Corinthia Palace Hotel & Spa pastry chef Mark McBride secures a silver award from the International Salon Culinaire, Hotelympia Excel in London.
Pastry chef and chocolate sculptor Mark McBride recently won a coveted silver medal at the International Salon Culinaire, Hotelympia Excel in London – one of the world’s leading competitions for hand-crafted works in fat, chocolate, marzipan and other foodstuffs.
His sculpture is now proudly on display as part of the Corinthia Palace Hotel & Spa’s recently-launched bakery range of delicious cakes, cookies and other treats.
Asked about what inspires his work, Mr McBride laughs and says, “Sleepless nights! After a 16-hour shift in the kitchen, I get home feeling wide awake – so I dream up designs for the competition. I guess it turned out to be worthwhile in the end!”
The piece is made of white chocolate couvertoure and it took six months to complete. The process involved tempering the chocolate with a clear shape in mind and then cutting it to make separate pieces for the final model. It was built using a reverse mould with chocolate poured into it layer by layer, and colours added individually.
“It’s somewhat hard to believe but that is all crafted from a single block of chocolate,” Mr McBride continues, relieved that the sculpture made it both to and from the UK in one piece! “I knew what I wanted to end up with before I started working and I was also inspired by the theme of ‘reversed seashells’. I started with a nautilus shell-shape and it developed from there. The result is very symmetrical and, in my opinion, aesthetically-pleasing.”
Mr McBride terms himself as something of a ‘late-bloomer’ when it comes to chocolate carving. He previously competed in static plate displays and live cooking, but came across a display of chocolate sculptures at an event six years ago and was instantly intrigued by it.
“I saw what had been made and knew I was able to do something different to what was being exhibited,” he says, adding that, in this competition, the judges remarked on how unusual his work was. “The head of the judging panel actually said that he hopes my techniques will inspire a new generation of pastry chefs to create chocolate sculptures in innovative ways. His words have certainly given me the drive to craft more and more sculptures in the future.”
Speaking on behalf of the Corinthia Palace Hotel & Spa, executive chef Stefan Hogan stressed that these competitions are an important part of any chef’s development within the industry.
“Contests such as this one, help to showcase artistic ability, and we are of course very keen to encourage our chefs in this respect. It is a great honour for the Hotel to have an award-winning chef of Mark’s caliber on our pastry team and I look forward to seeing what else he creates in the future.”
The Corinthia Palace Hotel & Spa Hand-Crafted Bakery is now open. Cakes are for sale by the slice at the Orange Grove, while whole cakes can be ordered just 24-hours in advance. Complimentary consultations with the hotel’s pastry team are also available.