Andrés Morán became acquainted with high-class artisan pastry by the hand of Paco and Jacob Torreblanca and also high quality industrial pastry in Barry Callebaut Pastry Manufacturing. He even spent a year in China developing products for the hostelry sector. Now, he has been making healthy desserts at the Sha Wellness Clinic, (L’Albir, Alicante).
Who is Andrés Morán?
I am a person who is passionate about pastry and who was born in Elda (Alicante) 33 years ago. I am an Executive Pastry Chef at Sha Wellness Clinic, a pioneering global wellness clinic dedicated to improving and prolonging the quality of life of people by combining the most appropriate natural therapies, healthier living habits and the best knowledge of traditional medicine. Here I develop healthy pastry.
I am a perfectionist and meticulous, something that I try to convey in my creations. I do not settle until a dessert has a spectacular finish, flavors, and balanced and surprising textures.
Our customers come from all over the world, are accustomed to eating in the best restaurants and patisseries, and despite working with raw materials other than the usual, we must live up to their expectations. And if we are also improving their health, it is an added value that in very few places can be found.
Why did you decide to dedicate yourself to the world of pastry?
Since childhood I have found it incredible to be able to make creations based on ingredients as simple as water, flour, oil… After studying restauration, I was lucky enough to enter Paco and Jacob Torreblanca’s workshop, where I discovered haute patisserie and passion for excellence. Seeing them working was a real privilege. Discipline, accuracy when scaling, perfection in every detail, creativity… there I realized that when using the right techniques, dedication, passion, sensitivity and should we understand creativity, you can do what you aim for.
What as healthy pastry?
Pastry that has been made with natural ingredients, mostly integral and of ecological and sustainable origin, that also are beneficial for one’s health. This type of pastry is free of dairy products, eggs, margarines, sugars and refined flours… and of course artificial colors and preservatives.
The goal is to provide the body with the essential nutrients to function efficiently without overloading toxins with easy to digest creations, free of the most common allergens and with ingredients that facilitate the proper functioning of the body. For example, agar agar, which stimulates the functioning of the intestines; Kuzu, which regenerates the intestinal flora and revitalizes the organism; the rice drink, which favors digestion; rice molasses, which the body assimilates slowly and does not destabilize its correct functioning; rice flour, which is gluten-free and easier to digest…
“I take ingredients to the limit to know the different results that I can get from them. It is important to have an open mind and be very optimistic, understand and respect traditional concepts but work without fear of breaking the established rules”
What about fats and sugars?
Fats are practically not used, and as for the sugars, I substitute the refined ones with rice molasses or maple syrup, depending on the creations. The proportions are different, but I simply use it to balance the flavors and get the desired texture. During my time in China, I had to face this ‘problem’ when the first thing they explained to me is that oriental culture has no tradition of sweet food or desserts, so they reject sweet tastes. There, it is widely accepted that what is eaten directly affects health and image, reason why I had to reduce the proportions of sugars and fats.
But isn’t it contradictory to seek excellence in taste by limiting the amount of certain ingredients that are traditionally flavor enhancers and which further determine texture?
Paradoxically, now that I know and understand this type of pastry, I realize that the opposite happens, and it turns out that I get cleaner and more intense flavors. Now I work with authentic flavors and colors, we have countless enhancers of color and flavor in nature. The use of rice molasses, for example, gives more texture and practically neither sweetens nor gives flavor, contrary to what happens with sugar that can crystallize in certain creations and predetermine the taste in the end.
Every six months we make a change to the menu to adapt to the ingredients that we have that season. We set up a series of R & D + I meetings for kitchen managers and SHA’s healthy food consultants to establish the next line of work, ingredients, techniques we want to introduce … once we have the defined ideas, we start to do tests.
I like to ‘play’ with the ingredients that I work with. Until a year and a half ago, I did not know them, so I had to understand them first. I take them to the limit to know the different results that I can get from them. It is important to have an open mind and be very optimistic, understand and respect traditional concepts but work without fear of breaking the established rules.
Why should we lighten the desserts of high-end pastry shops if at the end of the day they are consumed very occasionally and in reasonable quantities?
Society is becoming more aware and more concerned about its food and the care of the environment. There are also more and more cases of allergies or intolerances with certain foods, so the demand for healthy, ecological and allergen-free products is booming in recent years.
Of course, a cream millefeuille or a panettone are irresistible and there will always be demand for that type of products. Both traditional and healthy pastry have their market.
What do your guests say about these types of desserts?
They are very surprised that you can make desserts which are so tasty and visually attractive with the ingredients we work with.
The same thing happens with food, it is one of the objectives that Javier Díaz Esterri as Executive Chef, Cristian García Rivero, Director of F & B, and I set ourselves when we started this challenge, to make healthy haute cuisine that is a reference worldwide. And from what they tell us and the awards we are receiving, we seem to be on the right track.
A sample of this comes from a personal comment from a very special guest: ‘Your desserts. Where to begin! The thing that captivated me about your desserts was the combination of the physical – gorgeous flavors tantalizing the taste buds, with the mental – being able to wholly embrace the decadence in the knowledge that they were super healthy. Something I’ve never experienced before. Amazing!’ Jacqueline Hurst, UK’s Leading Master Life Coach.
How do you imagine the pastry of the future?
There are more and more establishments and publications in the line of health. For example, Jordi Puigvert’s book, Evolution, in which he talks about many natural ingredients that are considered healthy and how to apply them to modern pastry. The method developed by Jordi Bordas, B-Concept, to break the established limits and develop a healthier pastry. And even Barry Callebaut with its theme #invasionoftheplants. They are some examples of great professionals and referring companies that are already marking the destiny of the pastry of the future. Ten years ago, for example, almost nobody knew about vegetable drinks, rice molasses, quinoa, edible seaweed, ‘superfoods’ … and today they are products that are increasingly in demand. I hope I can contribute my bit to the pastry of the future with this article.
You will also find these two recipes in so good #18