Diego Lozano – Horeca School – Romania 2016

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I’m the kind of person to hold on to ideas until they somehow become reality. And I’ve been going back and forth with the idea of inviting a foreign chef to Romania for quite some time now. Talking to Cristina, the founder of Horeca School, led to a step that I thought it was almost impossible at the time: let’s do it! Let’s give it a try she said! And it was enough for me!

What started as a mere idea or wish, turned into reality as I contacted Diego Lozano, asking him about a possible masterclass in Romania, the first one of this kind in this country. I didn’t expect an answer to be honest, I thought it will be days, weeks until we get a response, but I guess I was wrong as Diego answered back in a matter of hours saying that he has 2017 almost fully booked, but he has a few available days in november 2016. I couldn’t believe it! 2016?! Really?!?! We jumped in the bandwagon right away so the email with the confirmation was sent and the airplane tickets were booked! I mean, seriously, how often one gets a chance like this?!

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I’m not going to lie! I walked into this based only on intuition, I had no idea what a masterclass meant, how much work, how many hours of labor or how long the days would become. I was happy that he agreed (let alone answer my emails, doh!) and worried that I had no idea how I was going to pull this out! I thought that he might be fussy, that he might be difficult to get along with; long story short, I had no idea what to expect from a chef of his level. I could see he was one of the most creative, professional pastry chefs out there, but in terms of his character and way of being, I was blind! Days, weeks passed by though and we picked him up from the airport only to discover a very relaxed, easy going, chilled out person who did all he could to get the two events we had planned go well. He is a great pastry chef and an amazing human being and for that I will be forever grateful! We could have not picked a better pastry chef for our first ever masterclass!

We planned two events in Romania: a chocolate demo for a few hours and a masterclass for 3 days. And nothing really ever prepared me for what these two events meant! Not necessarily in terms of work, but in terms of being professional, in terms of creativity, challenges, friendship, help, being human and kind or having fun while doing the work as best as you can, in terms of enjoying what you do and doing it with so much love and passion that it becomes addictive!

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The Chocolate Art Show was an event focusing on chocolate and only chocolate – how to temper quick and easy, how to make bonbons and some delicious bonbon fillings or how to build a chocolate showpiece! It was an event for about 20 people,  thought more like a demo and less like an workshop. The techniques Diego taught and the recipes he shared were meant to cover an initiate road into the world of chocolate, one that he walks on for many years now, being completed by the title of World Chocolate Master in Brasil and finalist during Salon du Chocolat by Callebaut in Paris one year ago. He speaks so fondly about chocolate that you can never get bored listening! The stories surrounding his chocolate showpiece from Salon du Chocolat were deligthful to listen to: 2 years of work, hundreds of kilograms of chocolate used this entire time and so much passion and team effort that the whole experience ended up being a huge accomplishment for him and the team he works with!

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It is the Chocolate Demo that allowed me to spend two days filling the shoes of his assistant/translator prior to the demo, helping him out with the construction of the house and tree. And by helping I mean melting loads of chocolate and washing tons of dishes, together with the rest of the people at our school. It was a team effort and he surely pushed us all over our limits! But that’s precisely what I enjoyed the most – the challenge, watching him work and trying to understand his state of mind while building the showpiece, trying to read through the lines while talking to him, asking questions and being mesmerized by the answers. It’s been some of the best days I’ve ever had in a pastry kitchen!

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One of the first things I wanted to know was how he started in this craft and the answer was quick and confident enough: he was a kid when he started cooking as a way of helping out his mum with the chores of the house but soon enough he tried baking and loved the process behind it all. That’s how it all started! He knew from a very early age what he wants to do and he pursued this dream with an opened heart and a motivated mind until what he is today – a well-known, respected pastry chef who travels the world teaching people the secrets of this craft, a pastry trotter as he puts it. He admits all this travelling is tiresome, but the rush and adrenaline and meeting new people, combined with loving what he does, make it all too enjoyable to do anything else! In order to keep up with this always-on-the-go life, he has a pretty strict diet, doesn’t drink or go out, doesn’t smoke, always trying to stay focused on what he does, never losing his temper or patience. He admits indulging on some of his favorite desserts from time to time though, Opera and Mont-Blanc being two of the ones he loves most. He loves sarmale (Romanian dish) and we made him try some rachiu (Romanian drink) as well, he finds Romanian music a bit weird and he’s been to a proper Romanian wedding just for the fun of the experience!

He’s been travelling around the world with classes for about 3 years now, but he says pastry is all he’s ever wanted to do, it’s what brings him fulfillment. And it’s this passion that made him open a pastry school in Brasil, the first one of the kind in the country. He says that a showpiece can be an idea that comes to you in half an hour, but what happens next is the challenging part: building it. For the World Chocolate Masters Salon du Chocolate by Callebaut piece he worked two years and he made over 300 versions of the human until he was happy with it, using over 60kg of chocolate just for the final piece, without counting the hundreds of kilograms used for practicing. Now that’s a lot of chocolate and an impressive determination to reach perfection!

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He’s a great teacher and one of the most patient and fun pastry chefs I’ve ever known! The things I learnt the last couple of days are invaluable and I don’t mean just techniques or the way he works, but also the way he looks at his work, the way he treasures the hours spent for a piece, the confidence he has, the time he takes to explain things, the patience he displays when you’re doing a mistake (and oh boy, I’ve made plenty! Sorry, Diego 😀 ). Every single thing was a lesson that I needed to be reminded of!

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The masterclass on the other hand was even more challenging! Three days of baking, freezing, cleaning, tempering, glazing, decorating, paying attention to details or translating were definitely not easy, but oh boy, it was so enjoyable! The rush and adrenaline were a little bit addictive to say the least and I somehow missed it once it was over! He warned me that usually the first masterclass day is the most difficult one because that’s when he bakes the biscuits, makes the mousses and molds pretty much all the cakes, but not even he was ready for a day like that! Because we were left without power for 3 hours in the first day! Yes, the power went off only to come back almost 3 hours later! His worst nightmare was all of a sudden coming reality. On the bright side of things though, due to this, he will never forget Romania (not that we ever wanted to be reminded of as the country where the power goes off in the middle of the masterclass, but we’ll take that for now)!

The products he made for the masterclass were divine! I’m not one to be easily impressed by new tastes – I’ve tried quite a lot and never back down from weird mixes of flavors, but I surely didn’t expect to find my all-time favorite cake among the ones he made. Coffee, walnuts and praline plus the perfect mousse, the best ever texture and the subtle flavor made Coffee the cake I loved the most, the only cake I wished it was never over!

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Coffee

Now let’s do a quick recap of the two events we hosted: over 40kg of chocolate ordered (most of it used), gallons of heavy cream whipped, hours and hours spent preparing the ingredients, days spent weighting them all and arranging them in boxes, lots of laughter and fun, plenty of chocolate stains on pretty much everything I wore these few days, new friends made, new challenged accepted. Yes, we made mistakes, yes, it could have been better, but you know what?! It was the best thing I was part of this year! So thank you, Diego, for accepting out invite, for being that patient with us, for helping out and giving advice, for being kind and funny, for eating sarmale and listening to Romanian music, for being yourself and letting us do the same! It sure was an experience that we will never forget! I cannot wait until our paths will cross again! (Next year, right?!)

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ROMANIAN

Diego Lozano – Masterclass Romania 2016

Sunt genul de persoana care nu renunta cu una cu doua la o idee, imi place sa-mi duc planurile la bun sfarsit, iar gandul de a invita un cofetar strain la Horeca School ma bantuia de ceva timp. O discutie cu Cristina, fondatoarea scolii Horeca, pe aceasta tema a dus la o finalizare a acestui gand intr-un mod extrem de neasteptat: hai sa o facem! Hai sa-l invitam, mi-a spus! Dintr-o data aceasta idee devenea un proiect al intregii scoli!

Ce a pornit ca o simpla, timida idee, a devenit curand realitate prin contactarea lui Diego Lozano. I-am trimis un mesaj pe Instagram si sa fiu sincera nici nu asteptam un raspuns imediat, eram doar unul dintre sutele de mii de followeri. Dar cateva ore mai tarziu am primit un raspuns detaliat in care imi spunea ca 2017 e full, dar ca are cateva zile disponibile in 2016. Nu mi-a venit sa cred! Cat de norocosi sa fim sa gasim cateva zile disponibile chiar in 2016, aproximativ doua luni mai tarziu fata de ziua la care il contactasem?! Raspunsul pozitiv a fost trimis si biletele de avion rezervate! Nici prin cap nu-mi trecea atunci ce va insemna acest lucru pentru mine, ca individ, si pentru Horeca School la institutie de formare profesionala!

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Nu va mint! Am pornit pe drumul asta bazandu-ma doar pe intuitie, nu aveam idee ce inseamna un masterclass, nimeni de la scoala nu stia de altfel, cate ore de lucru se vor aduna sau cat timp vom petrece la scoala cantarind ingrediente ori organizand evenimentul. Eram insa fericita ca a acceptat invitatia si cumva ingrijorata pentru ca nu stiam incotro sa o apuc, ce sa fac. Dar mai ales, nu stiam la ce sa ma astept din partea lui. Se vedea clar ca e un profesionist, un om extrem de creativ, dar nu aveam nicio idee despre caracterul lui, despre felul lui de a fi. Ori asta era un lucru destul de important in relatia noastra cu el, dar mai ales a viitorilor cursanti. Zilele, saptamanile au trecut repede insa si l-am luat de la aeroport doar pentru a descoperi un om extrem de degajat, relaxat, un om cu care intri in discutie foarte usor si gasesti imediat subiecte de dezbatut, un om care vorbeste o multime de limbi straine si care intelege partial limba romana (prin filiera italiana si spaniola), un om care din prima zi ne-a ajutat cu sfaturi despre cum sa ne organizam mai bine, cum sa facem sa fim cat mai eficienti, un om care a facut tot ce i-a stat in puteri ca cele doua evenimente sa mearga ca unse!

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Am organizat doua evenimente Diego Lozano in Romania: Chocolate Art Show – demo interactiv despre ciocolata si Masterclass – un curs intensiv de trei zile. Dar nimic nu avea sa ma pregateasca pentru ce avea sa urmeze, nu neaparat din punct de vedere al muncii depuse, ci mai degraba facand referire la profesionalismul lui, la creativitate, prietenie, provocari, ajutor (a lui si a multor altor persoane pe care le voi nominaliza la finalul acestui articol pentru ca merita!), la a-ti face munca cat mai bine si la a o face cu drag si pasiune, la a te bucura de fiecare moment in parte! Au fost cateva zile de neuitat!

Chocolate Art Show a fost un eveniment ce s-a concentrat asupra ciocolatei, asupra lucrului cu acest ingredient minunat – temperare, bomboane, umpluturi si o piesa decorativa din ciocolata 100% la care s-a muncit doua zile inainte de eveniment. Si cand spun muncit ma refer la toata lumea de la scoala – toti am ajutat cu ceva, fie ca a fost vorba de topit ciocolata, fie ca a fost vorba de spalat vase ori cantarit ingrediente! A fost munca de echipa la cel mai inalt nivel! Acest eveniment a fost gandit ca un demo interactiv si s-a si desfasurat ca atare, motiv pentru care participantii au putut sa-i adreseze intrebari, l-au ajutat in realizarea unor bomboane si au luat parte la finisarea piesei de ciocolata. Tehnicile pe care le-a predat si retetele pe care le-a impartasit au fost menite sa acopere o Initiere in lumea ciocolatei, sa fie un inceput de drum pe care de altfel el il strabate de ani buni, totul culminand cu participarea la World Chocolate Masters in cadrul Salon du Chocolat by Callebaut, numarandu-se printre finalisti in 2015. Ar trebui sa-l auziti cum vorbeste despre ciocolata! E minunat sa vezi si sa asculti un om vorbind despre pasiunea lui cu atata drag, chiar si dupa atata timp de cand o practica! Doar ca sa va faceti o idee, trebuie sa va spun ca piesa de ciocolata de la World Chocolate Masters a fost suma a doi ani intregi de munca si incercari, au existat peste 300 de sculpturi de incercare inainte de piesa finala si s-au folosit sute de kilograme de ciocolata pentru aceste incercari. Nu e de mirare ca aceasta participare este una dintre marile sale realizari! Provocarile au fost imense, dar le-a depasit, ajutat fiind de echipa lui!

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Datorita acestui demo am reusit sa petrec doua zile in compania lui, ajutandu-l cu tot ce a avut nevoie in materie de munca si traducand. Sunt fericita ca am reusit sa pun umarul macar putin la constructia acelei piese de ciocolata! A fost insa extrem de interesant sa observi felul in care isi gandeste si organizeaza cursul, felul in care isi aranjeaza ingredientele, modul in care percepe o piesa de asemenea avengura, pasiunea pe care o pune in realizarea ei, felul in care ii sclipesc ochii cand rezultatul final arata exact asa cum si l-a imaginat. Mi-a permis insa sa-l si intreb una-alta, sa aflu detalii despre cariera lui, sa inteleg tehnici de care nu eram prea increzatoare ori sigura, sa capat experienta si mai ales incredere.

Cred ca primul lucru pe care l-am intrebat a fost cum si-a descoperit aceasta pasiune, care au fost primii pasi in cofetarie, o intrebare previzibila de altfel, dar definitorie pentru intelegerea istoriei unui astfel de profesionist! Raspunsul a venit repede: era un copil cand a inceput sa gateasca ca o modalitate de a-si ajuta mama singura cu treburile casei dar si-a dat seama ca ii place enorm sa coaca prajituri, adorand procesul tehnologic din spatele fiecarei retete. Asadar a stiut de la o varsta frageda ce vrea sa faca si si-a urmat visul cu determinare si pasiune pana astazi cand este unul dintre cei mai cunoscuti cofetari, un om respectat nu doar de colegi ci si de oameni din intreaga lume unde calatoreste luna de luna pentru a organiza masterclass-uri cu simplul scop de a impartasi din experienta lui cu ceilalti. Recunoaste ca e obositor sa calatoresti atat de mult (a zburat aprope 2 zile doar ca sa ajunga in Romania si inca doua sa se intoarca in Brazilia), dar adrenalina si placerea intalnirii cu oameni care au aceeasi pasiune si care ii inteleg determinarea plus daruirea pentru aceasta meserie/arta merita din plin! Pentru a tine pasul cu acest ritm de viata insa, are o dieta stricta si merge la sala, nu bea, nu fumeaza si se odihneste cat poate de mult, incercand sa stea mereu concentrat pe ceea ce are de facut, incercand sa fie atent la fiecare detaliu, fara a-si pierde temperamentul ori calmul. De fapt, sa fiu sincera nu cred ca am intalnit cofetar mai rabdator si mai calm ca el pana acum! Desi nu mananca desert prea des, recunoaste ca nu se poate abtine de la o felie de Opera ori Mont-Blanc, acestea fiind doua dintre prajiturile sale preferate. Ii plac mult sarmalele si i-am dat sa guste pana si rachiu, gaseste muzica romaneasca putin ciudata si a fost pana si la un restaurant cu muzica romaneasca doar de dragul experientei si amuzamentului!

Se fac mai bine de 3 ani de cand calatoreste in jurul lumii pentru a preda cursuri, e obositor, dar spune ca doar in cofetarie se regaseste, e ceea ce ii aduce implinire, asa ca o face cu placere. Are o scoala de cofetarie in Brazilia de care se ocupa fratele lui, de asemenea cofetar, atunci cand el este plecat. Escola de Confeitaria a fost prima scoala de acest gen din Brazilia si se mandreste cu faptul ca sute de cursanti le trec anual pragul. Admite ca Brazilia si Romania seamana mult la acest capitol daca nu cumva Romania este cu un pas inainte in ceea ce priveste deschiderea si dorinta oamenilor de a invata, de a se pune la punct cu noi tehnici de lucru, de a avea curajul sa incerce combinatii de ingrediente indraznete.

Spune ca ideea unei piese de ciocolata poate sa ia viata pe hartie in jumatate de ora, dar partea cea mai grea este punerea in practica. Pentru piesa pe care a prezentat-o la Salon du Chocolat by Callebaut a lucrat doi ani doar pentru a rafina ideea si a sculptat mai bine de 300 de oameni in ciocolata pana a ajuns la un rezultat care i-a placut, folosind sute de kilograme de ciocolata in tot acest timp. Piesa finala a avut aproximativ 60kg, chiar si cele mai mici detalii fiind facute din ciocolata.

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E un profesor extraordinar si unul dintre putinii oamenii pe care ii stiu inarmati cu o rabdare de fier! Ce am invatat zilele acestea e de neegalat si nu ma refer doar la tehnica impecabila pe care o afiseaza ori la felul in care se organizeaza si tine cursurile, dar fac referire si la felul in care se pierde in munca, uitand sa mai manance adesea, increderea pe care o are, timpul pe care si-l ia pentru a explica cum trebuie ceva si calmul pe care ti-l insufla chiar si in cele mai tensionate momente ori cand faci greseli (pff si am facut destul, credeti-ma!). Toate aceste lucruri reprezinta o lectie pentru care sunt recunoascatoare!

Si daca la ciocolata a fost greu, masterclass-ul le-a intrecut pe toate! Trei zile de copt, congelat, curatat, temperat, glazurat, decorat, tradus si atentie sporita la detalii nu au fost usoare, asta-i clar, dar a fost atat de frumos! Adrenalina si tot ce s-a intamplat ne-au tinut in priza in continuu incat cele trei zile au trecut ca vantul! La final ramasesem toti cu un zambet larg pentru ca s-a incheiat cu bine si cu un sentiment dulce-amar ca s-a terminat parca prea repede! Ma avertizase ca va fi greu, mai ales in prima zi de masterclass, imi spusese ca oamenii care il ajuta pe parcursul unui astfel de curs duc greul in prima zi, pe ei e presiunea cea mai mare, dar noi chiar nu eram pregatiti pentru ce avea sa se intample! Si ma refer aici strict la faptul ca tocmai in prima zi de curs, cu blaturile in cuptor, Enel s-a hotarat sa se joace la butoane si sa ne lase fara curent aproape 3 ore. Un cosmar devenit realitate, din pacate! Ne-am descurcat onorabil insa, muncind peste programul stabilit ca sa recuperam orele pierdute.

Produsele realizate pentru masterclass au fost mi-nu-na-te! Si nu o spun doar eu, ci si pozele pe care le tot vad pe Facebook de atunci – cursanti care fac din retete. Cat despre mine, cu tristete va spun ca nu am apucat sa gust decat dintr-un singur tort, dar a fost poate cel mai bun tort mancat vreodata! Nu sunt un om usor de impresionat, am gustat o multime de prajituri, am facut si mai multe, dar acest tort cu mousse de nuci si cafea si blat cu nuci a fost de o deliciosenie rara si o textura de pe alta lume! Ne spusese inainte ca acesta este preferatul lui si gustand din el, am inteles de ce. Literalmente imi doream ca felia aceea sa nu se mai termine vreodata!

In incheiere, hai sa facem o scurta recapitulare a celor doua evenimente: peste 40kg de ciocolata comandata si folosita, litri intregi de smantana pentru frisca, kilograme de zahar si oua, glucoza, zahar invertit, lapte condensat, nenumarate ghivece de busuioc, dar mai presus de toate, prietenii legate, munca productiva, distractie, noi provocari, limite depasite. Da, am facut greseli, da, se putea si mai bine, dar stiti ce?! A fost cel mai frumos eveniment la care am luat parte anul acesta (daca nu cumva intreaga mea cariera!). Asa ca iti multumesc, Diego, ca ai acceptat invitatia Horeca School, ca ai avut rabdare monumentala cu noi, ca ne-ai ajutat cu sfaturi si ne-ai sprijinit cand a fost nevoie, ca ai fost si un bun profesionist si un om extraordinar, ca ai mancat sarmale si ne-ai lasat sa-ti punem Trandafir de la Moldova, ca ai fost tu insuti si ne-ai permis si noua sa fim la fel! Suntem convinsi ca nu am fi putut alege un om mai bun pentru a organiza primul nostru Masterclass! Si suntem siguri ca anul viitor va fi mult mai bine!

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Tin sa multumesc in mod expres doamnei Cristina van der Schaaf pentru ca a sustinut aceasta idee nebuneasca cu tot ce i-a stat in puteri, sunteti in ochii nostri o adevarata Wonder Woman, v-ati zbatut ca nimeni alta ca acest curs sa iasa bine si sa avem tot ce ne trebuie la indemana! Iti multumesc, Nisrin, pentru intreaga organizare, nu am fi reusit fara tine! Multumesc, Cristi, pentru tot ajutorul, nu doar de la Masterclass ci si in restul timpului! Multumesc celor trei fete care au raspuns apelului meu: Nico, Cristina si Geanina – fara voi nu cred ca terminam la timp mis-en-place si nu am fi reusit sa eficientizam spatiul si timpul mai bine! Multumesc Ionela Stoica (Pupile Gustative) pentru aceste poze minunate! Multumesc Grace Couture Cakes pentru ca ne-ati pus la dispozitie spatiul necesar desfasurarii acestui Masterclass! Multumesc din suflet si colaboratorilor nostri care au raspuns solicitarilor mele chiar si pe ultima suta de metri: Casiro Expert, Microgreens Romaniawww.desertonline.ro, www.azariafood.ro, www.marathon.com.ro. Fara voi acest eveniment nu ar fi fost posibil!

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Cu zambetul pe buze chiar si dupa o zi de munca plina!

 

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