From ambitious pastry chef to world star in one day
Two years after Frank Haasnoot added the World Chocolate Master title to his record of achievements, a lot has changed in his career. From being an ambitious pastry chef with assignments luring abroad, Frank became a curious commuting globetrotter – putting his talent and expertise at the service of world’s most prestigious culinary enterprises. Time to catch up.
WCM organisation: Frank, how exactly did the title change your life?
Frank Haasnoot: “Well, winning the title did not as much change my personality – as it did change the perception people have of me. It has given me global recognition for what I do and creates high expectations. And that in turn drives me to push the boundaries time after time. Having become world champion, I highly see it as my duty to prove to the world why I earned this title. Just before winning the World Chocolate Masters, my work as demonstrator and product developer started to earn appeal abroad. Winning the World Chocolate Masters amplified this interest vividly, and carried me to the most vibrant places on earth.”
WCM organisation: Do you do things differently in your job compared to before winning the competition?
Frank Haasnoot: “I’ve always been very cocky as it comes to creating pastry and confectionery. I like to do things my way - as my mind conducts me to do them. Yet since then, I’ve had the opportunity to start and launch concepts really from scratch. And I love that. From setting up a chocolate decoration production unit in Asia to a luxury pastry shop in Kuwait or the opening of the Mandarin Oriental in Taipei: we could sketch out the ideas and give shape to them from the start. And that’s so rewarding.”
WCM organisation: Did the competition give chocolate a different meaning? A new dimension?
Frank Haasnoot: “Indeed. It changed the way I work with chocolate – since I gained a lot more experience. But what’s more interesting, is that - through travelling and working abroad - I’ve been adapting my choice of chocolate to the different cultures – responding to local eating habits or differences in culinary customs and habits.
WCM organisation: Back to the competition: what’s your most vivid memory to the competition?
Frank Haasnoot: “From the moment I decided to participate in this competition, I truly felt an incredible rush. The only things I could think of during the preparations were timings and deadlines. And then before I could breath, it was there. The final. The same rush again. It felt like I was moving with the speed of light … But the most memorable moment, was of course the award ceremony and the celebration. The relief and emotion of having achieved something extraordinary and celebrating that with friends, family and colleagues! That was amazing.”
WCM organisation: Where did you find your inspiration?
Frank Haasnoot: “I wanted to do something really extraordinary. And since I love gaming and fantasy, I decided to go for something that’s really 100% my style. It pushed to go all the way. Which you need if you rehearse and train for 2 years. Of course I couldn’t do apply that to the cakes, pralines and all the degustation items in the competition. So there, I tried to achieve something unique through exceptional techniques. It required trial and error, looking around to what skilled colleagues do with technique.”
WCM organisation: How intense were the preparations for you?
Frank Haasnoot: “Pretty heavy. It demands a lot from you, and from the people around you. That’s why it’s so important to gather a great team around you. And of course you need to establish a balance between work, private time and the competition. If you can’t find that balance, you can forget about it.”
WCM organisation: Did you have a sounding board for your trials and ideas?
Frank Haasnoot: “O yes. For every single part in the competition, I could count on an expert in the field who helped me to further develop the idea. As a member of the Dutch Pastry Team, I could really count on their advice and support. Jeroen Goossens and my colleague Robin Hoedjes were my coaches who supported me and guided me throughout the entire process.”
WCM organisation: A competition means tension, stress, things that won’t work as you expected. What was your greatest source of stress?
Frank Haasnoot: “O god… I vividly remember assembling crucial parts of the showpiece that caused tonnes of stress. And also the moments of cutting the cake and handing over the desserts… Those crucial moments where you want everything to be just right.”
WCM organisation: Is there any good advice you want to give to the new league of finalists?
Frank Haasnoot: “Everyone there, has made it for a reason: talent! But always stay true to your personal style – in everything you do. It’s not only a competition, but also a stage – a platform to promote your own ideas and your personality. Exploit that in everything you do.”