Hot on the heels of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2019 awards, I was fortunate enough to attend a masterclass by the man who was voted Asia’s Best Pastry Chef 2019, sponsored by Valrhona.
Fabrizio Fiorani, as you might gather from the name, is as Italian as they come. However, his work at Il Ristorante Luca Fantin at Bulgari Hotel Tokyo over the past six years is what has garnered him the coveted title of “Asia’s Best”.
The masterclass, which was hosted at CIAK – In the Kitchen and sponsored by Acqua Panna, allowed us to sample Chef Fiorani’s desserts while experiencing first-hand the amount of creativity and thought that goes into each and every one of his creations.
We were also pleasantly surprised to find out that this mad scientist is actually as sweet as his desserts, with a wacky sense of humour that left everyone at the masterclass in stitches.
Once the class was over and my belly was full of delectable sweet treats, I sat down with Chef Fiorani to chat about his career and undying love of pastry.
Precision is perfection in Chef Fiorani’s pastry making
You probably get asked this all the time, but how did your love of pastry making begin?
During summer holidays, I used to work in a small gelateria near Roma, since I was 14. I started to work with chocolate, fresh cream, and I started to love it. I finished school and started baking. After that, I only wanted to work in a great restaurant, but if you ask me to make pasta with tomato... I cannot do it.
So you never considered becoming any other type of chef?
No, of course not! I cannot! I only know this. I can talk... but I can only talk about pastry [laughs].
What is it that you love so much about pastry making?
I love to eat sweet things. I love the precision. One gram is one gram; it’s not two. There is no such thing as a pinch of salt – it’s three grams! It’s the way.
Belize-inspired chocolate discs, coated in gold dust
Do you follow those rules when making your desserts? Do you ever freestyle your recipes?
No, no, no! You know, I bring my own scale from Italy. I believe only in my scale. I scale everything from the water to the salt, butter, everything. The creativity is in the presentation, but the technique needs to be strong and precise.
What happens if you don’t follow the recipe?
It’s like in life. If you make a mistake with someone – maybe not now, maybe not tomorrow – it will come back. Everything comes back to you. The same with pastry – if you do everything correctly, but you want to add “a pinch” of something, in the end it’s not perfect.
Do you ever get sick of eating sweet things?
I prefer savoury food, but I cannot resist a wonderful tiramisu. But of course I love lasagne, sushi... but at the end, if it’s nice, I will eat dessert. If it’s sh*t, I would prefer a slice of watermelon.
Fabrizio Fiorani’s signature Tiramisu Glasses
What food is your guilty pleasure, once you start eating it you can’t stop?
Bread, butter and anchovy. Unbelievable – it’s dangerous. Or basil with tomato, mozzarella and olive oil. It’s a classic.
What brought you to Asia?
I worked at three-Michelin-starred La Pergola for 10 years in Roma. The chef, Heinz Beck, opened two new restaurants in Tokyo, and I went there for him. After a year and a half, I moved to Bulgari for four years, and two months ago, I finished there. Now, I’m back in Roma, but at least once a month I’m in Asia.
Were you sad to leave Asia?
I’m a true Italian. I was always going to go back. Everything in Asia is too organised. Sometimes in life we need to break the rules – I mean a little; I don’t want to kill nobody [laughs]. After five years, it’s time to come back [to Italy]. For my girlfriend, my family. Life is not only pastry. A lot of people say, My life is food. My life is also food. Also pastry. But to create these kind of desserts and [to come up with] the idea behind, my life cannot only just be pastry.
Chef Fiorani’s stunning three-layer raspberry dessert
Have you had the chance to try any local restaurants or Hong Kong desserts while you’ve been here?
Yesterday I went to China Tang, ate a very beautiful mango sago dessert. I also had a beautiful dinner at The Mira hotel [Cuisine Cuisine], very beautiful Cantonese food.
How has the title “Asia’s Best Pastry Chef” changed things for you?
Some people start to say hello to me; before they don’t. It’s only a title; my idea of pastry is the same. It will be the same next year. But it’s important for me and the team. Last year I worked 306 days. I took 21 flights. It was very emotional for somebody to say, You are the best. A big prize was also when 50 Best asked me to talk in the 50 Best Talks along with chefs like Massimo Bottura. But, in the end, I work for the customer, not the prize. Not the fame or the Instagram – although it’s the best business tool – I work for the taste.
Chef Fiorani speaking about the significance of sugar in the 50 Best Talks presented by Miele
For more on Fabrizio Fiorani’s desserts, watch our video:
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