Andreas Acherer, the master of pastry from South Tyrol
Andreas Acherer is still young and yet he has managed to launch himself amongst the best patissiers in Italy. He believes that his success is a result of his deep love for his work and the great support of his family and team. His love for chocolate and his mastery has also resulted in the honour of becoming one of the Cacao Barry Ambassadors.
Where does your story begin?
Everything started in the kindergarden. Already at 4 years old I was drawing pastry chefs with a crown on their head. For me, they were kings. My grandfather was a baker and owned a bakery. Sadly he died five days after my birth, so I was not able to learn from him directly. But I probably inherited his passion and talent.
You went to study pastry in Vienna. How was that experience?
After high school graduation I moved to Vienna to study pastry. This was a very big and challenging step for me which later proved the best possible decision. I concluded my studies as planned, and whilst there I also met the most important person in my life and I have adopted some of the Viennese mentality which includes questioning everything instead of being easily satisfied. Vienna is a wonderful city - very inspiring and always moving.
Who was your best tutor and what was the most important lecture for you?
I couldn’t mention one person only. In my life I have met many people and I learnt from each of them - through positive and negative experiences. I was working for a Chef who every day thanked each of his colleagues and another Chef, who was treating everybody badly. I learned a lot from both.
What do you love best about your work?
The unlimited freedom of ideas, the endless search of new flavour combinations, new forms and textures, the sparkles in the eyes of children when they are looking at our pastries - all this makes my profession really special.
When you met Barbara, your wife, who is a florist, you decided to work together. Flowers and pastry - how do you inspire each other and how do you work together?
We met in Vienna. The idea about flowers and pastry was born in 2003. We wanted to create a space which would in our clients evoke a wonderful feeling of wellbeing through the harmony of flavours, perfumes and aesthetics. Our products are of an exceptional quality because we use the best ingredients. Barbara is in charge of the shop, the arrangements and of course flowers. I, on the other side, am in charge of production and once a week of our second shop in Bolzano. About inspiring each other: We are simply two people who walk through life with eyes wide open and get inspired by interesting things we see.
What else is inspiring you?
My pastry books and pastry magazines are a great source of inspiration. I could get lost in them for days.
What kind of desserts do you enjoy eating and what do you love creating best?
I enjoy all types of desserts. Those based on fruits as much as those based on chocolate or the creamy ones. I love also pralines, macarons and pastries. But there is something that I enjoy more than anything else: a great fresh croissant for breakfast. When the bakery starts smelling of freshly baked croissants, I simply can’t resist!
Creating the portion cakes with different kinds of mousse is something I enjoy doing best. Our pastry selection is very big and diverse. We have around 25 different pastries, some of them are our classics, but most of them change every 4-5 months. Depending on the season we work with different kinds of fruits and spices. Our clients love that.
How would you describe the style of your desserts and your ethics?
The visual impact is very important for every pastry shop, so we put a lot of attention on design, aesthetics, colour combination, arrangement in the display window … We also often use different edible petals as decoration on our entrements and petit gateaux.
Using the best ingredients with best pastry techniques and having a highly motivated and passionate team is of course essential. We need to engage our employees with enthusiasm so they can identify themselves with the company and the production. Communication, team spirit, friendship and helpfulness are some of our top values. Only a company with a healthy soul can create delicious products.
What was the best dessert you have ever eaten and where?
One of the best desserts I ever had was in Vienna at the restaurant of the celebrated chef Konstantin Filippou. It was a hazelnut foam sprinkled with a hard cheese. The combination of flavours and consistency were fabulous.
And what was your greatest success as a patissier?
I can’t talk about my success but only about our success. It is true that I am the head of the company and the one who is responsible, but nothing would happen without my team. We are still a young company, but we have had many successes - big and small and all are equally important. It is always a confirmation that we are doing the right thing, as well as a daily motivation to continue working hard. For me personally the greatest success is the fact that our shop concept proved itself as the right one.
Being accepted into Relais Desserts in 2012 was for me a great dream that came true. I really enjoy the exchange which happens this way with my colleagues. It allows me to learn from people like Pierre Herme, William Curley, Marc Ducobu, Jeff Oberweis and others.
Italian gourmet guide Gambero Rosso 2016 has rated our company as the third best pastry shop in Italy - right after Iginio Massari and with same number of points with Luigi Biasetto - putting us at the top of Italian pastry. It makes me proud and thankful - thankful first of all to my family and collaborators as well as my clients.
I never took part at competitions. I was never interested to spend months of preparation for a single event. My challenge is daily and it’s focused on my shop which I wish to keep on the highest levels.
What about chocolate? What do you love best about chocolate? What’s your favourite way to enjoy it?
I love chocolate! I love the perfume of melted couverture and to feel it with my hands. But at the same time - I am not a great chocolate eater, even if I eat a piece of it every day - I especially enjoy it in the evening after my dinner. Together with my daughters we often taste different chocolates. This became a part of our food culture which I am trying to transmit to them, especially since we always eat only the best chocolates. My favourites are chocolates with a high percentage of cacao from South America.
You are also a Cacao Barry Ambassador. Why Cacao Barry chocolate?
I have now been Cacao Barry Ambassador for 5 years. Cacao Barry is for me not only chocolate but also a family consisting of wonderful people who I know I can trust and who became my good friends. We meet, exchange knowledge and help each other. There are no secrets. Each of us is proud and would never dare to copy an idea. There are even more Ambassador meetings planned for the future. This is exciting! Of course there are moments when not everything runs smooth, but such situations make us even stronger.
Cacao Barry produces a fantastic chocolate. At the same time I was very happy to create also my own chocolate at the Cacao Barry’s Or Noir Lab using Cacao Barry’s raw materials. This was a very exciting project which allowed me to get a much deeper insight into the subject. After 3 days of hard work my own couverture “Ame Soeur” with 71% of cacao from Mexico, Equador and San Domingo was born. Strong perfume of the red fruits at the beginning developing into an intense cacao perfume is the typical characteristic of my chocolate.
Your perfect chocolate dessert would be ….
Dark high percentage chocolate, caramel and salt.
What about your dreams for the future?
I had and still have many dreams. My shop, the branch, retailers … I was always dreaming about that and worked hard to reach it. Another dream was building a new production space. More work space, more warehouse space, more space for ideas… I am just making it come true and in November our production is moving to the new space “Acherer LAB”. 800m² is allowing us to become even better and more flexible for our clients.
The most important things which allows me to do all this are health, a good functioning family and the support of the people who surround me. Under such conditions everything is possible.
And your advice for the young pastry chefs?
Our work is a matter of the heart. Listen to your gut, not your head. Don’t do it for money but follow your emotions. Only those who do it with all their heart, manage to reach the top.