That Pierre Marcolini would walk down the path of a patissier was a foregone conclusion from early on in his childhood in Belgium, when he would often be caught trading toys with his brothers in exchange for desserts. As Pierre explains – whilst we sit surrounded by his latest creations – it just felt right. Much like it is between a man and a woman, he knew that he was (and still is) in love with chocolate…
We are meeting at Carousel in Marylebone, where Pierre has just revealed his new collections for autumn (showcasing the silkily nutty notes of Piedmont hazelnuts) and the upcoming festive season. The whimsical works include a celestial planet majestically masquerading as Father Christmas, with Santa’s classic bonnet swapped for a glistening crescent moon while a dark chocolate eclipse wreathes the final flourish…
Continually inspired by his frequent travels and encounters, the ‘haute couture’ chocolatier is of the belief that design and taste can be seamlessly brought together to bring chocolate to life. Having experienced the spectacular sight of his Kaiwai-inspired Easter eggs earlier this year, I can see how his creations are considered works of art in themselves, a sentiment that is echoed across his ongoing collaborations with fashion and design labels.
In reality, the meticulous emphasis on appearance belies an unequivocal focus on depth of rich textures and quality of the ingredients, with Pierre painstakingly sourcing cocoa beans from all over the world to pioneer the now cult-like ‘bean to bar’ process.
Yet as he remarks, this modern-day movement is simply a repetition of the processes introduced early on in the 20th Century – a time when every chocolate maker began with the bean. It was the industrialisation of chocolate production which turned things around post The World War. However, there has been much progress on other fronts – with chocolate production now often taking place in the same countries growing the bean, allowing these developing economies to capture more added value in the bargain.
At some point in our conversation, I simply have to ask. How much chocolate does Pierre Marcolini eat in a day. The candid response: 100 grams. As he enthuses, there is a chocolate to suit every mood or any time of day, from strong Ecuadorian dark chocolate in the morning, to more honeyed hints of caramel in the afternoon and smoked flavours by nightfall!
The other topic I’m curious to have Pierre’s views on is how the digital age has shaped the evolution of his industry. His stance is wholly positive on this one, offering a refreshing perspective on how social media has fostered more collaboration by way of sharing recipes. He remembers a time when recipes were often stolen from other pastry chefs, a stark difference to the situation now wherein it’s not just about the recipe, but the pastry chef behind its creation. It’s social media which has helped carve out their identity.
I’m conscious of time and the growing number of people (im)patiently waiting to congratulate Pierre on his new line – so I wrap up with a simple question: What’s next? A School is the humble response, revealing Pierre’s dreams to transfer his knowledge and passion to others.
I for one, can’t wait to sign up.
Explore the World of Pierre Marcolini, here.