Spanish pastry chef Oriol Balaguer
Pastry Chefs & Chocolatiers
Author: Rodrigo García Fernández and Celia Hernando /©ICEX
Translation: Jenny McDonald /©ICEX
Oriol Balaguer (Calafell, Catalonia, 1971) has an astonishing CV. At the age of just 21, he obtained the Award for the Best Pastrychef in Spain, the start of a series of culinary successes. He studied at the Patisserie School in Barcelona but in fact was born into the worlds of confectionery and pastries, his father having run his own cake shop. Balaguer smiles as he recollects the afternoon snacks of bread with olive oil and chocolate. They aroused his chocolate-centered creativity.
Eight Chocolate Textures (sponge, caramel, mousse, sorbet, brittle, cream, sauce and a thin chocolate wafer) was the name of the creation for which he received the award for the World’s Best Dessert in 2001. That was during the seven-year period that Balaguer spent working in the research workshop at elBulli with Ferran Adrià. "My stay there taught me new ways of thinking, creating, blending flavors and trying out new ideas".
With this revolutionary philosophy, in 2002 he set up his own patisserie and confectionery studio, the first in Spain. As if it were a fashion store, this bakery in Morales street in Barcelona produces two exclusive collections a year of pastries and chocolates – spring-summer, and autumn-winter, reflecting this master pastry chef's inquiring nature and enthusiasm for exploration.
He is something of a chocolate addict. He insists he never tires of chocolate even though he spends all day working with it. Oriol Balaguer combines chocolate with almost anything -cheese, liqueurs, savory and bitter flavors. He forms part of the new generation of pastry chefs who have broken down the barriers separating savory and sweet. Such compartmentalization has evaporated from his catalogue of minimalist gastronomic jewels, which includes classics such as his famous chocolate "sherbet", which bursts in the mouth, and his half pods of mandarin truffle with salt. Another of his lines of research is his sugar-free desserts that use other sweeteners, making them suitable for diabetics. This led to his 2008 collection called "Bye bye sugar".
La cocina de los postres, published in 2000 and awarded the prize for the world's best dessert book, covers some of the creations that are being exported to the US, Hong Kong and Japan (where he has his own store). His inventions are available on special order or at his store in Sant Gregori Taumaturg square in Barcelona and in central Madrid in José Ortega y Gasset street. Moreover, this master of chocolate has signed an agreement with the Miró Foundation to offer chocolates and confectionery creations at presentations and events held in the Barcelona art gallery devoted to the Catalan artist.
In September 2009, Oriol Balaguer presented his new line of business, complementing his high-class cake shops. Called Sweet & Salty, the business takes an original approach to supplying catering to companies and private customers. In 2010 he was back in the news: he opened his first shop in the United Arab Emirates and his first bakery in Barcelona, called Classic Line. A meticulous and unhurried production process is the secret that guarantees Classic Line's daily supply of creative freshly baked bread. Everyday style, country style, corn, chocolate and orange, beer, sunflower seeds, black olive, etc. A long list of breads, each with its own name, sharing the shop window with exquisite cake and pastry treats such as croissants and cup cakes.
La Cocina de los Postres (Montagud, 2001)