Jacopo Bruni, executive pastry chef London Edition
Jacopo Bruni, the Executive Pastry Chef from the London EDITION hotel has moved to London from Italy to find new challenges. After he conquers London, he will be moving to Shanghai. Get to know his exciting story and a view of an Italian pastry chef in London on the pastry world in Britain.
Where did it all start? How did you fall in love with cooking, pastry and chocolate?
My love for pastry work is based on my love for pastry - I have always had a sweet tooth. I learnt the theory as well as technique during my studies at ALMA, the International school of the Italian cuisine, during the Master of the Italian Cuisine under mentorship of Massimiliano Alajmo instead I’ve learnt the philosophy behind a dish.
This was followed by work experience at the Regina Adelaide hotel where I was lucky to work with the chef Andrea Constantini who taught me respect and working ethics.
This was also one of the most important experiences for me - I learnt a lot about the chocolate decorations, truffles, tempering and bonbons. Even if I was there only for a stage, I was mentored by the chef and sous chef who taught me with books and their personal advice. The first book they gave me was by Robuchon. I fell in love with it and spent weeks studying it and trying out the recipes. From that moment on I contacted them anytime I needed advice and still today we are in touch weekly.
You started working in Italy and then moved to London. Why this decision? And what do you see as the biggest differences between the pastry world in Italy and UK?
Italian cuisine is based on flavours, while the French is focused on the technique.
In London there is a great influence of the French cuisine - probably because France is closer to UK. So also pastry in the London hotels is mostly French.
In Italy, I worked in Parma, at the Michelin starred restaurant Inkiostro and the hotel where the restaurant is located. In Parma there were only 3 Michelin starred restaurants and only one luxury hotel. So with my wife we decided to move to Venice to work at some great hotels, but not many pastry chef positions were available - pastry teams in Italy are much smaller than in London, so it was very hard finding work. For this reason we decided to move to London where you could find all the great names like Ducasse, Blumenthal, Jason Atherton, Helen Darroze, Pierre Garnier and where there are many luxury hotels and many new openings. We sent our CVs and everybody answered. So I managed to enter into Connaught and to become the Head Pastry Chef first at the Baglioni and now at the London EDITION.
What do you like best about your work?
Transforming a simple idea into something concrete and tangible is art. But going further in transforming that idea into something concrete and full of flavour is for me more than art.
Eating something beautiful, eating somebody’s creation and making it become a part of you is a very unique level of expression. Imagine being able to touch your favourite painting and taste it! A dessert involves all the senses: sight, taste, touch, sound and mind. It is an incredible work which requires practically religious dedication. Results are not only professional, but also personal.
If you are hungry you will order a savoury dish, not a dessert. Dessert is ordered as an act of celebration or a reward because you deserve it or because you want to pamper somebody. Desserts are more related to the emotions than to stomach.
What about your relation to chocolate?
Chocolate is an ingredient with an incredible story behind it, and when, after all the working phases and so many hands, it arrives to us, it requires greatest respect and care than any other ingredient. I love the nuances that I am able to give creating the shadows and imperfections over the fruit skins, the architecture of flavour that offers so many diverse tasting notes that sometimes it seems like using different ingredients.
Which of your desserts which are now on the menu represent you best?
We are right now working on the Feast Menu which will include sharing desserts. We would like to create an atmosphere of the family dinners. With Christmas just around the corner, we want to create a big Christmas feast that was always part of the English family traditions. We are preparing a big Trifle, a Christmas pudding and a Yule Log.
With Cacao Barry Zephyr Caramel and Cacao Barry Venezuela72% I am recreating a tree trunk with a Swiss roll hidden within. Every slice has this way the horizontal as well as vertical structure. Also other chocolate producers have something similar as Cacao Barry’s Zephyr Caramel within their collection, but what is so unique about the Cacao Barry’s product is that the caramel flavour isn’t overly sweet and tiresome, but maintains its flavour beautifully.
In our Yule log we are combining it with yuzu, orange, mandarin and Cacao Barry Venezuela 72% playfully combining sweet, bitter, salty and sour in the same slice of cake.
Where do you find the inspiration for your work?
Everywhere! Any idea can be transformed into a dish and transformed into an emotion or memory.
What would your ideal dessert look like?
It has to be simple, yet complex. Like every true beauty.
It has to be composed from a wealth of flavours and textures which develop when we eat.
It has to amaze, evoke memories and become something to remember one day.
It has to make us happy and shut up all our other thoughts.
It has to become a moment per se, a moment of pleasure.
How do you see the desserts of the future?
I believe the future is 3D printers. I was chatting with Salvatore Martone, Executive Pastry Chef of Robuchon in Las Vegas and even he is doing experiments with this new method. I have visited a few showrooms here in London and this new technology has unlimited possibilities and is not that expensive anymore.
I’ve seen sculptures in sugar and chocolate which would be impossible to create just with our own hands. I believe that not far in the future every pastry team will need somebody who is capable of using 3D printers.
Do you have any golden dreams?
In March I am moving to Shanghai to open the Shanghai EDITION.
Our brand is dedicated to personalisation of our products with ingredients and recipes of the territory to create a very unique experience for each client.
It is a great challenge, a great growth and a great dream that I am going to make come true together with my wife and partner.