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Oriol Balaguer (49) can boast of almost everything as a pastry chef, but he does not go with him. He has the label of ‘the best …’ in almost everything he touches: in his croissants and panettones by contest and in the chocolate palms and roscones by popular acclaim. Now it’s Easter cute season and once again he proves why his name is at the top of the guild. “This year we expect to sell around 1,500 in Madrid alone,” he explains at the Only You Atocha Hotel, where he presents this year’s collection and, moreover, has just opened his Breakery corner.
Since January they have been working with these creations, very typical in Catalonia – it is tradition that the godfather gives them to the godson – and increasingly in the capital, which the Catalan pastry chef turns into authentic works of art. “The entire team proposes ideas and drawings. We are also asking customers for their opinion, including the children. And we make the selection from all this. This year has a line of animals (with moving koalas, elephants, ducks and puffer fish) and another more conceptual and design inspired by nature and architecture. “With chocolate you can do almost everything. It works as in fashion pattern making, with templates“, he explains while moving a bowl of chocolate.
A day they make about 20 monas. “They are made one by one by hand and take a lot of work. That’s right, we sell them all“, says who in 2018 received the award for Best Pastry Chef from the International Academy of Gastronomy – in his curriculum he has a few more -. For his creations -also for chocolates- he uses Cacao Grand Cru, chocolate from the plantations of cocoa from Venezuela, Trinidad and Santo Tom, as well as dark and white chocolate.
STRONG AGAINST PROBLEMS
The Catalan pastry chef opened his first store in Madrid in 2008. “He had invested everything here and the crisis came. It was tremendous.” The first place was Ortega y Gasset’s somewhat futuristic aesthetic candy box. “It was a dream” and for a few months it became almost a nightmare. But I got on with it. “I believe that I am strong and I grow before the problems”. With the pandemic, it has happened too. “In the hardest moments, with everything closed, I would go to my workshop and play music to think.”
Passionate about what he does, he has always claimed the role of the pastry chef. When La Duquesita took over the reins in 2015, an emblematic establishment in Madrid, I knew that the challenge was huge. “Stress activates me, I’ve always said that.” It has turned the space in the Salesas neighborhood into an essential visit to the capital. “This year we have broken a record in sales of panettones. It has been the undisputed star,” he explains. But the palm tree, of which about 300 can be sold on a weekday – “on weekends I don’t even know what comes out” – is always a safe bet. “The secret? Per kilo of flour, kilo of butter. And both of the highest quality,” he laughs. There is no more secret.
Addresses: The new collection will be exhibited during Easter at Only YOU Atocha (Madrid) and can be purchased on request in its boutiques in Madrid (Ortega y Gasset, 44, La Duquesita -Fernando VI, 2- and Breakery -Hotel Only You Atocha) and in Barcelona (Pl. Sant Gregori Taumaturg, 2; Travessera de les Corts, 340; Classic Line in Benet i Mateu, 62, C / Calbria, 65 and Bake It in Major de Sarri, 5).
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