Angela Sharda speaks to Francesco Mannino about his work as a pastry chef, his love for food and about working at Pan Pacific London.
Q. How did it all start – your passion for food and cooking?
A. I grew up in Italy with my family and was always surrounded by wonderful food – I have memories of my grandmother cooking and passing on her recipes and tips and tricks to me, and I think that’s where my love of cooking and baking came from.
Q. What attracted you towards becoming a pastry chef?
A. I’ve always been passionate about food and I love photography, so becoming a pastry chef felt like a natural fit, and has allowed me to combine cooking techniques with artistic flair. I’ve also always wanted to travel the world, and becoming a pastry chef has allowed me to work across the globe, which has been really exciting and taught me a lot.
Q. What do you love about your role as Pan Pacific’s new Executive Pastry Chef?
A. I’m delighted to be back in a hotel kitchen at Pan Pacific London, and to be overseeing pastry across the hotel as Executive Pastry Chef. I’ve worked in pastry kitchens across globe in hotels such as The Connaught, The Lanesborough, Claridge’s and The Langham Shenzen, and I’ve also opened my own bakery in Seoul and written my own cookbook Modern Italian Desserts so have learned so much along the way.
Q. What is your inspiration behind the pastries at Pan Pacific?
A. All of the desserts at Pan Pacific London are refined, delicate, carefully created and intricately designed, but I take inspiration from what’s in season really. SHIOK!, the property’s elegant patisserie bringing western flavours with an Asian twist to the heart of the city, offers a range of breakfast pastries and choices which can be enjoyed alongside coffee or aromatic loose-leaf tea blends; more suitable for guests on-the-go and ideal for morning meetings. In the afternoon, a varied selection of patisserie, sweet treats and impressive, handmade celebration cakes in a variety of flavours can be enjoyed in-store, collected to take away or delivered straight to your door. The Orchid Lounge on the other hand is the perfect destination for a curated afternoon tea with a Singaporean twist, not found anywhere else in London and designed to be savoured. Asian flavours are brought to a traditional British Afternoon Tea with seasonal collections housed in the venue’s signature and ornate birdcages plus guests can choose the Kopi Tiam savoury course or traditional sandwiches if preferred. The sweet course features a selection of intricate and seasonally themed patisserie, perfectly paired with English Sparkling Wines and teas from the Rare Tea Company.
Q. What challenges do you face on a day-to-day basis in the workplace and how are they overcome?
A. We always strive for consistency – this is so important for pastry chefs, especially when working on delicate patisserie. I also think that effective communication is vital when working in a kitchen, as this can prevent challenges from cropping up day-to-day.
Q. You’ve worked in Asia. Tell us about how this influences your own style?
A. I opened my own bakery in Seoul with my wife and worked at The Langham Shenzen, and working in Asia has greatly influenced my own style. I love the refined yet minimalist style of Asian patisserie, and I can definitely see its influence in my own work – I would describe my culinary style as clean, sober, minimalist and flavourful.
Q. Which other afternoon teas do you love most in the City?
A. I’ve been so busy with my new role at Pan Pacific London I haven’t had time to try any yet! I would love to try the afternoon teas at The Dorchester, The Connaught and Claridge’s.
Q. What’s in the pipeline for the rest of 2023?
A. I’m really looking forward to introducing a new collection of desserts at SHIOK!, the patisserie at Pan Pacific London, and putting my stamp on the already stellar offering there. My new afternoon tea collection for the festive season is also currently in the works, and will be available in The Orchid Lounge from November, so I’m looking forward to our guests being able to try my new creations through the festive period and beyond.
For more information, visit Pan Pacific London