Trompe l’oeil, jewels, symphonies, plunges into taste … Alessandro Dalmasso’s pastry plays with the senses and emotions, condensing his boundless know-how into miniature creations. There is no oxymoron in his recently published “Grande Piccola Pasticceria”. We had a talk with a Master who prefers workshops to spotlights and who never stopped studying in order to grow.
How did the painting course you attended early in your career influence your approach to pastry?
It certainly affected the final result, in an unconscious way. Out of passion for my work, I aimed at integrating a different decorative part. In concrete terms, it reinforced some bases on the technicality of color, but the fundamental thing is that it forced me to have no constraints. A project must be freely conceived and then modeled on the productive reality. Any form of art can invade and complete the pastry.
What does the Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie mean to you, given the long association that binds you to it? What was it like going from competitor, to technical director, to President of Club Italia?
I have experienced different emotions, but all of them will remain forever impressed in my memory as special moments. Making yourself available to a team of colleagues is an experience that all professionals should have. An unconditional give-and-take for a single project, like this one of the Club, to make Italian pastry stand out in the world and build the credibility of the Italian system, without vanity or self-centeredness. Time and experience give us the tools to be able to advance in our daily roles, but I admit, as President, I feel mildly envious of the team that is running for the Coupe. The lure of healthy competition in me fortunately never fades.
For your famous bignoline you recommend the use of a static oven. What suggestions could you give to those who use a convection oven?
The challenge is always alive in a professional, especially with oneself. I am working a lot on this issue. The use of the static oven is recommended to have a smooth cream puff on the surface without the use of a cover that would facilitate the outcome. Currently, with my Rotor Wind convection oven with rotating rack I am having great satisfaction and I can easily reach the top-quality pastry level.
Energy efficiency and waste reduction are fundamental values for us. We ask you to explain to us the precautions you take to deal with this particularly delicate issue in a high-precision profession like yours.
When I buy equipment for my laboratory, I don’t look at the estimates only for the cost, but I try to evaluate consumption and I tend not to take oversized machinery for my current production. Even if the forecasts are optimistic, it makes no sense to run a machine at half-regime 11 months a year, and then send it into maximum production for only 1 month. On balance, one month’s overtime is better than 11 months waste.
The history of the evolution of pastry over the centuries and the personal history of your family seem to be a vital source of inspiration for you. How do you manage to transform taste into an unforgettable memory in your work?
I try to never leave anything to chance or improvisation, as one can see by just glancing at the variety of my mignons. An enhancement of the ingredients of the territory, together with the craftsmanship in condensing flavors into pleasant forms, allows the customer to choose between tastes similar to his and therefore to appreciate the experience. The challenge lies in always expressing the best in every single product, to create a shock in the tasting memory. The situation in which we consume our dessert is also fundamental: a particular mood or occasion can give different inputs to our brain, which will judge the dessert in the end.
Your experiences abroad have certainly widened your professional vision. Do you use km 0 products for your pastry shop or do you also resort to ‘exotic’ ingredients?
The exclusive use of km 0 is not possible for those who want to offer a wide range of products to their customers. In every part of the world there are ingredients for confectionery that can surprise us. Without a doubt, the culture of food is part of the history of every country. The professionals who travel and taste new ingredients can choose how to respectfully bring them back to their country and offer them to their customers. It is important to strike a balance that can be positively accepted. Fusion cuisine embodies this principle.