Irreverently delicious

Adriano Zumbo

Adriano Zumbo is one of Australia's most celebrated patissiers. He began his apprenticeship at the age of 15 where his love affair with pastry flourished. It's this love affair, combined with his Parisian training at institutions that include l'Ecole Lenôtre, Bellouet and stagés at Pierre Hermé and Damiani, which has resulted in a sensibility as delicious as it is irreverent. Adriano's appearance on the first series of MasterChef Australia helped introduce the croquembouche to an even wider audience and made Adriano - and macarons - a household name.

In his most recent cookbook, The Zumbo Files, Adriano continues to explore and experiment with different tastes, flavours, textures and colours. (Enter our contest for your chance to win a copy of the cookbook. Contest limited to EYB Members in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand.) We asked Adriano about his cookbook and about his expanding empire of bakeries.

 


 

The Zumbo Files recreates classic desserts in contemporary versions.  Are they still recognizable as the original and which are you most proud of?

The Zumbo Files really is a representation of my creations over the past few years. They are all unique, although of course they reference desserts that came before. I know it's a lame answer, but I really don't have one in particular I want to single out - I'm proud of them all!

The desserts you sell at the bakeries can be very complex. Were there any you planned to include in the book but excluded because they were too demanding of a home cook?

All the cakes I included in the book can be made at home - I haven't altered the recipe in any major way for the home cook. Of course, some of the recipes will be a challenge, but the trick is to create them in stages - don't try and rush the process into a couple of hours. You'll enjoy it so much more without the stress of time and the result will be far superior.

You were prominent in introducing Australians to the macaron.  Are they still popular in your bakeries?  What are the most popular and most unusual flavors?

Yes, my macarons (or zumbarons as they are called) are still one of my most successful products. In terms of flavours, the salted butter popcorn, chocolate brownie and caramel have withstood the test of time - all three flavours have been on the menu since the beginning and continue to be the most popular. The most unusual flavour at the moment is the green tea & muesli - the recipe for that one you'll find in the book.

Are there any new desserts or updated classics you would like to make more popular?

To be honest, there's not much that hasn't been done before in terms of desserts. But if I was going to choose a sweet that is underappreciated, I would probably say custard. Personally, I can't get enough of the stuff - I eat it out of a carton at home, but I do also think there's room to grow appreciation of a classic like the custard tart.

You own seven stores around New South Wales and Victoria.  How much attention do you pay to dietary trends such as gluten-free and sugar-free?   

Yes, we definitely do pay attention to dietary trends. I can't really jump onto the sugar-free band-wagon, but we certainly try and cook all our products with the least amount of sugar possible and we always have between 4 and 6 gluten free cakes available. I always try to listen to my customers and for the most part, they give good feedback!

You have competed in pastry competitions. Is it as stressful as it looked in the documentary film Kings of Pastry?

It's hard to describe the immense pressure of an international pastry competition. There are teams that prepare 8-10 hours a day for 18 months before these competitions. The resources and dedication required to compete (and win!) creates a highly pressurised environment. But if you win, your life changes - you are an absolute star to your peers.

Which pastry chefs do you consider to be prime influences on your style and career?

I could rattle off about 30 names of chefs making a huge difference in the world of pastry, but I'll contain myself! Pierre Hermé has had a massive influence on me - he taught me more about pastry than anyone else. But then there's also Ramon Moratò and Yohan Martin who are incredibly skilled and creative.

1 Comment

  • Gillian  on  5/28/2015 at 4:34 AM

    Adrian Zumbo is the king. I love his courage and inventiveness and techniques and, let's face it, every Australian cook needs some proper food porn to drool over while reading in bed

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