Modern patisserie is constantly gaining popularity in Poland. Patryk Szczepański is a consultant there with his own company under the uninhibited name of Pure Sugar. And he confirms this phenomenon by his constant services, assisting all kinds of catering businesses, pastry shops and bakeries. In most cases, he does not propose any radical transformation of space or offer. He is simply dedicated to updating and expanding the offer with products with his own label, often adapted to all kinds of special customers (lactose intolerant, gluten free…) and with special focus on vegan products.
Patryk Szczepański, formerly a professor at the Chocolate Academy in Poland, thinks green, he has been a vegetarian for a few years and is convinced that it is a trend that will not stop growing in the near future. But he is aware that it is important to have an open mind and at the same time avoid the pretense that any ‘dairy-based’ creation can have its vegan version. On the contrary, in the products that he offers in his so good #25 contribution, he seeks to move away from the classic creation, and tries that they make sense for themselves. In fact, he feels immensely proud when many people try his proposals and enjoy them without even being aware that they have that ‘green’ characteristic.
Pure Sugar is the name of your consulting service. Really? But sugar is bad, right?
Honestly, the idea for the name of my company, Pure Sugar, was my first thought and so obvious and natural for me from the start. I really enjoy eating sweets and always did. I would even risk the thesis, that I am totally addicted to them. Pure Sugar describes what I love, but please don’t take it seriously – it’s a kind of joke and provocation to look at pastry in a broader perspective, not perceive it only in a sugar-full way. I’d like all my customers to take the name of my consulting service, with a pinch of salt.
How is it doing modern Pastry nowadays in Poland? Would you say it is an increasing activity or is it restricted just to a few hotels and fine dining restaurants?
In Poland since several years, modern pastry has been becomming more and more popular. I can easly notice, that in almost every medium-sized city, metropolian area not to mention large urban areas, there are modern pastry shops, bakeries, hotels and fine dining restaurants. They serve both – modern, comfort cousine and have a really desirable pastry collection. In broader perspective, in Poland, there are also few pastry schools and culinary schools with elmenets of pastry. Some of them invite the best pastry chefs from whole world, they show traditional and new trends, techniques and knowledge. I’m strongly convinced, that education institiutions and existing modern pastry and bakery spots, have a significant role in giving the solid knowledge-based background for future pastry chefs and also acts as a booster, who aims to improve gastronomy status and the quality of products and services.
‘ I’m not convinced that every product has its vegan equivalent. I would even ask a question, is it worth aspiring to produce such? I have a feeling that we may look further or choose an alternative’
Everything can be adapted to vegan pastry, but what about all those products that are based on butter, cream or eggs?
I’m not convinced that every product has its vegan equivalent. I would even ask a question, is it worth aspiring to produce such? I have a feeling that we may look further or choose an alternative from the beginning, which are not aimed to produce the taste or texture, which are the imitation of, for example, dairy-based products.
Certainly, the vegan trend influenced many pastry chefs, who are focused on creating interesting alternatives to non-vegan pastry products. I perceive that it is a good kick off to question the existing paradigm and to try to create vegan cream or butter. Very often, we may notice that vegan products, compared to their non-vegan versions, are more intensive and purer in taste, easier, faster and more intuitive to prepare. What is more, I think that by approaching pastry from another perspective, its ingredients (for example vegan, sugar, lactose, gluten free) its limitations and how these ingredients influence one another, we broaden our knowledge and keep ourselves open-minded.
‘The idea was to create products that look a little wild and fun, as always’
What vegan creations are you most proud of? Would you dare to say that they have nothing to envy pastry creations with ingredients of animal origin?
Every time my clients are surprised by my vegan dessert, especially non vegan ones, I feel proud of my well-done job. I wouldn’t risk comparing and value vegan to animal-origin products. From the beginning, they are meant to be different, based on other products, proportions, textures and flavors. More than trying to compare them, I would be more willing to experience their uniqueness and individual characteristics.
‘Every time my clients are surprised by my vegan dessert, especially non vegan ones, I feel proud of my well-done job’
What are your consulting clients use to be like? Have you had got the chance to update the offer of a classic Pastry shop in Poland?
I have been running my consulting services in Poland for over three years now. The spectrum of clients was very broad and their needs differed a lot. I would say, that there were no two pastry shops similar to each other. To look for common aspects, very often I had a chance to enrich existing offer or modify an offer to meet clients new needs, which can be for example vegan, sugar, lactose, gluten free products or elements of moder pastry. So we modified existing offer by adding new products or working on alternations in recepies and ingredients to create a clean label product, more that changing the strategy of wole companies’ production torwards modern pastry update.
What arouses more interest, vegan pastry or healthy pastry?
If I had to choose between these two, I would say that I have a bigger interest and enthusiasm for making vegan products. In private, I’ve been a vegetarian for few years now. So, as you may suppose, cooking and preparing pastry in a vegan way is a very natural and intuitive path for me. It doesn’t mean that I’m not interested in the healthy aspects of our diet or pastry. Just vegan ethics and overall philosophy seems to be for me like in a saying – near is my shirt but nearer is my skin.
Can we track any kind of local culture, ingredients, flavors or popular desserts in your proposals?
In propositions to the magazine, I wasn’t inspired by any local aspect. I have a huge respect, especially in my private life, for: local ingredients, seasional products, purchases from local farmers and all the bottom- up initiatives, which help us to live in a sustainable way and appreciate and reinforce localism. In my proffesional life, in a contrast, I enjoy working with non local products or even tropical ones. For me, they are interesting, fresh as not so common in my everyday diet. Often I am inspired by their uncertain favoure or texture. Also, I find it interesting, to combine local products with these from other corners of the world.
‘I feel that social media show predictable products in a predictable way, many ideas and aesthetic are similar to each other. However, still we can see many pastry chefs, who creates in a way, nobody did before’
Social media like Instagram has made modern pastry more global than ever in the past, but at the same time it looks more and more uniform and predictable. How do you manage to build up your own style? And what is it like?
Yes, that’s true. Social media, especially Instagram, influenced almost every field of our life, both professional and private. It’s a kind of booster, a hub to exchange opinions, ideas. And, that’s also true, that it has the other side of coin. I feel that social media show predictable products in a predictable way, many ideas and aesthetic are similar to each other. However, still we can see many pastry chefs, who creates in a way, nobody did before – real forerunners. Probably, the clue is to use Instagram as a tool to communicate globally, not as a inspirational tool. It’s also funny, that we may think that our concept is brand new, but in few minutes it turns out that somebody else had the same idea, but went further and has it photographed and even published. Do I have my own style? I don’t aspire to have such and it would be hard to give a description of it. I like raw aesthetics, opposition to symmetry, freedom in decoration. But they’re not constant characteristics and please, don’t be surprised when not finding it in my products.
What other aspects would you remark about their design, flavor combination, taste experience?
While I was thinking about recipes for So good magazine, I wanted to focus on two foundations. First, i wanted it to be vegan and secound was the the simplicity of preparation. As a result, I prepared a cake with strong chocolate flavour, contasting with sour fruits and ginger finish. There’s also a variety of textures: creamy and crispy, smooth jelly and rawness of cocoa nibs. My secound proposition is based on my beloved combination of tastes – salty sweet. Financier with cremeux and liquid caramel with soy sauce and fried bananas. You have to know, that I have a soft spot for fried bananas, so I could’t even imagine, the recipe without them!
And regarding the techniques you have applied and the (not so usual) ingredients you have used, what can you tell us about?
Few facts about ingredients and techniques are:
- Chocolate cremeux is based on water, what results in very clear, undisturbed and pure flavour.
- By replacing egg yolks by popular pectin Nh, which activates very fast, we’ll gain the consistency perfect stable for piping.
- To get light texture of financier, I enriched it with meringue based on potato protein.