His childhood was spent in a rural environment, coming from a farmers’ family working in the cultivation and development of milk, wheat and beet, raw materials which are all fundamental for pastry. Pascal De Deyne felt his ‘trade calling’ at a young age. He studied at a pastry school in Bruges and began to go through the workshops of different renowned pastry shops to complete his training. He spends some time, for example, in Fauchon, working in the workshop alongside professionals such as Christophe Adam, Dominique Ansel or Jérôme de Oliveira. But it was especially during his time at De Baere in Brussels, together with Thierry Wynants, when he consolidated his training and perfected his technique in the main tasks of pastry, sugar and chocolate. Currently, he serves as the executive chef at Van Dender, alongside his manager Herman Van Dender. There he enjoys the freedom to make the new proposals for each season, and appreciates the possibilities of a chocolate shop that makes its own raw material bean to bar, from the selection of the beans to the final couverture, achieving a distinguished and unique product.
The Belgian Pascal De Deyne is a pastry enthusiast, very aware that you can always learn things if you have the right mentality and attitude. At so good #21, he remembers, with special affection, winning the bronze medal in the Coupe du Monde de Pâtisserie in 2011. He believes that any professional or pastry apprentice who is eager to evolve should experience the pressure of a pastry competition, the attempt to do the best they possibly can, to learn from the mistakes themselves and to share an enriching experience with other colleagues of their trade.
‘Currently, you see fewer and fewer people motivated to participate in competitions in Belgium. However, participating in a competition makes you grow within the trade, allows you to investigate and learn from your own mistakes.’
Although the appearance of the creations is very effective, Pascal De Deyne takes into account the choice of flavors, which he prefers to be harmonious and simple, and to show an original work, in this case especially inspired by nature. A nature to taste.
You have participated in many competitions, locally, nationally, and internationally. What have they contributed to you? What are the best memories you have of these experiences?
Participating in competitions has helped me improve myself, to look for techniques, to invent … To coincide with other passionate people with whom sharing the same concern for the trade is part of my best memories. You can learn from everyone, from their style and their techniques. The 2011 World Cup will always be the competition that I will most appreciate. I spent two years preparing myself to be at the highest level. A team competition that only lasts a few hours but can change a whole career. Winning the bronze medal after all the work done was a great recognition. Currently, you see fewer and fewer people motivated to participate in competitions in Belgium. However, participating in a competition makes you grow within the trade, allows you to investigate and learn from your own mistakes.
Would you like to have your own business? How do you manage the balance between creative freedom and work for a brand that is not yours?
In the future, I would love to have my own business, building your own brand is something extraordinary. Currently, I am giving courses, demonstrations, photo shoots of pastry products … I try to transmit the maximum knowledge possible to inspire other interested colleagues.
I also work as executive chef at the Van Dender bakery. There, I can unleash my inspiration with the products that I like. My boss, Herman Van Dender, trusts me, something fundamental for giving 100%. Each season I am in charge of the new proposals. The only thing necessary is that each idea ends up being viable. In addition, we make our own chocolate, from bean to bar. We select the beans and we take care of the roasting, grinding,until turning the chocolate into drops, tablets, bonbons… It is something which is still unusual in the sector. This gives us greater independence and helps us to achieve a unique flavor which is totally different from that of other pastry chefs and chocolatiers.
It is necessary that you have an image that fits the senses. It is necessary that it produces happiness and that it is filled with flavors that go well together. You don’t always need to look very far.
What ingredients should a good cake have in your opinion?
It is necessary that you have an image that fits the senses. It is necessary that it produces happiness and that it is filled with flavors that go well together. You don’t always need to look very far. There must be a crunch, sweet cream full of flavors, a refreshing jelly … Some acidity, bitterness, savory, sweet, a combination of all these elements.
Who are your main professional references?
Every super motivated chef can be a source of inspiration. In Belgium one of those chefs is Marc Ducobu, he is a very good pastry chef, also a member of Relais Desserts and where many of us go for inspiration. It is at a higher level in each family of products it handles.
For me personally a chef who inspires me does not have to have many likes on Facebook or Instagram. Not everyone has time to devote to social networks, but given the importance they have acquired, it is true that you can always get some ideas. Among my references, there are also great names like Antonio Bachour, Amaury Guichon, Cedric Grolet, Vincent Vallée, Melissa Coppel, Frank Haasnoot, Ecole Bellouet Conseil and many more that I am not naming now.
How do you approach the creative part of your work? What do you usually aspire to?
Creativity is a combination of one’s own knowledge with techniques, imagination, flavors, nature, environment, social networks, and many other factors. I love nature, there is something something perfect about it. In nature, each element has a reason. You can try to approach your work but you will never reach perfection. Since I have a daughter, I am also inspired by cartoons, which are full of ideas.
I love nature, there is something something perfect about it. In nature, each element has a reason. You can try to approach your work but you will never reach perfection.
What is the key to maintaining a personal seal in your work?
The most important thing is to test a lot, to try new things. Let the ideas rest for a few days and then analyze them again to see the defects or how to improve them. You must follow your instinct and not copy. Something that I really appreciate is when you inspire and develop something in your own way, with your own style.
What advice would you give someone who wants to start in pastry?
Work, work and work. You must also first pass through a good patisserie to learn the most. Practice more outside of work hours. The ideal is to go through as many pastry shops of great reputation, to meet others who are passionate about the trade that will help you to forge your own style.
It is also good to participate in many competitions, they put you to the test because there is a challenge every time. First try to improve yourself and then the rest of the candidates. You learn from your mistakes and you learn from others.
You are never the best, the world evolves constantly and you must evolve and continue to explore at all times.
This magazine, so good, helps to see this evolution all over the world. You can learn from each trade, from each culture. By staying open to everything you can progress professionally. And above all, having your close people in mind, their eyes will help you to stay first. The rest is work.