Professione Pasticcere (It’s a hard job but someone’s gotta do it)


Today I didn’t have breakfast.  Today I didn’t have lunch either. No I’m not dieting (although maybe after today I should fast for a month), I was asked to sit on the examiners panel for the Gambero Rosso Pastry Chef students final exam. It’s not the first time that I’ve done it, but today the level was extremely high and I was really impressed with the students from the minute I walked in to see what they’d been making. Each time I have been asked to be one of the examiners, the theme for the final exam has been different. Once it was breakfast, and the students had to imagine they were serving something worthy of a 5 star hotel. Today the theme was ‘la piccola pasticceria’, which translates to ‘small pastries’.  Think small bite size bignè, mini tarts, cream puffs, choux pastry etc…  Each student presented 5 – 6 small pastries. The final exam should best represent what they have learnt during the 190 hours of practical & theory lessons that make up this professional course.  Some pastries were far from ‘bite-size’, some had made small errors with their creams and custards, but overall they all did really well and definitely earned their diploma. .  Apart from one student who had a little tantrum and stormed out of the room, (who later apologised  for his emotional outburst) I found all the students humble, polite and very proud of what they had made for their exam. While I couldn’t eat one of everything, I certainly tasted one of everything….. which is really harder than it may seem. There were a couple of pastries that were delicious and nothing less than what I’d hope to find in a professional ‘pasticceria’. I was tempted to eat more than just one! (Had there not been about 30 more things to ‘taste’).

The Professional course offered by Gambero Rosso is not cheap at €5,000 but the diploma provides an important base on which one can start a promising career.  Gambero Rosso also offers each student work experience once they’ve finished the course with successful pastry chefs to see what is really involved in running a business. Foreign students are welcome, today there was a student from Taiwan and another from Russia. Mario Piccioni is the main teacher, but there are also other highly qualified Pastry Chef’s who visit to teach specialised lessons.


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