Interview with Antonio Bachour – the Best Pastry Chef in the World, as awarded by the Best Chef Awards 2018! In one of his rare interviews, Chef Bachour talks about how he started, his vision in Pastry, what it takes to be a top Pastry Chef, his new shop & Academy in Miami and much more… Read below or watch the full video on Youtube!
Interview by MGA Greece!
You grew up in Puerto Rico and your interest in the field started at a very young age thanks to your family’s bakery. What made you switch to pastry?
My mother… She is a dessert lover. She makes dessert every day. I grew up in Puerto Rico, in my house I ate everyday sweets… She’s Lebanese, so I have in my blood a sweet corner, so I decided to be a Pastry Chef.
In your mid 20’s you decided to move all the way from your hometown to go to work in Miami. How was that experience for you?
It was great because it was a new start, a new city, new desserts, everything was new for me you need to change your style, to change mentality, you need to change everything to adapt to the market of the American people, but it was a very great experience for me.
Along the way you had some amazing achievements in your professional career, and let me just name a few: 2009 you were part of the opening team at the W South Beach Hotel, 2011 top 10 Pastry Chefs in America and finalist in the International Chef Congress Pastry Competition, 2012 Zest Awards for Baking and Pastry Innovator, 2013 Judge in the US Pastry Competition, 2018 Best Pastry Chef in the World by the Best Chef Awards. You clearly aim for the sky and you’ve reached it, so… what’s next??
For me, I don’t believe anything about that… Next is… still working becauseI have passion every day. I don’t care about awards or recognition, it’s anything about pastry… I have passion, every day I wake up doing something new to love my career. If tomorrow I wake up with no passion, with no love for this, I will quit! Next is, I will start making dessert like always, like every day. When I have no more love, I will quit.
What’s your vision in Pastry?
My vision in pastry is, first flavors… People need to taste something great also, Flavor, and WOW factor… For me, presentation needs to be WOW! When people get a dessert, I want people to get crazy about this dessert. I want people to say “WOW” this is great! When you taste it, or people taste it they’ll love it, because I know the flavor’s much better than how they look! Before I present one dessert to anybody, I need to taste like… 20 times, to make sure it’s good!
We’ve seen that you opened up a shop in Miami about two months ago. You’ve said in another interview that this was a life dream come true. Tell us a little bit about this…
Yes, I think that any Pastry Chef, at one time in their career want to be shop owners to own a pastry shop. For me it’s something that I always thought before to have a shop, to have my own lab, my own kitchen to do whatever I want. If you have the opportunity to have a pastry shop, that is amazing! I think the best recognition that you can have is that you have your own pastry shop.
What are some of your best selling pastries and desserts in the shop?
Some of the best selling pastries, viennoiserie, the croissant -that is the huge sell everyday-, also all the petit gateau, also we have bread, we have the lunch menu, I think everything we’re selling, so far so good… Quality is the most important thing about my shop. I cannot risk my reputation, or the reputation of my chef or my employee, using low quality ingredients. The best thing to have is best quality!
What do you look for in associates, when you pick them to build your team?
First, Passion! You need to have passion about this career because, this career is not for all people. They don’t know that we’re working so many hours a week, weekends, holidays. It’s a very tough career. If you don’t have passion, it’s hard to be in this job. Detail oriented. To have a good pastry shop, to be a good pastry chef/cook, you need to have detail in everything. Be precise, you need to be very organized, because if you’re not organised you cannot make nothing. So, passion, detail oriented and organised.
There is another project that is going on in the shop, there is an academy? How does it work?
Yes, I would love to teach a few classes in my shop, that’s the dream I have, but now with the opening we get so busy that we do not have time to manage this, but I will start soon to teach every month at least two classes.
Does that mean that we won’t be seeing you doing Masterclasses around the world that much?
Yes. You know, I’ve been teaching in the last 11 – 12 years, I’ve been around the world, every year more than 30 cities in the world teaching 40 – 50 classes. I think it’s time to relax a little bit, to stay home with my wife, my family, take care of my business. But yes, I will start teaching some classes, not like this year or last year, or 3 years ago, but I will start because I love it – I love to teach classes. I love to give people what I learn. But every year I will teach less, and less and less…
But you have to keep one trip to Greece every year to come to us at MGA, right?
Yes, that’s true!
In a nutshell, you’re very active on social media, you have famous awards, four published books, Masterclasses around the world, running your own shop and, Academy, soon. Do you have any free time??
That’s a good question! I don’t think so… I don’t think I have any free time in the last 5 years. I dedicate 100% to my career. It’s very tough. When you have a lot of passion for this career you need to put to the side a lot of things personal. But, I need to do it. I need to take time, for myself, for my wife, for my family.
What’s your favorite ingredient, that you love to work with?
My favorite ingredient is chocolate. I love chocolate because, with chocolate you can do anything, you can make anything dessert. You can mix any flavor, any fruit with chocolate. For me it’s the most valued ingredient for a pastry chef.
And you work a lot with fruit. Which type of fruit do you prefer?
I like tropical fruit because I grew up in Puerto Rico, a tropical island. When you grow up with this kind of flavor of fruit that you cannot find in Europe or in other countries, for me it’s very important to have a memory of the fruit I ate when I was young.
What’s your favorite trend in pastry nowadays?
I don’t know… I do everything… For me a good pastry chef needs to make everything from wedding cakes, bonbons, plated desserts to viennoiserie, chocolate, a little bit sugar… I like everything, but this year I will focus more on bread and viennoiserie.
You’ve spent the last 5 days in Crete for two Masterclasses at MGA. What was your experience with MGA?
It was a great experience for me. Nice people, nice staff, great students, chefs that came to my classes. Also, with Pepe (Jose Manuel Samper), my assistant for both of us it was a great experience. We travel every month twice or three times for different schools around the world. I’m very happy I came here to Crete, I met amazing people, amazing professionals. I was talking with Pepe that we’re happy to come here because we feel like a family… That, for me, is very important, when you feel that you are with family. Because sometimes you travel the world, you travel to so many cities and you’re alone at the hotel with your assistant, you go out only with one person to have dinner, no talking… In the last 5 days we spent a lot of time together, we had fun, we laughed, it has been great for us.