In issue number 23 of so good..magazine, Santiago Corral travels to Edinburgh to meet Ross Sneddon, pastry chef of the Balmoral Hotel. This was a unique experience due to the charm of both the city and the place, the magnificent hotel known as “the Old Lady”. Now we bring you the published interview that Santiago Corral had with the chef as well as a complete introduction and three creations signed by the chef, very much in line with trendy afternoon teas.
Ross Sneddon is the Executive Pastry Chef for the Balmoral hotel. He began his career over 25 years ago and he has honored his skills as an accomplished pastry chef in cities like Paris, New York and London. In 2004 he took the position as pastry chef at restaurant One, after working for chef Pierre Hermé in Paris. During that time the restaurant got his first Michelin Star. In 2015 he was offered the executive pastry chef position at the Balmoral Hotel.
“In my experience, when you put the visual first, the product might look fantastic, but it doesn’t have the same taste, and for me taste is the main thing”
What is your style of pastry and what do you must pay attention to when creating?
What I like to do is to design things first, then make sure things taste the way I want, then I want things to look a certain way from there I will expand on it: trying to keep things focused on quality rather than esthetics. Putting the flavor and ingredients first you always get the best product.
In my experience, when you put the visual first, the product might look fantastic, but it doesn’t have the same taste, and for me taste is the main thing.
What challenges did you face moving from a restaurant to the Executive Pastry chef position at the Balmoral Hotel?
Yes, it’s very different! In the restaurant downstairs, you concentrate on a couple of plated desserts, petit fours and bread, but when you take over the whole hotel there is so much more responsibility. Suddenly you have breakfast, banquets, room service, the brasserie, the afternoon tea – there are so many more venues to look after, it’s a bit challenge.
When you create a new dessert, does it have to be approved by the Executive chef?
We are very lucky to have a great Executive Chef, Alain Roux is very much an open chef, he does need to control things, therefore the work is collaborative. He specialized in the whole kitchen without specializing in pasty. When you bring these two disciplines together, it makes us stronger – we don’t like to compete.
“Food is like fashion. Food trends come and go, and it just so happens afternoon tea is right back in vogue”
What is the difference between “High tea” and “Low tea”?
“High tea” is more like an early dinner and is traditionally more regal than “low tea” which is more similar to afternoon tea. Pastry chefs are becoming more extravagant creating afternoon tea offerings.
Why do you think afternoon tea has had such a resurgence around the world?
Food is like fashion. Food trends come and go, and it just so happens afternoon tea is right back in vogue, Its elegant, eccentric, buggy and fun all at the same time. Chocolate and petit fours – I love baking. I really like a little bit of everything.
Can you name a few rules when you are at a “High tea”?
You should eat the savories, such a sandwich, first, followed by the warm scones, and finish with pasties or small cakes. Never cut a scone with a knife, you should be able to gently break the scones in two with your hands.
What would you consider the perfect afternoon tea menu?
It has to be balanced. Include around four types of sandwiches, and two types of scone, with a good high-fruit jam and clotted cream followed by four to five sweet items. Be it patisserie or baked cakes. Champagne of course!