Head chef Ross Saunders.
FORK TALK – A CHAT WITH OUR FOOD, WINE & DINING EXPERTS
Head chef Ross Saunders — Chocolat, Shop 6/59 Barkly St, Mornington.
Photos by Isabella Rose
Your creations are indulgent, delicious, and magnificent! What’s your secret?
We only use natural ingredients, butter, egg, flour, and fresh fruit daily. And everything is made by hand seven days a week.
All your pastries are made in-house using the highest quality ingredients. Which product is your favourite?
Every day I have a freshly baked croissant for breakfast. Without a doubt it’s my favourite.
You focus on tasty pastries with Mornington Peninsula ingredients. How have you chosen to honour these quality local products and produce?
Each recipe used at Chocolat is made to highlight their ingredients, from the buttery croissants and danish to our lush fruit gateaux, nutty biscuits and delicious almond croissants, savoury sausage and pork-filled sausage rolls, quiche, ham, and chicken baguettes. It’s all fresh and there’s nothing artificial. Everything is made with passion and dedication to perfection.
Chocolat is a traditional French patisserie-bakery. What would you say makes you unique?
Each of us are unique and interpret our passion in different ways. The recipes I use have been passed down from chef to chef over decades. French masters perfected the recipes, and the same formulas are still used by us at Chocolat. It’s only the passion and drive of the individual to interpret these recipes and put their own personality and style to them. I believe this makes us unique.
Could you tell us a little about your industry experience?
I’ve been baking from the early age of 14, when I met a French pâtissier who found me to be helpful and asked me if I would like an apprenticeship. I have since run and managed many high-profile appointments, from hotels in London and Melbourne to museums and racetracks. I’ve also travelled the word while winning and losing competitions. I ran the largest patisserie franchise and wholesale manufacturer in Victoria from the ground up for over 10 years. I’ve had the privilege to meet many masters of our industry – Paul Bocuse and Gerad Belloute, to name a few.
Do you have any advice for aspiring pastry chefs?
To be a pâtissier is to carry the torch for those who came before us, so be honest with yourself that the days are long and hours are early, so you must have dedication to mastering your art even though you may not be creating the products you want to, and it could be repetitive. Once you are inspired, you will find your way and be rewarded for your passion.
Photos by Isabella Rose