How did you become a pastry chef?
When I was 14 I used to cook with my sister and my Mum at home, and my Grandma would make lunch every Sunday for the whole family – that’s where I believe my love of cooking began. I was born in Brazil but my Mum’s family were Italian, so I learned a lot of Italian food from my Grandma. Since then I knew I wanted to work in a kitchen so went on to study Gastronomy at age 18 followed by an apprenticeship in a hotel. The idea was to work through all sections of the kitchen, but in the second month I went to pastry and I never left! It caught my attention due to how precise it was, and something just clicked. In pastry there is almost no limit on what you can do, but it all comes down to precision and refinement to get the final result. I love that you have to create everything from scratch and organisation is the key to success. In the main kitchen there is more flexibility, you are free to season as you want , but in pastry it’s all about exact precision.
Describe a typical day in the pastry kitchen…
You can rely on early morning starts, but after that there’s not much routine! The day starts with making fresh dough for the kitchen, from doughnuts to cornbread, and then it’s on to mise en place (preparing dishes and ingredients before the beginning of service) along with taking care of any events that may be happening. Every day is a new surprise as my team are involved in so many different pieces – in one dish on the menu there may be 7 or 8 components, so a constant eye on what needs to be prepared is crucial, whilst responding to bespoke requests from guests. I’ve seen plenty things! We recently created a Formula 1 inspired Mercedes cake for a special 18th, and hid a ring inside a dessert for a proposal…There’s a never a dull day in the pastry kitchen!
What do you enjoy most about living in Edinburgh?
I moved to Edinburgh from London where I was for 5 years, and had worked with Jonny (Head Chef, Gleneagles Townhouse). I had always wanted to move to Scotland so it was a very happy coincidence that an opportunity came up and Jonny called me to get involved. I love living in Edinburgh for it’s proximity to the countryside whilst still living in the city. Waking up every morning to this beautiful city and walking amongst incredible architecture on my way to work, was something I quickly fell in love with. The city also has such a vibrant food scene with great restaurants, bakeries and bars to enjoy. I particularly enjoy The Palmerstone in the West End for nice pastries! It’s been a busy time since moving here this year and opening Townhouse but I’m looking forward to exploring more.
What projects are you excited about working on at Townhouse?
In a general sense I’m excited about working with seasonal Scottish ingredients, from Scottish strawberries (the best in the world in my opinion!) to an amazing array of Scottish cheese for our dessert trolley. It is brilliant to have such incredible produce on our doorstep in Scotland, so sourcing local really does mean using the best. The dessert trolley is an expression of flavours of the season in a choose-as-you-wish format, from desserts to cheese, to petit fours – there’s something for everyone. This season I’m using local blackberries, honey produced by Edinburgh Honey Co. and a variety of our favourite Glen & Co products.
Christmas season is a very special time at Gleneagles and Gleneagles Townhouse. My team love putting in the extra attention to detail to create lasting memories for guests and families staying and dining with us. It’s a time when the pastry kitchen’s creativity knows no bounds, for Christmas 2022 we are creating a huge gingerbread house, and next year just watch this space!
What do you enjoy most about your role?
Working alongside my team. One person by themselves can’t achieve anything. It’s a magic energy that we have in the team to create this level of food and at this volume. You can feel it when you go into the pastry kitchen, its’a great environment and the team behind it all are bringing the same level of precision, expertise and positivity to the kitchen every day. I feel very blessed to have such a lovely, talented team.
What are your top tips for any budding pastry cooks at home?
As a general approach, remember there can never be too much attention to detail! Don’t get frustrated if something doesn’t go exactly to plan – think flexibly and focus on learning the right techniques. Lastly, presentation can always elevate anything you are making.
If you weren’t a Pastry Chef, what would you do?
I would be an engineer, I love precision, organisation and making things from scratch. When I was finishing school I considered an engineering route but I decided to follow my dreams. I thought ‘what can I do for the rest of my life that I wouldn’t regret and would do with pleasure every day?’ So I followed my gut in the direction of being a chef and as soon as I met pastry it introduced me to a whole new world that I never wanted to leave.