G.F.: Has being a chef always been a childhood dream or is this something you developed an interest in as you were growing up?
D.J.: My family always had connections to the catering industry somehow. As a child, I was often exposed to the food market or the kitchen. I wouldn’t say I was seriously interested in being a chef, I just became one.
G.F.: So how did you get into patisserie? And can you explain what ‘Plate Dessert’ is, as I am sure, many of us haven’t heard of it before.
D.J.: I got interested in patisserie and confectionery when I was in high school. I noticed just how artistic some cakes can be, that it is possible to create a work of art – even if that piece of art is only short-lived.
Plate dessert, as its name suggests, is a light and sweet dish that is presented on a plate at the end of a meal.
G.F.: Just like any other professions, yours is also evolving and improving continually but we don’t get an in-depth insight into these changes. To us ‘Plated Dessert’ just simply means a dessert and nothing more. What distinguishes plate desserts from ordinary desserts?
D.J.: Our aim is to use different elements and ingredients, creating a unique combination of tastes, colours and shapes and to display it all in a very tasteful and fashionable way on a plate. We can express our artistic sides, the possibilities are endless. Fashion is also present in the catering industry with its colours, trends and designs – just like it is present in other aspects of our lives.
Think about a piece of painting by an artist that carries its own signature style that can be recognised as the style of that particular artist. It is the same in our profession. A pastry chef can also develop a style over the years that can be recognised when his or her work is presented on a plate, for example a particular shape or colour is used over and over, which gives it a unique characteristic or design.
G.F.: When you first stumbled across patisserie, what attracted you to it? Why did you make that change from being a chef to becoming a pastry chef or patissier?
D.J.: Most importantly, there was no stress or pressure involved. To create, we need a calm environment, which is impossible to achieve when you are working as a chef in a busy kitchen. I think catering profession is the best and the hardest at the same time. Many times our personal values get damaged as we try to fit into its hierarchy and move up the ladder.
G.F.: Furthermore, you fell in love with the world of desserts and now you compiled all your knowledge and experience about it in a book that was first published in Hungary in 2017. Is the concept of ‘plated desserts’ not widespread in Hungary yet or do you think there was not enough literature available on the subject?
D.J.: I was very fortunate because with this book I was able to fill a gap and this has proved to be successful. I have now followers from training schools to workplaces, people who are keen to learn about my craftsmanship. In fact, I have been asked to hold training courses and classes for other professionals, and most recently, I started to run classes across Europe as well.
G.F.: Your book has been available in German for a while, and it also has been quite successful. Was this your motivation to release it in English too? Making your book available in these languages brought your techniques closer to a much wider audience, meaning that more people are able to learn your skills.
D.J.: That’s right. I have been working with one of the largest publishers in Austria and just the other day, I struck a deal with a large German publisher too but that’s not the end of it! My aim is to introduce the concept designer desserts further afield, to the best of my abilities, whilst also ensuring continuous development.
G.F.: Who do you recommend your book to? Is it for other professionals only or would you recommend it to brave novices too?
D.J.: I think I can reach out to a wide variety of people, so I would recommend it to anybody. Whether you are a professional chef or just somebody who enjoys being creative in the kitchen, I believe people can find inspiration from the pages of my book.
G.F.: You share a lot of recipies with you readers. There is a teaching element in the book that shows a variety of new techniques to the readers?
D.J.: Of course, one of the most important things is to set the foundations for our style based on knowledge and techniques. These little tricks of the trade I use are very important and they make dessert presentation so interesting and beautiful, which is why I included many such tricks in my book.
G.F.: Plated desserts are very colourful and the making of them requires very refined techniques. One needs a lot of imagination and creativity to present these fabulous designer items. Where do you get your inspiration from?
D.J.: I get ideas from within and, just as any other professional chef or baker, I also get inspiration from nature or other areas, which give rise to new concepts and ideas. I also experiment quite a lot, always looking for new forms or combinations.
For example, this interesting bubbles dessert came about when I was trying to achieve a light and airy look, hence the reason for a cloud-like shape. I also wanted to ensure that the ingredients are kept light too, so allowing pistachio cream to lightly flow around a brownie was the perfect choice.
G.F.: I only have two issues with desserts; first and foremost, they should not include too many artificial ingredients or E numbers. The other is, as I have experienced in many restaurants, sometimes chefs go overboard with the sugar, which can result in an uncomfortable sensation in my throat. How important it is for you to pay attention to these when you prepare desserts?
D.J.: Desserts that I make tend to be mostly made with natural ingredients, although sometimes I use artificial food colouring – who doesn’t these days? Unfortunately, today all foodstuffs, including fruit and vegetable contain artificial ingredients that were not around a 100 years ago.
Coming back to desserts, the current trend is to ensure that desserts are not too heavy for the customer, so it is easy to digest. I make lighter versions of desserts, for example, instead of using heavy margarine based creams, I use lighter alternatives. This is far easier on the person who has just completed a full meal.
G.F.: I was blown away by your book because there were so many beautiful and tasty looking creations presented in it, I wanted to try them all! Where can interested potential customers try your designer or Plate Desserts?
D.J.: Obviously you can try any of my desserts in the classes I hold. I haven’t got a Patisserie shop yet; however, that is still a possibility in the future.
G.F.: I really hope that all the hard work and dedication you have put into this will soon pay off and I wish you all the best for the future.
Translater: Mariann Kolev