Chef Passion Media

“You’re Hot Then You’re Cold”

Chef  Lorenzo Sollecito used to be hot, until he had an affair with pastry

The line from Katy Perry’s song describes the transformation of Lorenzo Sollecito perfectly (only that line, don’t continue, please). The Executive Pastry Chef of Four Seasons Jakarta, is probably one of the most interesting figures we’ve met for this issue, mainly for two reasons. The first one, Lorenzo is actually used to be a hot kitchen chef. He even almost became a sous chef in Italy, before he decided to enter the delicate world of pastry. The second reason is the fact that an Italian chef is displaying his rendition of our favorite street snack, Dadar Gulung.

Between his busy hours in Four Seasons, Lorenzo told us his story from his hometown in Italy, his view about the difference of hot kitchen and pastry, his style, also his unique choice of hobby, squash.

Where do you come from?

I came from Mezzocorona (province of Trento, Italy), it’s not really a town, more like a village with only 5.000 people living there, at the bottom of a beautiful mountain.

How did you start to work in the kitchen?
I started in hot kitchen in Venice, to some other places, and then I go back Tuscany in one really beautiful hotel. Until 20 something I was in the hot kitchen. I moved to Milano at Bvlgari Hotel under Elio Sironi, he’s a quite famous chef in Italy. From there I came to Florence for the opening of Four Seasons. Actually I was a CDP (Chef De Partie), almost a Sous Chef, but I totally changed department, I moved from hot kitchen from pastry.

Why started all over?

Well because, you know, in the beginning it’s always my dream to try. To me, to be a complete chef in the kitchen, you need to have experience in pastry. Pastry chef is usually a bit more the funky part of the team, we are much more creative. At that time, I believed that for growing in the right way, I had to put myself in the situation tow work under a very good pastry chef. That’s why I moved to Florence, and after 6 months, I said, “Okay, I like it!”

You’ve been working in both kitchens, what’s so interesting about pastry?
Well, it’s totally another kind of life; you have much more time in preparation. In hot kitchen, you have more restrictive time, you have to focus on what you’re doing in that specific time, whether it’s the meat, pasta, risotto, whatever. In pastry, everything is planned from the beginning. You have no range for error, which we had in the hot kitchen. In pastry, let say you screw up the recipe, all of the cake will not be as good.
Pasta might consist of 2 or 3 things, the pasta, the sauce, and condiments. In this cake (Dadar Gulung), we have 30-40 different products from butter, sugar, palm sugar to the gula jawa, it’s much more complex. I’m not saying that the (hot) kitchen is not challenging, but in pastry we have different challenge, there’s more room for creativity. The good thing is, during the service, we usually just do 2 or 3 (final) touch.

What do you consider as the best pastry product in Italy?

The strudel of my mother (laugh). Actually, as a pastry chef, I’m not that used to consume pastry or sweet product outside my job. If I see something interesting, I want to try to understand what is behind the dish. Other than that, in my private life, I’m more into the savory food, I prefer steak.

You’ve tried many of Indonesian pastry. How does it differs from Italian counterpart?
Honestly speaking, I don’t really like that much, it’s too sweet and the texture is soft, whereas for Italians, we’re more for crunchy things. In here, people are looking for sponge cake, soft bread, we (Italians) are on the opposite side. However, I really enjoy the flavor of some desserts like Lapis Legit, if it’s done properly. I also love Nastar, its my favorite one. The pineapple….. I can finish everthing in one day.

You worked in Singapore, right? How does it differ from Indonesia?
Singapore is a little bit more western. It’s something that is coming to Jakarta soon, obviously with the development of this country; the people will travel more all over the world. In term of presentation, both of the culture are very demanding. Singaporeans, as well as indonesia, they like very good looking thing, they know what is good, the look is the first thing. For us Italians, its completely different, taste is always the first thing. It doesn’t have to look perfect; our culture is a bit rustic in terms of presentation, even the tiramisu. Our tiramisu is not like super Japanese precise, it doesn’t have to be like that. It’s more like home style presentation, Mama style.

But I don’t think Four Seasons’ cake shop; La Patisserie is Mama style, right?

Yeah, it’s French style outlets, full of gold. What you’ll experience there, is combination of classic and modern products. We have cakes such as 360o Chocolate, Raspberry Earl Grey which uses very modern, funky presentation with shiny glazing. In here, we try to mix both classic and modern because when you only have one, automatically you cut off the part of the business, part of the (potential) guests. We want to give choices to everyone. We also have other products such as Seven Wonders Bonbon, sliced cakes, and macarons.

Every chef has his own specialization, what’s yours?
Well, I love working with chocolate. Not really in terms of products, i mean, of course I like mousse cake and bonbons, but i’m more into chocolate sculpture. So when i have time or possibility to do, let say for festivities, like the upcoming Mother’s Day, New Year, Christmas, I try to spend some time after my work with some of my staffs to create something special.

Tell us about your hobby, squash.
I start to play squash with my friend, he was the chef of Four Seasons Singapore. We shared the apartment, we were single and young. He’s a very hyperactive guy, always want to do something. Basically, in our days off, we try to wake up at nine o clock, go to squash for 2 to 3 hours in the morning. He’s much better than me, most of the time he always win, but my passion for squash comes from him.

How far have you gone with squash, I mean, have you entered any competitions?

No no no, the work that we do doesn’t leave that much time for hobby. But when it was possible, especially in Singapore, (we do it) once or twice a week. Its a good exercise because, actually, if you see the amount of calories you burnt for one hour of squash is like 3 hours of tennis. It is much faster, and requires more reaction. I haven’t really played here in Indonesia because I haven’t got any buddies to play with.

Do you find any relationship between squash and pastry?
No, maybe you know, sometimes these kind of sports that release the stress help you to think clearly. Sometimes when i was waiting for my friend i start to play by myself, put the music in the earplug, you don’t put much attention to the game, but you smash the ball hard, it helps me in thinking.

Finally, in your opinion, can you tell future trend of pastry?
I think the trend have to be followed but you don’t have to (really)stick with it. I believe in a very nice, classic, rustic things like, tiramisu, apple crumble, and again, the strudel of my mother. They’re the best things you can have. No need to take chemical, spherification, and foams, I’m not that kind of chef. Not because, it’s not nice, but it’s not my style. My style again, is developed product, combined product together, presented in a nice day. Nothing that is foam, molecular, it’s not for me, I like real food.