17 WORLD CHOCOLATE MASTERS FINALIST GERMANY
INTERVIEW WITH MARTIN STUDENY
How was it to win the German National Selection?
“For me, winning the German National Selection was a very important goal. But I’m not there yet. Winning the World chocolate Masters Final would be an even bigger accomplishment, call it a pastry life goal.
The World chocolate Masters is the last big competition I want to compete in. That’s the reason I don’t want to make my creations any less than perfect. I’ve been competing in different pastry competitions all over the world for over 14 years. No better way to bring this journey to a close than by participating in the World chocolate Masters. If I win this, one of my ultimate life goals would be accomplished.”
How are you preparing for the finals?
“I’ve got my own pastry shop. There, I prepare myself by constantly trying out new things: new types of pralines, exciting flavour combinations and once every month I make a new showpiece. I always try to experiment with different themes in my creations. To do so, I get a lot of help and input from other chefs. It’s always interesting to see things from a different perspective.”
“In the final hour of the German National Selection, a part of my showpiece broke and fell onto the ground. For a moment I panicked. I thought the competition was over for me. And to be honest: it turned out even better than my original design.”
“Throughout the entire preparation process, I like to work with designers. This collaboration is undeniably important, as we both come up with interesting ideas and give each other honest feedback. It would be wrong to simply go to a designer and ask him to design the perfect showpiece. The concept must come from both sides to create a powerful showpiece that really reflects your vision.”
What were the biggest challenges you faced during the German National Selections?
“Working in Germany is different from working in Austria. In the beginning, that change wasn’t easy at all. They use different kinds of machines, induction plates, ovens, … for me it was a real challenge to get used to all things new equipment. But I always managed to keep my head up and push forward. ”
What’s one of your biggest strengths as a chef?
“I easily adapt to changing situations. For example: in the final hour of the German National Selection, a part of my showpiece broke and fell onto the ground. For a moment, I slightly panicked. I thought the competition was over for me. But it only took me 10 seconds to get myself together. I quickly came up with a new idea to fix it. And to be honest: it turned out even better than my original design.”
How do you stay calm in situations like these?
“At that very moment I said to myself: “I’ve worked for this moment for 10 years, I can’t let this get in the way of reaching my goal.” You see, everybody can fall, but you always need to get back up. Don’t just stay there on the floor. Get up and move on. I wanted to make a great showpiece and show everybody that it could still complete my creation, despite what just happened. That’s my biggest motivation.”
What’s the biggest change since winning the German National Selection?
“Definitely the attention I’m getting right now. I’ve received a lot of publicity in both Germany and in Austria. Ever since I won, people come up to me and tell me they recognize me from the newspaper and social media. I also received a lot of e-mails and messages. I really try to respond to all of them, but it’s hard!”
“I’m not trying to make a showpiece that’s just better. I’m going for something that’s completely new and never seen before.”
How do you prepare your creations? Where do you find the inspiration?
“The first step is to clearly line-up all the rules to make sure your creations meet the official demands. The second step is to start brainstorming on the theme, which was “Futropolis”. I try to fully immerse myself in this futuristic setting.
Then I start doing my research. I’m a big fan of Asian cuisine, that’s where I draw a lot of my inspiration from. I like to mix French pastry with a modern Asian cuisine. I’m constantly looking for the golden formula, the key to make award-winning pastry.
For my showpiece, I looked up creations from previous World Chocolate Masters finalists to see which techniques they used. I always keep in mind that I’m not trying to make a showpiece that’s just better. I’m going for something that’s completely new and never seen before. That’s probably the most difficult part.”
Do you have a planning up until the finals?
“In October, I will be participating in another competition. When that’s over, I will be fully focusing on my preparations for the World Chocolate Masters finals. That’s because I also want to consider the other finalists and have look at their winning creations. Based on their winning creations, I try to read their ideas, techniques, strengths and weaknesses.”
World Chocolate Masters is also about finding your unique creative signature in chocolate and pastries. How would you describe your style?
“I would describe my style as very technical because I put a lot of different techniques into my showpiece. I aim to create new and innovative desserts by making them unique and well … a little bit crazy too.
When it comes to flavours, I like to be influenced by modern Asian cuisine. Here in Austria we’ve got very traditional pastry, but not in my pastry shop. I prefer to add new flavours and ingredients to my creations. It’s more like Austria with a touch of Asia.”