airy, soft, liquid, hot or cold – containing the main flavours. Planning the appearance of the actual dessert on the plate is the very last step in my creative process. Perhaps I test even three or four different versions to find the one that fits best the season and the elements previously designed for the plate.
How do you see the difference of your personality during the work?
Zsuzsi: Well, while the à la carte desserts reflect our precise teamwork, to reach finely crafted results, out work at the beginning is usually done separately. He starts working on his visions on his own, and so do I. When we think that a dessert is ready, we plate it for each other first. We give feedback on each other’s new desserts and possibly also suggest minor modifications in certain elements or regarding plating. These are the last touches on the finished dessert.
Andrej: I like to pay attention to seasonal colors and seasonal shapes, which plays a part in the taste collection in the seasonal fruits and flavors, combined with the Asian theme and everything. Let’s say it’s not a very easy process. I confirm what Zsuzsi is saying, we truly collect each other. We always discuss what we like to see, feel, and imagine on the plate. For the upcoming season, in one dessert I’d like to put real autumn sensations to the plates. Flavors, colors, smells, shapes, associations, childhood memories, tales, as evocative as can be. It’s part of our art, the way we could rethink and create feelings and transcribe them to the language of fine dining. It’s thousands and thousands of layers that I create. Making cakes for special occasions is different; by its nature, it always starts with the guest. For these occasions we like to create something special that represents the guest.
Do you use any special favorite ingredients, flavors, textures?
Andrej: I don’t, I like everything. The focus always depends on the season, and what kind of presentation is desired.
Zsuzsi: I tend to focus on a certain ingredient for a shorter or longer period, when I test this ingredient in different flavor combinations and in different textures – crumbles, mousse, ice cream, macaron or tart shells etc. In this creative process I learn a lot about this ingredient, I notice how it behaves in certain combinations and textures and acquire a stable knowledge and experience on handling this flavor. This is how we learn in our profession: through experimenting.