Jessical Préalpato talks about the pressures of being labelled the World’s Best Pastry Chef and gender equality within the restaurant industry as she is commissioned to create a special dessert for the France Pavilion at Expo 2020.
French pastry chef, Jessica Préalpato has been commissioned to create a special dessert for Expo 2020 in her role as ambassador to the France Pavilion. Euronews caught up with her at Brasserie Boulud at the Sofitel Dubai the Obelisk as she created her first incarnation of this dish.
Awarded The World’s Best Pasty Chef in 2019, voted by the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, she currently works alongside Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénéé in Paris. An honour she says comes with a certain pressure.
"[It brought] a lot of pressure because the people who tasted it say it's the best dessert in the world... it's good or not good. So it's very important to me and I was very stressed."
Préalpato grew up in Mont de Marsan in the south-west of France where she was surrounded by fresh local produce, something she still likes to incorporate into her dishes. Using ingredients including watermelon, semolina, dates, cardamom, mint, tarragon and laban she wanted to ensure she gave a nod to the local flavours of the middle-east in this special recipe.
A trailblazer and role model to many females in the industry she reflected on how the industry has changed to address gender equality.
"I began in the industry 20 years ago and it was very difficult to be a girl in the kitchen. I started in a Michelin restaurant and we were two girls out of 25 men. So it was very difficult to take your place", she said.
The daughter of pastry chefs she wasn’t always destined to follow in their footsteps having originally chosen to study psychology. She told Euronews she soon realized what made her happy and decided to study ‘Cuisinier en dessert de restaurants’ at the Hotel School of Biarritz. This catapulted her onto a career trajectory that has seen her work in France, Dubai, Tokyo, Beirut and St. Petersberg.
An the concept creator of guilt free desserts she likes to apply a ‘naturalness’ approach to her dishes - in this case using the natural sugars from the fruits as well as the odd drizzle of honey.