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A Canadian in Paris: Patisserie Queen Silvana Colosimo

July 4, 2010
Since I am extremely sentimental and emotional, I am inspired easily. I love the high it gives me so I constantly look for ways to refuel on that energy. There is one particular person who has inspired me greatly over this past year, and she does it each and every time she updates her status on Facebook or adds photos to her profile, and that person is my friend and a past co-worker Silvana Colosimo. Silvana and I worked together at Moxie’s a few years ago. I always remember a first impression of a person and that image will always stay with me, even as I grow to learn the person on different levels. Silvana is the type of person that always made me smile–and that’s because hers was so large it was impossible not to be infected by it. Her positive energy, constant encouragement and bubbly personality were all things that made me like her as much as I did. Since online social networking allows us to always stay connected even when we are apart, and since her close friend and soul mate SB still works with me I stayed in touch with Silly even after she left us at Moxie’s. I had heard her speak of her dreams to open up a bakery, but they always seemed like the type of goal someone talks about as if they could only achieve it in a fairytale version of their lives. So when I heard that Silvana had gotten accepted to Le Cordon Blue in Paris, France, I could not have been more excited for her. She was about to embark on what will probably be the greatest experience of her life while proving to the rest of us that it is never too late to achieve our goals and we really can live our dreams. Since my interest in travelling is feverish,  I have spent much time creeping her on Facebook and I must say that, being a lover of la belle ville of Paris, I have found myself both extremely jealous. In order to satisfy my curious appetite, I asked Silvana if I could do a short profile on her on my blog, because I a)am so ridiculously inspired by her and am dying to show the world her passion b)to be filled in on all the details of her adventure. We had ourselves a short little interview-styled-chat via FB and I’ve posted it below for you. So read up, and dream on my friends…
When I first met you at Moxie’s, I remember you talking about your dreams to be a pastry chef as something you believed in just as much as you believed in Santa Claus…what made you change your mind and turn those dreams in a tangible goal you were ready to achieve?

I grew up.. it took a while, but somehow one day I saw things a lot more clearly. I realized that there is no reason to be afraid to pursue any goal no matter how difficult it may seem. Instead, I should be afraid of missing those opportunities,and the regret looking back on what I could have achieved. I took a hope-full leap of faith I guess .

Usually, when people make such a big change in their life to move to a foreign country, to change a profession, to essentially start over, there decision is inspired, whether it be from a person or a life experience…was your choice inspired, and if so, by what or whom?
I have been blessed in my life with many life learning “inspirations” as you may call them. When I was younger I had a brain tumor, and it was a difficult time in my life. I realized at the time that there is no purpose in living in this world unless you are going to make the most of it. I call this a blessing, because after overcoming that difficult time in my life, I see things differently, and choose to look at life as a “sweet” adventure.. so right now I am on a baking one! Also, my family is and always will be my backbone.. and inspire me always to strive for the best!

What was the toughest part of leaving?

The toughest part of leaving was embarking on the unknown. I was starting from scratch.I didn’t know where I was going to live.. how to get around, how to speak French, and I didn’t know one person in Paris… leaving my family and friends behind was also tough.

What has been your favourite learning experience so far?

I have learned so much.. I realized that Patience is a great virtue in life,and in the kitchen. I compare a lot of things in life to baking.. like for example chocolate. It needs to be “tempered”. It needs to be handled and melted gently and slowly until it reaches the proper temperature so that it can be molded and shine. I guess in life we need the same patience in order to mold our lives and shine!

Your pastries are beautiful and seem so expert…what is favourite masterpiece to date and why?

I think this is a funny question because I feel far from expert at the moment! In France there are so many exquisite chefs..artists is a better word for them. Just when you think you can’t see or taste anything more delicious, you find something even better. I am learning more and more each day. I will be experimenting with my own flavors and textures when I get back to Canada. In the meantime I’m just an eager student trying to absorb as much as I can!
Is Paris home to you now or do you still plan to return home once you’re done your studies?

Right now I am living in the South of France in a town called Nice. I left Paris to come here to do my “stage”. I’ll be working for well known patisserie here. Saying good-bye to Paris was tough. It was home for me, and will always have a place in my heart.

What is your favourite part about living in Paris?

It feels like you’re living in a storybook everyday…

In your expert opinion, what is your favourite patisserie in Paris?
My palette loves Pierre Herme. Their macarons are mysteriously perfect. Something I think they hold the secret to. A slight crunch on the outside, moist and melt in your mouth on the inside. Many shops have tried to compare, but I don’t think any can. I also adore Ladure.
Pick your favourite French pastry, dessert or dish and why? Is there a reason for your choice besides taste, for example, the story behind the creation of the dish or perhaps the person who created it?

This is a toughy! I guess when it all come down to it, the croissant will always be my favorite. When made right, with really good French butter, and just out of the oven, they are heavenly!! when I get back to Canada I will try to import the French butter!

You are currently moving to Nice for the summer for an additional program…what will you be learning there?
I am working in a gorgeous Patisserie called Canet. They make everything from gelato, to chocolate, to entremets, to cakes. I will be learning how to make all of these things there.

Once you finish up at Le Cordon Blue, what will you do with all the knowledge you have gained and the skills you have enhanced?

I graduated with a patisserie Diplome at Le Cordon Bleu Paris this past June. I started with only minimal baking skills. They taught us slowly with the basics, and worked us up to more complicated techniques. Everything we learned was done without electronic equipment, so all whipping, beating, turning, rolling, cutting,etc. was done with my very own hands and arms. I think my right arm is now stronger than my left, haha.
What are your dreams for the future?

I have dreams of owning my own Patisserie one day soon.

What has been the toughest part of your experience? The most rewarding? The most discouraging?

In a big City like Paris it is tough not to feel lonely at times. I missed my family a lot, especially on those cold, damp, winter days.Big cities can make you feel very small.
This whole experience has been the reward. I loved every minute of this adventure, and still am. The most discouraging part was learning another language. When I got to Paris I didn’t speak a word of French. Everything I learned in grade school had faded. I was shy all over again, just like a child. I now have a better grasp of it, but it’s funny to see people’s facial expressions when I speak to them. I instantly know when I have said something that doesn’t make any sense.

What advice can you offer other people starting off in your field?
I think it’s important to know that even though baking seems fun, and sweet there is so much hard work involved. It is far from glamorous behind the scenes. there are some crazy hours involved in some very hot kitchens. If you love it though, your passion for it will keep you going regardless of all the work. Do it, follow you dreams!

Also, people in the same position as you, who may be starting out a bit later?

In my opinion, age should never be a deciding factor on pursuing ones dreams. There is a certain confidence that comes with starting out at a later age. I know myself better now than I did when I was twenty. I have very few doubts about what I want to accomplish.
If you could do it all over, would you change anything you did?
Nothing at all, I am very thankful these days.

Thank you Silly, for being such a willing candidate for my first ever blog interview, and also for being the amazing person that you are! Congratulations on all your accomplishments and I can’t wait to come visit your Patisserie in Par-ee!!
As I’m sure you’ve noticed, I’ve posted a few shots of Silvana’s amazingly decadent creations…it was tough to pick which ones to post but there are many more!
4 Comments leave one →
  1. July 4, 2010 3:18 pm

    Paris will always be my favorite city! Nice is always a lot of fun too! I so envy you….sighHave a wonderful time and post lots of pictures!Dennis

  2. July 4, 2010 5:06 pm

    What an inspiring story! Love the interview and pictures!

  3. July 5, 2010 4:03 am

    Fantastic Interview…loved it! Only problem is I'm feeling quite hungry…

  4. July 6, 2010 12:41 am

    What a lucky girl! can she fed ex some treats to woodbridge?

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