Allow Yourself To Be Influenced

“Surround yourself with people you can learn and develop from, who you want to emulate and who you want to become,” – eugenia Polyviou, my mother and the most influential person in my career to date.

the Sydney Pastry Club was never designed to highlight superstars, nor was it designed to generate a competitive edge. Rather, its aim is to bring like-minded pastry chefs together to share skill, knowledge and above all, passion.

It was set up by elerig Liguet who works with deshel foods and has been fostered by Fabien at the Park hyatt, who has since set abroad. today, I’m essentially the club’s chairwoman. It has opened a number of doors for those involved, including job opportunities and has even garnered a two-page spread in Good Living. however, the best thing about the Sydney Pastry Club is the people who attend. I admire all of them; their skills, their stories and their wicked personalities. the original team includes:

• “The Godfather” of pastry Jean Michel Raynaud – the French man at Baroque whose vocal and honest opinion on macarons has got him into trouble with the press. his flavours and skill alone make him stand out from the crowd.

• “Bad boy” John Ralley who makes mind-blowing sugar and outstanding desserts.

• “The kitchen boys” from InterContinental hotel Sydney, tamas Parmer and Julien Pouteau – amazing chefs with a great profile. We always said we weren’t going to have any kitchen boys in the club, but the creative side of this pair is exemplary, particularly when designing themed desserts.

• “Kickboxer” confectionery queen Jessica Pedemont – Jess has racked up an enviable amount of travel and her knowledge of consulting and demonstrations is an excellent resource. Best of all, she always shows up with a bubbly personality and a smile.

• “Cute French man” Yves Scherrer from Ananas restaurant and Saki restaurant around the Rocks, is a new face. he surrounds himself with pastry chefs so he can better his skills and he is visibly getting better and better every day as a result.

• “Tommy boy” Tom Mitchell is such a nice, humble australian guy who is forever saying good things about adriano Zumbo – the man who gave him the valuable opportunity to be his head pastry chef for around two-to-three years.

• “Blackstar vegan-style” Christopher Thé and Samuel Yeo always bring a different dimension with interesting flavours. the organic-savvy pair make rustic treats, including watermelon cakes, that always generate a queue out the door.

• “Mafioso” Pino Locantro who, when wound up about Papas having the best-baked ricotta cheesecake, sent a driver to my work with cheesecakes for the entire staff. the cheesecake did not disappoint and his reputation ensued.

this year we kicked-off the Sydney Pastry Club at Gelato Messina. denato toce and the team are so generous with their knowledge and product. It must be working in their favour, because Messina’s ice cream often boasts a line out the door and around the corner.

the ice cream cakes are designed to be mind-blowing. as well as being fun, the products have a twist to them. the classes run on Saturdays and include a demonstration, along with tastings and a tub of your choice to take home. Priced at $120 a session, this is truly value for money. Not surprisingly, all classes for 2013 are already sold out. I went to Gelato Messina with a mate and after the session it’s safe to say she became my best friend! Never had anyone seemed so excited by ice cream!

Like the rest of the Sydney Pastry Club, I want to strengthen our pastry industry. there is no need to put others down, rather we can learn so much by respecting shared knowledge. different people have different training, so let’s take the best parts of everyone’s creative side and open our minds to learn from each other.

the idea you may miss out on an opportunity because you’ve recommended someone, or given out a recipe, is ill-conceived. I believe good Karma follows pastry chefs. a lot of us would be lying if we said we weren’t media-hungry, however I can safely say I have witnessed some amazing acts of humility in my time.

I respect and encourage humble behaviour. For this reason the following people have had a mention at the Sydney Pastry Club: my beautiful girlfriend Casey hardaker, Callebaut Chocolate’s Gary Willis, pastry chef dean Gibson and Savour Chocolate and Patisserie School’s Kirsten tibballs. I look forward to learning many more lessons in the pastry club’s get-togethers.

We are in a cutting-edge industry whose leaders are constantly trying to better themselves and to boost australia’s reputation for world-class baking and desserts. So do as my wise mother said and, “surround yourself with people you can learn and develop from, who you want to be and who you want to become”.


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