Today Christian Marasca is regarded as one of the most prestigious in the Pastry Chef world, and many connoisseurs choose the restaurant Zia exactly for that. The conclusion of a meal comes with a feeling of complete balance and satisfaction, a very nice bonus to an already exclusive experience. His French technique is visible tout de suite, enriched by an Italian taste in the fillings. It will surely bring your taste to an explosion. The opening of an independent project is rare in the restaurant industry. I was lucky enough to spend a few hours with Christian and talk about it.
To come to your project, you have come a long way and learned from the best masters. Tell us about your experience in France and how that time was for you?
I think that the experience you make across the years is really important for your job. France is a magical place for pastry! I had the honor to have an internship with Cedric Grolet at Le Meurice. The first impression I got from this experience is that all people around you are working for a precise goal, crazy focused! We were about 20 in the pastry team. To be part of a large team it’s very important, you’re not just making pastries, I remember that the Sous Chefs were working hard every day to try new stuff. Making something new in places like that means literally that you are creating, new desserts, new entremets, that no-one has ever seen before! I think that they’re doing an amazing job.
How does your creative process work from idea to implementation?
To be creative is super important for a pastry chef. In my opinion, a dessert starts with memories, and also from your tastes. I think that the creative process is the hardest part of our job, because you’ve got to translate your ideas in a dessert, and it’s not immediate. I demand a lot from myself. All my desserts for Zia and Door to Door become available only if they communicate emotion. It’s all about instinct, if you know how to manage that you’re in the right place. After I have the “idea” the practice stage starts, which means a lot of tests. Don’t be surprised if I say that 9/10 I’m not satisfied, but believe me, that is the key to make a dessert that “works”. If I can make something that people will remember, starting from a personal memory, then I know I’ve done my job well.
Do you follow trends or do you work exclusively in your own style?
It depends on what trends mean for you. I think that classics are the basics that you cannot ignore. from this starting point you can afford to roam and get ideas from new trends, even if for me the chefs which I take inspiration from (Grolet, Barbot, Brys..) are not making just trends, but new instant classics! Sincerely, I don’t care about trends. I work hard to have a style that I can call my own, that is recognizable, and I feel I still have some road ahead of me.
How was the door-to-door project born?
Six months ago I said to Antonio that my dream was to open a Pastry shop linked to Zia within 2 years. During the quarantine, Antonio calls me saying that it was the moment to start our project, but with a new approach, incorporating social networks more. While a lot of people were re-thinking their kitchen to make it available for delivery, we thought that a pastry shop was the right way to improve our offer to costumers, and in June 2020 we started this new experience!
How did you realize that it was time to be not just an integral part of Zia dinner experience, but a novel full-fledged direction from the restaurant?
I’ve been here since before the opening. Since day 0. I’ve seen this project arise from the dust. I cannot afford to be just the pastry chef. My goal is to help Antonio to take Zia to success. I think that he feels this and that’s the reason why he gives me a lot of responsibility.
What makes a successful pastry chef nowadays?
A successful pastry chef is the one that’s able to put together a good team and keep it focused on a Goal. Obviously, taste and aesthetics are important skills, but the strength of the team it’s the key to success.
How do you choose people for your team?
The most important thing that I look for is motivation. I don’t care about experiences or what you know, because there are a lot of potential chefs that have a real hunger to grow, and they can have zero to no experience at all and be self-taught. If I were to advise a younger pastry chef, it would be to choose good places to make some experience and give all of themselves for the team goals. In the beginning, it’s important to make the right choice not to lose time.
Give your professional assessment of the position of the pastry chefs in restaurants and the restaurant industry in 2020.
A Pastry chef plays a key role in a Restaurant, just think that the last step of a meal it’s the dessert and that often lingers on as the final memory of that experience. You cannot miss the target! I think that in Italy we have to work a lot to increase the consideration of the dessert. I really hope all my colleagues had the chance to meet and work with an Executive Chef like Antonio that believes in you and believes in putting pastry front stage both in the menu and through communication efforts. As I said to you when we met for the photoshoot, I’m very sad if I think that in Italy we’ve got a lot of 5star luxury hotels and nice restaurants, but very little communication coming directly from Pastry Chefs, in comparison with France.