Ettore Beligni – Italian Pastry Chef
Ettore Beligni, Italian Pastry Chef – “We all make mistakes, but the important thing is to solve them with a clear mind.” He currently works at the The Fat Duck and creates award-winning pralines.
Today you are working as a Chef de Partie in Pastry at “The Fat Duck”. How did all start? What drove you to become a chef?
Everything was born very naturally, when I was 14 years-old I already had my little experiences thanks to my parents who have always been part of the restaurant industry. I am passionate about cooking in general and a few years later I understood that it was my calling.
It was very hard at first, especially when my friends went to have fun and I could not join them. Immediately I was fascinated by the fine dining atmosphere, which was much less mainstream, now I find myself in a position that I would never have thought i would be in and I am proud to have reached it step by step.
Which cooking school did you attend at the beginning of your chef career?
I attended the hotel and culinary institute of “Chianciano Terme” for two years, this was one of the most important hotel and culinary institutes in Italy. But at that time I was not brought to the studio, I preferred to work immediately. Shortly thereafter I also attended courses and private schools including L’Ecole D’Alain Ducasse in Paris.
Why did you choose pastry as your specialty? What fascinates you about the work of the pastry chef?
I must say, that it has only been two and a half years that I have devoted myself exclusively to pastry, it has always been a passion, but if I am here now I owe it to Gaetano Trovato Chef of the Arnolfo restaurant 2 star Michelin and Relais and Chateaux, in which I was given immediate and total responsibility for the pastry section. I took this on very happily, because I believe that the catering of pastry is pure craftsmanship without any creative boundaries.
Since 2014 you have worked as a pastry chef already in 3 different Michelin Star restaurants. You started at a 1, then 2 and now 3-star Michelin restaurant. It seems the stars are not putting you under pressure?
Absolutely not, in these environments the pressures are the order of the day, you learn to live with it and above all to manage it with experience and familiarity, but of course every season I go to a new place and everything is different and to settle in for first periods is not easy. You have to get to know everything before you can handle the pressure.
Surely, now I manage the problems of when I started much better. We all make mistakes, but the important thing is to solve them with a clear mind, not like many chefs who just come across a problem and lose their minds.
In your current job as a pastry chef – how often is the pastry menu changed?
Currently at the fat duck they have a menu with some historical dishes of Heston Blumental, sometimes they are replaced according to a very rigorous development process with a lot of attention regarding the customer. In my previous experiences we changed the dessert menu according to the seasons, all the dishes were replaced.
Where do you get your inspiration for new creations from?
I want to clarify that here at the Fat Duck I do not serve my dishes, as I explained above there is a development that can last even a year behind a plate, and I’m here only a month, but I hope in the future to be able to work further.
Despite this I always find a way to create something, I am inspired by music, nature and also the great masters of this craft. I get new ideas spontaneously and I try not to strain things that I do not have clear in my head.
Which new trends do you currently see in pastry?
I notice that the latest trends are very marked on aesthetics, but also on flavors and especially on the most meticulous use of fats and sugars.
In 2018 you were the Italian winner of the C3 chocolate chef competition. Congratulations! What was your winning work/creation?
Thank you very much, very kind! In the competition I brought a praline with “combawa” and a dessert to the plate, combining both the exotic fruit of Madagascar with the Valrhona chocolate Manjari 64%.
How would you describe your culinary line as a Pastry chef today?
At this moment, I am coming from a very educational experience in the restaurant industry, in which I gained a lot of inspiration. Soon I would like to work in a pastry laboratory to further refine my style.
Regional, seasonal and a close relation to the producer becomes more and more essential for chefs: does this apply as well for pastry chefs?
The excellence of a regions products is important to enhance even in confectionery, but above all to use them in the best period of the year.
Can you share your latest creation/speciality of your pastry chef work?
I worked and I’m working on a very special praline, I’ll show you soon. I’m also working a lot on the final of the c3 Valrhona … but that’s top secret.
If you could choose a country in the world to take a pastry chef job for some time, where would it be?
I would like to gain experience in a tropical place … where it’s summer all year.
Thank you very much, Ettore!
Chef Ettore knows: Passion is crucial to being a great chef.
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