As a self-proclaimed chef who chooses to focus on the savory and avoids pastry like the plague, I got a rude but sweet awakening at Richemont Masterbaker in JLT, Dubai. 

I had the chance to spend some time with Christiane Trilck, the Head of Academics, Pastry, and Chocolate at Richemont Masterbaker in Cluster E - the only institute in the Middle East that provides premium Swiss pastry and bakery training. 

The school is a descendant of the Richemont Centre of Excellence for Bakery, Confectionery, and Chocolate in Lucerne, Switzerland, and has been training pastry chefs since 1945. 

Christiane Trilck, Head of Academics, Pastry, and Chocolate at Richemont Masterbaker in Dubai, UAE. Source: Mirna Alsharif / StepFeed

The second you go in through the doors, hints of bread, cocoa, and sugar invade your nostrils. The school boasts a reception area with a library full of recipe books, an open classroom for presentations complete with chairs, and washrooms for men and women. 

The pièces de résistance are of course the two kitchens; one dedicated to pastry and the other to bakery. Each class can fit up to 16 students and is filled with state-of-the-art equipment sourced from Europe.

With 22 years of experience in pastry and baking under her belt, Trilck, who helped bring Richemont Masterbaker to fruition, stressed the importance of teaching her students the idea behind each recipe. 

"There are a lot of schools here that teach you how to execute a recipe but not how to understand it or the science behind it. Richemont explains how a recipe is developed, why certain ingredients are used, and what you can substitute certain ingredients with. When students are taught the function of each ingredient, it can help them create their own recipes," Trilck told StepFeed.

How does Richemont Masterbaker deliver such technical knowledge to students?

"We offer beginner, intermediate, and professional courses that run for five days a week, from Sunday to Thursday," Trilck said.

What can students expect to take away from these diverse courses?

"The beginner course is straightforward with simple recipes like how to make a sponge cake. The intermediate level is when we dig a bit deeper and learn about sugar syrups, meringues, ice creams, sorbets, butter meringue mixtures, all sorts of things. The professional course is more technical and is dedicated to chocolate, pralines, petite fours, decoration, and presentation."

"Students can also expect to learn how to solve problems in a pastry kitchen and even how to extend the shelf life of a product," she explained.

"When I joined the Richemont team, I wanted to ensure that we have the best equipment on the market here. We have very talented chefs and teachers that are here to support our students by making sure all their questions are answered," the chef emphasized.

Trilck's advice for people discouraged by baking?

"The ingredients won’t bite you! The most important thing is to understand the ingredient you’re using."

Is bakery a science or an art? 

"It is a science! That’s what makes it fun, you can experiment. I do agree that the savory kitchen is more open to improvisation but I promise, you can improvise in pastry too, once you master the ingredients. The worst case scenario is that you don’t like what you’ve made. It’s not the end of the world. Try again!"

One crucial question remained: Does Trilck still use a million measuring cups after so many years in the pastry and baking industry?

"For simple things, like a sponge cake or pancakes, I don’t need to measure anything. But if I’m making chocolate mousse, I'll need a scale."

And there you have it, perfection is possible after all.

For those of you who aspire to be the next Pierre Hermé, Richemont Masterbaker has brought Swiss excellence to Dubai, which means you won’t need a Schengen to learn from the best! 

Call +971 50 456 3753 to book your classes.