Co-curating the Guinness World Records-listed most expensive limited edition chocolate, Fabelle Trinity – Truffles Extraordinaire, Michelin Star Chef Philippe Conticini is credited for numerous innovations over the past three decades, the most popular one being the verrines way back in 1994, which display dishes vertically in transparent glass. At the unveiling event of Fabelle Trinity at ITC Grand Central Mumbai, Chef Conticini spoke with Akshay Nayak about his journey in the culinary world
It all started with his parents who inspired him the most to join the culinary world, reminisces Chef Conticini. “My mother had been a great cook. I wanted to try pastry when I was just 11 years old. Often on Sundays, I started making pastry which was liked by many. With time passing, I told my parents that I am going to open a restaurant with my brother. It came from a long time. I didn’t decide then that I was going to pursue cooking or pastry,” he exuded.
Having started it at a tender age, Chef Conticini faced many challenges during his initial stints. “My career began by cooking, but in the back of my mind, I always wanted to do pastry. I stopped cooking after a year-long stint and started doing pastry when I was just 18 years old. For two years, I went under vigorous practice for pastry. However, when I started pursuing pastry, I felt challenged by my creativity. Also, my weight did come as a hurdle while pursuing my career in culinary arts,” expressed Chef Conticini.
However, Chef Conticini has always been accepting a challenge as an opportunity in disguise. “I began to prepare pastry professionally in 1986. Very quickly, my pastry evoked more emotion. In 1992, I realised that something was amiss in my creation. It wasn’t the contents, but the presentation that lacked creativity. Two years later, on one fine evening, I asked the bar fellow to get me a wine glass for I had an idea to present my desserts vertically. I exclaimed, ‘Wow! I found my baby.’ I knew that this style of presentation is going to be a sensation across the world, which did. Since then, there has been no looking back in terms of the innovations that I have brought to my creations.”
As a Michelin Star Chef, he keeps questioning his ways of creation time and again. Also, in his work, he believes to be deeply contemporary. It’s not because he wants just the presentation to be top-notch, but the content of the work that needs to be contemporary. “It was I myself who thought of being modern, and my pastry followed me,” he added.
Chef Conticini has already written 23 books. His Pâtisserie des Rêves branded patisserie is celebrated in the US, UK and majorly in Japan too. “We will be opening our new outlet in Tokyo followed by one in Kyoto after Christmas this year,” he informed about the expansion plans. At the beginning of October, he opened three outlets in Paris and has scheduled one more to be opened post-Christmas there. He will be unveiling another book in September next year, in which he will be focusing on the various techniques of preparing pastry that he has learned over the last 30 years.
As a takeaway point for the aspiring chefs, according to Chef Conticini, the most important thing in pastry is to keep learning and learning and never stopping for it makes one master in their career. “Also, they must discover who they are what they will be,” he concluded.