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Paul’s Stories: A Trip to Italy

After my last trip to make the wedding cake in Monaco, my name was bobbling around the pastry Chefs of the local towns and villages of Italy and France (scratching their heads that I was flown over to make the cake). Not something that I had really thought about until one day we received an email from a pastry chef in a little town called Arma de Taggia near San Remo, Italy, asking if I was the guy that made the “wedding cake” in Monaco!

Little did I know this email would be the start of my international teaching life and take me to places I could only have dreamt of…!

My first thought was there no way I can go teach chefs in Italy, that’s just crazy… I’m just a wee lad from Scotland that was in the right place at the right time when asked to make a BIG cake in Monaco… BUT ever the BOSS, David convinced me to say yes and before I knew it, my bags were packed for Italy!!!

Before I could run for the Highlands, David, his Mum and me were off to Italy…! Hmmmmmm, now I know why he pushed me to go… a wee holiday while I’m working…! lol 😉

We rented a lovely little farm house up in the hills with cypress trees all around and the sound of the river nearby, it was heaven. I also made friends with a mountain goat… Bit of advice, don’t clap them as they are VERY, VERY, VERY, VERY smelly and once you touch them the smells stays with you for days!

I arrived for the first day at Pasticceria Setti. The owner and chap that sent me the email, Andrea Setti, is there in the bakery finishing off his croissant, the smell is divine! (I’ve just lost 19Kg in weight, this is going to be hard).

His shop looks a million dollars and it’s very busy with the locals popping in for their WEE espresso and pasty before work!

I’m now in Oh Crap mode, what am I doing here…? I should be in my comfort zone in Scotland making cakes and not feeling stressed out ma head…! I’m not teaching as such, it’s more of an introduction to cake design using sugarpaste and ganache! At that time some 8 years ago cake decorating as we know it was very much unheard of in Italy apart from the big hotels… The chefs turn up and the noise gets louder and louder as they all catch up over a coffee!

I can’t remember how many days I’m demoing but its a few! It turns out they love watching me work and look really amazed at what you can do with cake and sugarpaste…!

I remember one chef, I’ve just finished showing them how to make roses using the thumb technique… He grabs my hand and looks at my thumb as if I have a magic finger…! Everyone bursts out laughing and from there on I feel like I’m now in my comfort zone.

Over the couple of days I demo my chocolate wrap, handbag, teddy and shoe box cakes aswell as others that I can’t remember. You can see in their eyes that the brain is in over drive with ideas for cakes…!

Each night we were taken for dinner and the food is stunning, it’s such a lovely way to finish a hard day, chatting over food and a wee glass of wine.

We bolt on a few extra days and take David’s mum to Monaco to show her the palace where I made the cake. We have lunch at the Cafe de Paris Monte-Carlo (we don’t show David’s mum the bill as she might fall over lol) and just sit and watch all the fancy cars and pampered ladies walk up and down with their designer EVERYTHING……! “Oh” I missed the other type of human…. The cruise-ship tourist with their cameras and ice-cream it’s easy to spot the locals here…lol

It’s now getting dark so we decided to head back to the farm house… Easier said than done! We must have driven around Monaco for at least 1 hour trying to find the motorway, passing the same monument 10 times… David’s Mum is freaking out as the drops at the road side are pretty high… I’m in the back giggling away trying not to be heard while David’s language becomes more and more FRENCH like hehehe…!

All in all we have a blast in Italy and become friends with Andrea which leads to more trips to Italy and the Palace of Monaco…!

To be continued…….Px

P.s the diet ended on that trip and the 19Kg was back on faster than you can ganache a cake…..! lol 😉x

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