By Maddison Devoy
Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre’s (MCEC) Executive Pastry Chef, Alessandro Bartesaghi, was nominated by the Australian Culinary Federation to represent Australia in the Asia-Pacific round of the Global Pastry Chef Challenge, which recently took place in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Competitors had three hours to prepare and serve four plated desserts and one cake incorporating Valrhona Manjari 64% Dark Chocolate and Dilmah tea.
“You have to come up with your own strategy to make it all happen in three hours,” Alessandro said. “You’re quite limited in what you can do, but you need to show your skills and that you know how to prepare a cake that is modern, tasty, and looks impressive, all within the time frame.”
Alessandro’s creative, winning dessert recipe was inspired by a popular Asian whisky and mandarin cocktail. The dessert featured earl grey, chocolate, mandarin, and whisky from Starward, a Melbourne distillery that utilizes local ingredients and matures their whisky in tawny barrels, bringing out a unique flavor. The dessert was required to have frozen, warm, ambient, and cold components.
His cake also featured the unique earl grey, mandarin, and chocolate flavor combination. “I always put fruit in my desserts because I really like the freshness and the color that fruit brings,” he said.
“Mandarin is in season so it was an obvious choice and I thought it would pair quite well with earl grey because of the bergamot, which is also a citrus. It’s really nice, fragrant, and fresh.”
“When you cook with chocolate you have to be careful about balancing everything correctly otherwise the dessert is too rich. Mandarin is a really subtle flavor that can be hard to use,” he said. But Alessandro’s attention to detail and skillful execution resulted in a perfect combination, earning him the top spot in the competition.
The judges were impressed with Alessandro’s ability to balance bold and subtle flavors, making his dishes stand out.
“I’m so honored to receive this award, thank you to the judges for their recognition and thank you to MCEC for supporting me to achieve this. I hope to continue pushing the boundaries of flavor and creating unique culinary experiences for visitors at MCEC,” he said.
“Congratulations to all my fellow competitors, you showed great skill and determination throughout the competition,” he added.
Following his win, Alessandro will go head-to-head with global champions in Singapore next year.
Alessandro’s culinary journey has taken him to different parts of the world, where he has gained experience and inspiration for his creations. Visitors to MCEC can taste his delicious pastries, croissants, ice creams, desserts, and breads at MCEC’s onsite cafes as well as on the menu at conferences, exhibitions, galas, and cocktail events at MCEC. Alessandro works closely alongside the chefs at MCEC to create custom menus for client events held at the venue. Together, MCEC’s team of culinary experts offer imaginative solutions and create unforgettable dining experiences.
Maddison Devoy is Corporate Communications Specialist – Media at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.