Antonino Maresca, pastry consultant
Antonino Maresca was born in Sorrento, on the beautiful Italian coast where he fell in love with pastry and started his career. Extremely humble and reserved, he never put himself into the limelight, but was working and learning hard to become one of the best Italian pastry chefs. I was lucky to be able to enjoy his pastries in the two Michelin starred restaurant Il Mosaico on the island of Ischia where he worked together with the executive chef Nino Di Costanzo. What a spectacle for all the senses! One year ago Antonino left Il Mosaico to continue his career as pastry consultant and not long ago he moved to UK to expand internationaly. I am looking forward to seeing his wonderful creations also in the UK.
Photo: Courtesy of Antonino Maresca
How did you enter into the pastry world?
Somehow out of curiosity … Desserts were a gift offered by my parents every Sunday when we managed to get all together at the table. So I wanted to understand how the desserts create that incredible energy which gives so much joy and pleasure.
What is inspiring you?
I am constantly inspired by the desire to offer to people wonderful moments to remember.
What do you love best about your work?
I enjoy understanding different cultures, stories, traditions which make me create new things and use unique ingredients.
Dessert Gabrielle. Photo: Janez Puksic
What do you think is most difficult to master?
I think the hardest thing is finding the right balance in a recipe. I am not talking about a mathematical balance but about being able to create the right equilibrium with each single element.
What is your greatest achievement?
If I may call this success, it’s about having fun with my work. Making different elements come alive in a small oasis of pleasure.
What is your secret desire/ambition?
It’s all about the continuous research for better and better desserts. I want to create sweet moments which put out of context some of the beliefs – like using for desserts ingredients which are normally not used in a sweet context or to show that a dessert doesn’t need to be served exclusively at the end of a meal.
And your ultimate dream?
To succeed in making my guests’ eyes shine after eating one of my desserts. To make them become children again and to transport them for a few moments into another world. To see them smile and being happy also because of the magic a dessert can create.
What are your favourite flavours?
Pure distinct flavours, straight when we taste them, which are able to evoke emotions and make the moments unforgettable. A good dark chocolate is one such example.
Photo: Janez Puksic
What is your relationship with chocolate?
My love for chocolate is excessive. It’s an ingredient which requires a mental break. Its perfume, texture and flavour are creating unique sensations and a desire to find unusual and unexpected combinations.
Which is your favourite Cacao Barry chocolate and why?
Venezuela. I love the rich strong cacao notes and I especially love it because it combines perfectly with two other ingredients that I love: the Lapsang Souchong tea and bergamot.
Which dessert is your favourite?
The Sacher tart is one of them. I love its simplicity and impetuousness at the same time. An added value is enjoying it in the Sacher hotel in Vienna.
Dessert Napul’è. Photo: Janez Puksic
And what about the desserts created by you?
My favourite dessert is for sure Napul’è, my indulgent representation of a wonderful but at the same time problematic city. A dessert which is trying to reinterpret the traditions in a contemporary way by re-examing the Campania’s classics and representing some symbols of Naples. The added value is the possibility to listen at the same time to the song by the great singer Pino Daniele which fully describes this magical city.
What was the best chocolate dessert that you have eaten and where?
A soft chocolate cake with kaffir lime in a restaurant of a famous hotel in Lisbon and the chocolate praline with soya and yuzu of the great Ramon Morato which I had the pleasure to enjoy in London.
What would be your final message for our readers?
Gift yourself with beautiful moments enjoying high quality desserts with a “violent joy” as described by Proust when he was enjoying a small Madeleine.