Pastry Chef Andrea Dopico | 2016 Valrhona C3 International Finals of Moments at the Mandarin Oriental

Pastry Chef Andrea Dopico | 2016 Valrhona C3 International Finals of Moments at the Mandarin Oriental
September 2016

Moments at the Mandarin Oriental
38-40, Passeig de Gràcia, 38, 08007
Barcelona, Spain

Venezuelan Andrea Dopico left home and the Southern hemisphere to study pastry at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts in Vancouver, British Columbia, where she graduated with honors. As part of her training, Dopico undertook stages back home in Caracas at Alto, which is ranked number 29 on San Pellegrino’s list of “50 Best Restaurants” in Latin America. Alto Chef Carlo Garcia mentored Dopico, instilling in her a love for the heat and the pace of the kitchen. Dopico next took that passion to Barcelona, Spain, to lead the pastry program at Michelin-starred Moments at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Working alongside Chef Carme Ruscalleda, Dopico is developing a style that reflects her broad travel and Latin roots. With a natural instinct for flavors and color combinations, Dopico is happiest when she’s working on new dishes for the restaurant’s tasting menu. She’ll, no doubt, put those skills to the test as she represents Spain (and Venezuela) in the Valrhona C3 international finale.

Interview with Pastry Chef Andrea Dopico of Moments at the Mandarin Oriental

Valrhona: Tell us about your pastry style. Who or what are your biggest influences?  
Andrea Dopico:
I feel that as a young chef I’m still developing my style. It’s been an incredible experience to discover myself through the plates I create, recognizing elements of childhood memories and travels as my biggest influence.

Valrhona: What’s your favorite dessert that you’ve ever made?
 A variation on the traditional Catalan dessert, similar to crème brûlée, was my first dessert to make it on the tasting menu of Moments. Goats milk tapioca, yuzu mousse and gel, caramelized almonds, liquid crema Catalana, and lace like nougatine were the components of this risky bet that Carme Ruscalleda named as “Nostra Crema Catalana.”

Valrhona:What was your first job in pastry?
Alto (Caracas, Venezuela), ranked number 29 in Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants. It was the place where I fell in love with the heat of the service, knowledge and care for your product, and fearless passion to break the standards.

Valrhona: Who are some of your mentors? What have you learned from them?
Chef Melinda, my school instructor at Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts, from whom I learned the values, ethics, and poise I want to emulate in my career. Carlos Garcia (Alto), is a chef that sees hardships as opportunities and his brigade as family. And Carme Ruscalleda (Sant Pau), who I admire for her respect of product, and delicate balance of flavors.

Valrhona: What is your planned training regimen for the competition? 
I’m spending every waking minute outside of work trying to perfect and polish this dessert. I’ve searched for the advice of the biggest Chef in Spain to guide me on this challenge to bring something to the final, that we all feel really proud of.

Valrhona: What’s your most important kitchen rule? 
On top of working clean and organized, I think it’s very important to work consciously. Analyzing how to make things better, faster, and more efficient. There has to be a connection with what you are doing.

Valrhona: How do you feel about representing your country at the International Finale of the Valrhona C3? 
I’m lucky enough to be representing two countries in this final. I’m representing the land one of the best cacao in the world—my home, Venezuela—and the country that gave me the opportunity to pursue my dreams, and thrive, Spain.  

Valrhona:Why do you think you are the potential winner? 
The fact that I’m a newcomer in the industry gives me an unfiltered perspective that can work to my advantage against my competitors. I’m giving it my all, and I’m enjoying every step of the journey.

Valrhona:How does the theme (the 30 years of Guanaja 70%) inspire you? 
Guanaja 70% is bold and elegant, and these are two elements I want to bring into my dessert to celebrate the trajectory of one of Valrhona’s signature chocolates.

Valrhona: What is your favorite quote you will try to keep in mind for the competition? 
“No great achievement is possible without persistent work.”—Bertrand Russell

Valrhona: What would it mean to you to win the competition? 
Valrhona is a brand, and a philosophy of professionalism and quality that I highly admire, so winning the C3 is the one of the highest recognitions for any pastry chef in the restaurant industry. This support would give me the platform to share my ideas, the motivation to never stop creating, and the best quality of chocolate to work with. Isn’t that the dream?