He has personally experienced the development of New York’s pastry for the last 40 years, and his figure is admired and beloved by his colleagues. Nevertheless, Biagio Settepani did not choose his profession. It was purely a matter of money.Just arrived in the city from his home in Sicily at the early age of 13, he found himself forced to help bring money into his household, and so he decided to start working in a small bakery in which he would discover his passion. He soon set up his own business – Pasticceria Bruno.
Today, he is also the author of a book which is half an autobiography half a cookbook: I, Biagio Settepani: My Life and Recipes.
Chef Settepani shares his opinions, experiences and thoughts with so good #14, and confesses his greatest achievement, ‘without family, there is no success! My family has always been the success in my life.’
Why did you decide to become a pastry chef? Can you describe your professional career?
The decision to become a pastry chef was really not a choice but a necessity. Coming to NY at the age of thirteen, I needed to find a job to help my family. My professional career is one that I still continue to learn from with each day that passes. I have been very lucky to be associated with some of the most talented pastry chefs in the world.
How has the pasty sector changed over the last 40 years in NY? How about the consumers?
The pastry sector in NY over the last 40 years has changed tremendously. Today the consumer is well educated in every aspect of the pastry world. They are more conscious of how and what they eat.
Few months ago, Pasticceria Bruno closed its doors in NYC for opening in Staten Island. Why?
We have operated Bruno Bakery in NYC for 33 years and our wish was to be able to be there for another 50 years or more. However, the economics of the city and our industry forced us to look for another location some 10 years ago. That is when we opened our second location in Staten Island, where we purchased the building and found a base for our business for many years to come.
The one thing that I always look for in a dessert is a creamy texture and how it evokes all of the senses
Tell us about your family. What is the participation of your family in your business?
Without family, there is no success! My family has always been the success in my life. Before it was my parents and brother that were involved in the business. Then after I got married my wife, Pina, started working in the business. As our family grew, all of my 3 kids got involved in the business. My two sons, Salvatore and Joseph, both attended The Culinary Institute of America (CIA), and my daughter, Fina, graduated from college with a degree in Marketing. Now Salvatore is running our second location in Staten Island, while Joseph oversees the production in house and Fina is responsible for marketing and special events.
What do you find most fascinating in your patisserie?
The most fascinating part of my job is the ability to do something that I love. I still get out of bed in the morning and my mind is full of projects. The seasonality of my business is fascinating because it allows us to work with nature.
What can one always find in your desserts?
The one thing that I always look for in a dessert is a creamy texture and how it evokes all of the senses.
The pastry world I feel is like the fashion world. What’s old today will be new tomorrow. We will for sure have demands for more sugar free, vegan, nut free or lactose free products but that will be in my opinion a niche business for some
What is the best comment you have heard from your customers about your product?
One of the best comments that I have ever heard from a customer is, ‘We have traveled all over the world and have never tasted anything like this. This is the best pastry ever!’.
In your opinion, what will pastry be like in the future? What are the tendencies for the next years?
I think that pastries in the future will be somewhat the same as they are today. People will always love to indulge in a pastry, and quality will be the only calling card. The pastry world I feel is like the fashion world. What’s old today will be new tomorrow. We will for sure have demands for more sugar free, vegan, nut free or lactose free products but that will be in my opinion a niche business for some.
What are Chef Settepani’s future plans? And what is the next challenge?
My future plan is to guide my family into the future and build a brand name for Pasticceria Bruno. I would love to write a second book, where I would feature traditional recipes that would safeguard them for the next generation of pastry chefs.