Professional Spanish confectionery has undergone a huge transformation in recent years, as a result of the work of several masters and their protégés. This is a look at some of the most outstanding chefs on the dessert and confectionery scene in Spain today.

Paco Torreblanca: Master of Modern Patisserie
Torreblanca is a master pastry chef. Some of the best pastry chefs around today have trained in his school in Petrer, Alicante. He also owns several stores, one of which is online.

Torreblanca arrived in Paris at the age of 12. "My father sent me to work at the home of Monsieur Jean Millet, the best baker in France," he says.

His stint there instilled in him a work philosophy that he has been practicing for half a century, and now teaches to students at his school. There, with his son Jacobo, he endeavors to pass on "a love for the profession, for the highest quality raw ingredients, and a desire to reinvigorate flavors.In other words, it is the essence of traditional pastry-making, reinvented, while remaining true to its roots."

Torreblanca is a master with an impeccable career, and much more to tell. His name was propelled beyond the culinary world when he was asked to make the wedding cake for Prince Felipe, who is now King of Spain.

Christian Escribà: Playful Patisserie
Escribà is a fourth-generation pastry chef from the family that founded the Escribà bakeries in Barcelona, in 1906. It is thanks to him that new concepts and daring creations have been introduced into traditional pastry-making.

Vertical and moving desserts, and exploding cakes, are just some of his astounding and imaginative creations. Some of them have been made for brands and music artists all over the world.

The products supplied to his stores are handmade every day at his bakery on Barcelona's Gran Vía.

Escribà also runs a creative pastry school with his wife and colleague, Patricia Schmidt.

The school teaches the philosophy that "confectionery must surprise, excite, and create a unique and unforgettable experience. We don't sell food, we sell little moments of happiness."

Oriol Balaguer: Sweet Cuisine
Balaguer has academic qualifications in pastry-making and spent 7 years working at El Bulli. It was there that he acquired the culinary knowledge that he draws on in his creations and commercial products, such as the sweet stocks and broths that he uses for cooking, or citrus salts.

His impressive use and knowledge of raw ingredients, and his refined techniques, have enabled him to create a repertoire of cakes, desserts, ice creams, and even breads, combining both innovation and quality.

"We value creativity, quality, excellence, and teamwork. Every day, we are open to new experiences, and to working with and trying new products."

Balaguer is a chocolate virtuoso and has accumulated practically every international award in his profession. Among them is his "Best Dessert in the World" award for his delicious "Eight Textures of Chocolate" cake, which he continues to sell in his stores in Madrid and Barcelona.

Jordi Butrón: Pastry Chef
In 2000, Butrón, who was a student of Christian Escribà and trained in French pastry-making, opened the world's first dessert restaurant with fellow chef Xano Saguer: Espaisucre in Barcelona.

At Espaisucre, the concept of a restaurant dessert has been reimagined as a dish with its own personality and signature, both when the place operated as a restaurant, and after it became a pastry school.

"We see pastry-making as a continuous learning process in terms of technique and taste. It must always be approached with an innovative attitude, but with a respect for tradition at the same time. This is an essential ingredient in order to develop," says Butrón.

Butrón and Saguer, who is also a pastry chef, have recently unveiled a new restaurant concept: Essence—The Sweet Experience, where they offer 3 savory tapas, 5 desserts, and 3 sweet tapas.

Jordi Roca: Signature Pastries
The youngest of the Roca brothers was slow to make his way into the family business. But he found his place thanks to a Scottish pastry chef who worked at El Celler de Can Roca.

Since 2000, Jordi has been making carefully crafted, creative, and surprising desserts that work in harmony with the rest of the menu at the award-winning restaurant in Girona.

Among his most high-profile creations are desserts made with the essence of iconic perfumes, his "Orange Colorology" (whose name hints at the importance of the final appearance of his creations), and one of his most recent, called "Anarchy."

Alongside the sweets and desserts he creates for El Celler, Roca runs another project with his partner, Alejandra Rivas: the Rocambolesc ice cream parlors. Established in Barcelona, Madrid, and Alicante, they specialize in creative ice creams, offering flavors such as dulce de leche, guava jelly, and cotton candy.

Albert Adrià: Sweets and Desserts
Now at the helm of the elBarri group, Ferran Adrià's younger brother headed up El Bulli's dessert offering for more than a decade.

It was there, in Cala Montjoi, Roses, that he came up with the idea of replacing the dessert cart with "plated desserts" that followed the same concept as his other culinary creations. These would be cutting-edge recipes (some mixing sweet and savory) made using solid ingredients, foams, ice creams, soups, jellies, and more.

Albert Adrià's creations can be now enjoyed at La Dolça, the "dessert space" at the Tickets restaurant in Barcelona.

There, you can enjoy anything from chocolate cremoso with passion fruit and hazelnut ice cream, to Stracciatella di Bufala ice cream with tomatoes in vanilla and strawberry water, and a balsamic vinegar reduction.

Ricardo Vélez: The Cocoa Chef
Ricardo Vélez's curiosity about the world of desserts was awakened when his mother gave him a children's cookbook when he was just a boy.

At Moulin Chocolat in Madrid, he has reinvented classic French cakes and pastries with techniques he thought up himself.

His first macaroon, with Manjari chocolate cremoso and pineapple macerated in vanilla, marked the beginning of a career brimming with delicious creations. He has become particularly well-known for his truffles, pastries, and chocolate concoctions, which have earned him the nickname, "The Cocoa Chef."

Vélez also runs The Pâtissier, a baking and pastry school where he teaches specialized courses with some distinguished colleagues from the profession, experimenting with different products such as ice creams and brioche.

Fernando Sáenz: The Ice Cream Chef who Knows No Limits
This chef from La Rioja has managed to give ice creams their place in haute-cuisine restaurants, from Mugaritz to Quique Dacosta, not just as desserts, but as accompaniments to savory dishes. And he has managed to do it without losing his identity as a traditional ice cream chef.

Despite being self-taught, Sáenz managed to make his "torrijas" (a Spanish equivalent of French toast) an essential dish at his family's restaurant.

In 2002, he opened the DellaSera ice cream parlor in the heart of Logroño with his partner, Angelines González. They also opened the Obrador Grate, which is where they make the ice cream that they sell in store and distribute to restaurants.

Fig-leaf ice cream and lemon cream with Alfaro oil are just some of his original creations, which can be eaten in a cone or a tub.

Some examples of his haute-cuisine creations include a pea-pod water sorbet with chive oil to go with lobster, or a cauliflower, whiskey, coffee, and cream ice cream as an accompaniment to pigeon. Both dishes were thought up by the chef Eneko Atxa.

Julio Blanco: Sweet Asturias
With establishments in Gijón and Madrid, traces of Blanco's homeland are present in all his creations.

That Asturian mark can be seen in his keen use of apples, chestnuts, and hazelnuts. However, this baker is best known for his puff pastries.

Born in Gijón, Blanco learned the basics of pastry-making from a local baker at the age of 16, and later with Torreblanca. In Italy, he discovered panettone and learned how to make it.

At his two Pomme Sucre stores—the original one in Gijón, and another in Madrid—you can find high-quality pastries that are made mainly in Gijón and shipped to Madrid within a few hours. You can also take a seat and enjoy a coffee or tea.

Josep María Rodríguez: The Young Pastry Chef
Rodríquez was crowned world pastry champion in 2011. A year later, he opened the first of his La Pastisseria stores in Barcelona. Its cabinets showcase his spectacular creations, including "La Cirera" ("The Cherry" in Catalan)—made of yogurt cremoso, Sacher sponge cake, and cherries—which has become emblematic of his store.

He recalls how he used to make traditional desserts with his grandmother when he was just 8 years old. "Ever since I was a child, I have been drawn to pastry. Not just because of its flavor and color, but because of the secrets behind how it is made and the research it takes to get the best texture, smell, sensation, and delicacy."

"I have a deep respect for traditional pastry-making, but I am young and have an adventurous spirit. I like to create new, different, and original pieces that grab the customer's attention."

Montse Abellà: Balance and Sensitivity
As a girl, Montse Abellà improvised a dessert for her family made from baked apples. The sense of fulfilment she got from watching them happily eating what she had cooked led her to pursue cooking professionally.

Even at catering school, she was clear that she was going to focus her attention and training on desserts, which she saw as being "complex and difficult."

A student of Paco Torreblanca, Abellà has been at the head of the game at the Santceloni restaurant in Madrid since 2001, where she likes to showcase pure, authentic flavors.

Among her favorite ingredients are olive oil, salt and pepper, and seasonal fruits. Her creations are light and have very distinct flavors that combine innovation and creativity.

"Desserts pose a great challenge. They mark the end of the gastronomic experience, and must be in perfect harmony and balance with the rest of the menu."

Real Academia de Gastronomía
Credits: Story

Text: María García.

Image: "Dulce” [Sweet] Book (Published by: Planeta Gastro).

Acknowledgements: Rafael Ansón, president of the Spanish Royal Academy of Gastronomy; Elena Rodríguez, director of the Spanish Royal Academy of Gastronomy; María García and Caroline Verhille, contributors to the Spanish Royal Academy of Gastronomy.

Spanish Royal Academy of Gastronomy

This exhibition is part of the Spanish Gastronomy project jointly coordinated by Google Arts & Culture and the Spanish Royal Academy of Gastronomy.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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