BarcelonaWho invented Chupa Chups or Pork Nougat with the much talked about Vicens Nougat this Christmas? Who came up with the menu for the luxury hotel opened by former footballer David Beckham in the Chinese city of Macau? Who's hiding behind some desserts at the three-star Michelin restaurant Aponiente in Cádiz? In any case we are talking about a Catalan company, I+Desserts, headed by David Gil from Osuna and his assistants, Ingrid Serra and Ferran Pastor. Gilles is a celebrity chef and pastry chef in the world of fine gastronomy, who, as he himself admits, feels comfortable “working in the shadows.”
In fact, he worked as a pastry chef at the ElBarri group, of which Albert Adrià was part and which closed in 2021. But before this closure, Gil was already thinking of a way out that accelerated with the outbreak of the pandemic. He did not want to create a restaurant because “it is a very saturated world.” “Both in Catalonia or in the rest of Spain. “We were looking for a way to make a living from this profession by being creative and innovative,” he says. Thanks to his experience in several Michelin-starred restaurants, he discovered an area that was not covered: a research company dedicated to the world of desserts, which was creative, distinctive and offered personalized suggestions to each client. “There was a huge demand because there were not (and are not) many pastry chefs, and during the Covid outbreak, everyone wanted to come up with new proposals,” he explains.
Gil took a central location, located in Sants, near Plaza de España, where they could have a culinary “laboratory” equipped with the latest machinery. Depending on the project, up to eight people work there, and they work surrounded by professionals from other disciplines. When you enter the building, kind of remember Joint work Where they live, with the exception of those in the kitchen, a chocolatier or industrial designer is responsible for making the molds that may be necessary to make the candy. “We had business from minute one,” he says. His idea was to move away from fine cooking to work in hotels and industries. “However, in the end, it's what you take away in the end.” Among his clients are many Michelin-starred restaurants and famous chefs, such as Nando Jobani or Alberto Chicot. “The good thing about fine-dining restaurants is that they have the ability to invest in creativity and do crazy things that others can't afford; the bad thing is that creativity here is underappreciated compared to countries like the United States,” he reflects.
Among the requests that surprised him most during the three years in which the company operated was the request for The Londoner Hotel, which is what David Beckham did in Macau. “We received an email from a company in Macau itself, who came from a subcontracting company in France, and they met with us and wanted our creative part for the new hotel,” he says. The task was to create a project inspired by what a diner would experience if they went to London. “We have recreated in desserts the experience of going to Wimbledon, having an English breakfast or going to a pub, all in a menu inspired by a map that takes you through different areas,” he explains. The latest surprise he received was a call from a hotel chain that he prefers not to give details about at the moment.
The creation process always follows the same structure: it starts with a brainstorming about what the customer wants which is visualized on a kind of large blackboard in the kitchen laboratory, and once the customer approves the proposal, the work begins and all aspects are decided: from the type of dish in which the product will be served to the molds Or the components needed to manufacture it. This way of working has led the company to establish collaborations with entities as diverse as the Capellades Paper Mill Museum or a printed fabric company.
The collaboration with the Torrons Vicens team has been going on for years and is one of the things the company is most satisfied with. “Innovating by reaching a lot of people with a handcrafted, well-preserved product,” Gill points out. Preparing Nougat Chupa Chups was clear to them from the first moment: “The mold must have balls and there must be chupa chups as well.”
However, from time to time, Gil and his team break away from anonymity and sell their own products. At Christmas, they often sold nougat by the stick Pop-up store (temporary store) online. “Every year we create a different collection of 3,000 units that are sold throughout Spain, among which, for example, is nougat in the form of a cookie,” he explains. This holiday season, they collaborated with Joncake, a cheesecake specialist with several stores in Barcelona, from which Tête de Moine cheese nougat came out.
Gil and his team also do not rule out leaving the shadows to move to the front row and have their own restaurant. What they are clear about is that it will be outside Spain and they see many possibilities in the South American market. Gil concludes: “Companies are born, grow, develop, and some die, and I am not afraid of change.”
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