Experiencing the joy of Lorenzo Sollecito’s cakes and chocolates, you would think this had been his life-long path, but his initial time working in pastry was supposed to be a mere six months on his path to become an executive chef. While doing the photo shoot for Exquisite Taste’s front cover, we talked to him about his passion for the sweetness in life.
E: What made you decide to become a pastry chef?
Lorenzo: I had never thought of specialising in pastry and was working my way up the ladder in hot kitchens to become an executive chef. I had been working in Milan for several years and was with Bvlgari Hotels when I decided that I needed some pastry skills. At that time, my cooking and organisation skills were good, but I lacked creativity.
Four Seasons Hotel Firenze was at the pre-opening stage and was looking to fill a very junior position at its Michelin-starred Il Palagio. Although this was several steps below my current position, I decided to take it for six months for the experience. Little did I realise that this was going to be my actual future. With Executive Pastry Chef Domenico di Clemente as my mentor, I found my happy place, my creativity and never left pastry.
E: How is being a pastry chef different for you?
L: In the kitchen, they are more instinctive, working on the spot. In pastry, I have to think six months ahead and plan concepts so that we can stay ahead of the game and anticipate special occasions. For example, in August, we are already finalising Christmas concepts, and this carries on through the year with Chinese New Year, Lebaran, Valentine’s Day and so on. We are always challenging ourselves to do better than last year, to be more impressive and more memorable.
Especially these days, cakes and desserts always need to be eye-catching and to have a story behind them; this is what brings people in. I find inspiration from art, nature, history, culture, but it’s also easy to see what is happening in Paris, New York, Mumbai. But on top of this, you have to get the taste right so that people will come back.
E: What is the most important principle when it comes to baking?
L: I truly believe that you must love what you are doing and be proud of what you are creating, otherwise how can you expect other people to like it? When you love what you are doing, it is easy to pay extra attention to the details and to put in the hard work, so you can serve something that looks beautiful and tastes fantastic with a great combination of flavours. That is the essence of this job.
E: If you could have only one dessert or cake for the rest of your life, what it would be?
L: My answer is classic Italian – my mama’s dessert! I know it’s not very original, but it’s true. There are a lot of apples in my village and my mother always made apple strudel for the family, but she’d make it after dinner, so it would be ready about 11pm for the next day’s lunch. When my brothers and I went out drinking, we’d be hungry when we got home and the strudel was so tempting that we would eat a piece, then one more, until it was gone. After a while, she started making two, so that there would still be one for lunch. It is as much about those memories as it is the apple strudel itself.
BERRIES & CHANTILLY
Fresh Mixed Berries
- 120g raspberries
- 120g blueberries
- 200g strawberries
- 150g blackberries
- 100g semi-whipped cream
- 1g gelatine leaf
- 330g fresh milk
- 50g sugar
- 70g egg yolk
- 26g cornstarch
- 25g butter
- 1 vanilla bean
- Put the vanilla bean in the milk and heat to 50C, then chill overnight.
- Lightly whisk cornstarch, egg yolk and sugar, then add to the milk and gently heat while stirring.
- Once boiling, cook for 3 minutes, continuing to stir.
- Remove from the heat and add the gelatine, previously soaked in ice water, blend well. Heat the custard to 30C and add soft butter. Blend again.
- Using a spatula, add the semi-whipped cream to the custard and mix until smooth and fluffy.
- Chill overnight.
- 80g raspberry coulis
- 9g sugar
Gently bring raspberry coulis to the boil, add sugar and stir over a low heat for 3 minutes. Strain and chill overnight.
Graham Cracker Crumble
- 38g butter
- 4g sugar
- 10g brown sugar
- 4g honey
- 2g molasses
- 44g cake flour
- 0.2g salt
- 0.2g cinnamon
- 0.5g baking soda
- Mix all the ingredients together and chill overnight.
- Grate into medium chunks and bake until golden at 168C.
Basil Yogurt Gelato
- 120g fresh milk
- 60g sugar
- 10g glucose powder
- 130g Greek yogurt
- 12g fresh basilico Genovese
- 2g gelato stabiliser
- Mix stabiliser with some of the sugar.
- Warm fresh milk to 35C, then add sugar and glucose powder. Once the mixture reaches 62C, add the stabilizer and keep cooking until it reaches 78C. Cool in an ice bucket.
- Once the mixture reaches below 20C, add the yogurt and mix well.
- Put the mixture into a pacojet container with the washed basilico leaf. Freeze overnight.
- Once frozen, process twice with the pacojet.
- Keep the ice cream at -16C.
- 50g glucose
- 125g sugar
- 25g toasted sliced almonds
- Heat sugar and glucose up to 165C, then add the toasted almonds and cook for 30 seconds.
- Pour the caramel almond mixture onto a silicone baking mat and let it dry at room temperature.
- Once hard, powder in a blender.
- Create round shapes with the powder, 1mm thick.
- Bake in the oven at 170C for 5 minutes.
- Edible flowers
- Gold leaf
- Basil leaf
- Using an 8cm ring cutter, pipe the vanilla Chantilly on the internal edge, making a circle.
- In the middle, place a generous spoon of graham cracker crumble, then place mixed smashed berries on top with some raspberry coulis.
- Place the berries around the Chantilly and decorate with edible flowers and a small basil leaf.
- Place the almond tuille on top, then top that with a quenelle of basil yogurt gelato.
Four Seasons Hotel Jakarta
Jalan Jenderal Gatot Subroto, Kuningan
Jakarta 12710, Indonesia
T: (+62) 2122771888
Exquisite Taste March – May 2020