Adriano Zumbo is one Australia’s most admired patissiers. Nicknamed the “Patissier of Pain” from the Masterchef series, his eccentric and inventive dessert creations turned Adriano into a baking superstar. I had a chance to chat with Adriano at Sydney’s Cake, Bake & Sweets Show about his work and get some great behind-the-scenes stories.
Why do you think Macarons have become so popular?
Adriano: I think they became popular after Masterchef, the show was on a high at the time…..it was the buzz, and everyone was really locked in to everything, and everything that came off that was like……”I want that, I want to get onto it”……it worked really well, because Australia’s pastry scene was quite down, it wasn’t really recognised much and from that, from TV, what it’s turned into today, food wise, and in a whole, its really brought the industry up, baking and pastry and everything.
It’s become recognised as such an art and the things of what you can do, but the macarons are such a great little product, IF they’re made well – the flavour, the texture, you can get a box of twelve and you can eat the whole twelve and you don’t feel like….you know?? You don’t feel like you’ve (eaten too much), there’s bite size, you can have twelve different flavours, and have twelve different experiences.
On a scale of one to ten, how hard is it to make the perfect macaron?
Adriano: Oh look, its not that hard…..but its not that easy. I’d say say six, in the middle, if you love good food, good flavours, good products, then you’ll use good products and you’ll make that macaron taste like it should. You’re not just going to be like….”ohh, its cool to make macarons, I’m going to make…strawberry flavour but I put in a hundred grams of strawberries to one kilo of chocolate, you’re never going to taste the strawberries, but in their head they think that “oh I’ve put the strawberry flavour in there, but it just tastes like chocolate”.
I think thats the big bad thing about whats happened with the push (popularity), there’s a lot of crap out there and there’s a lot of good stuff out there too, you’ve got to sort through it, and the people out there sometimes grow up with a certain type of macaron that they think is normal, and they think “ohh, ohh” (this is different to what I’m used to) you know? Its certainly a hard thing.
When you create a new macaron or Zonout what inspires you?
Ummmm…it’s definitely a process where we’ve got to think…ahhhhh… you’ve got to think what you’ve done in the past, but now its difficult, macarons are hard now because we’ve done so many flavours, sometimes we even go back and make the flavour that we’d before even better, we re-work it and we get more and more flavour or texture out of it…you know? It can be quite difficult, but the inspiration is everything. The word (inspiration), everything around us is inspiration, but in everyday life, in the supermarket, people you meet, the gardens, the forests, books…everything; restaurant meals…everything we do everyday is inspiration and this is how you interpret it. How do you absorb it, how do you make into something……..
TSF: Its constantly evolving and changing the whole pastry scene….I know back in Adelaide we call them cronuts…..
Zumbo: Yes (smiles)
TSF: But yeah…obviously, everyone has a different name for it…..
Zumbo: Yeah…..(smiles again)
TSF: Now…Macarons, are they your favourite sweet or or do you have a favourite dessert?
Zumbo: Umm…nah…I think my favourite dessert is ice cream and custard. I like simple, I like ice cream when it’s done really well, good flavour, soft texture. I love custard, I like simple things, really basic stuff like chocolate fondant. You don’t have to make me something crazy, because I don’t want that, I do that every day.
My last question, an aspiring pastry maker, what advice would you give them?
Zumbo: Ummm, I’d probably say……have a dream, have a passion, you’ve got to have thick skin, you’ve got to be able to not worry about what other people think of you and what you make, you’ve just got to have the focus and the vision and go for it. You’re going to choose your destiny, so don’t sit there and wait for somebody to choose it for you, you make it happen, you know what I mean? You have that passion, listen to the people out there, give them what they want.
TSF: Brilliant advice. Adriano, thank you very much, it was a pleasure to meet you.
Adriano: Yeah, you too 🙂
Adriano was a class act. Friendly and oh so down to earth, he truly made my first ever interview an absolute breeze.
Thanks for reading, until next time – happy noms 🙂