My history and career:
My dad was a banker and my mom a primary school teacher, at a young age baking was a pass time with my mother that turned to passion.
Unlike most of my friends, classical studies never interested me, since the age of 10 baking cakes and traveling excited me.
At the age of 14 years, I moved to Anderlecht at the boarding school Ceria for 5 years, where I completed my studies.
An experience I will never forget, I have learned to live in a community, a disciplined lifestyle and especially the shared passion with fellow students.
This passion, which still lives in me today. From my 1994 class of 28 students, I think that there are only a couple of us practicing this profession. And yes, this job is difficult and requires hard work, long hours and determination.
I still remember the bakery course every Saturday morning, I think we were the last school in Belgium active on the weekends.
I was going back home every Saturday around 15:00 as my school was 100 km away. At 6 p.m., I was in the kitchen of a 1 star Michelin restaurant for the Saturday night service, I loved working there, the Executive Chef had taught me to do the dessert cart, between the charlottes fruit, coffee brown sugar pie (which I still make today), the famous Tarte Tatin and other different desserts. I put all my heart, but above all I learned to work and understand the severity of this job.
This job helped me save a few thousand francs giving me the opportunity to buy my first car at the age of 18.
Graduated at 18 years of age, my dream and passion to travel was well inked in my head, but for this, I needed to gain experience.
In my small town of Dinant, I went to work in Wépion in a Luxury bakery.
The boss that I really liked taught me all he knew about pastry. After a year of experience in this business, I wanted more, and so I decided to go up to Brussels to work in alarger, more famous patisserie.
Even if I couldn’t join the well known patisserie teams I had in mind, I had the chance to work in well established patisseries.
At the age of 20 and with very little experience, I was contacted by a Belgian family who opened a bakery bar I in Bergamo – Italy. A great opportunity not to be missed!
So I left with one suitcase, motivation, drive and determination for the great adventure of learning whilst travelling and experiencing different patisserie cultures.
After 2 years in Bergamo, the Chief of the Four Seasons in Milan Sergio Mei asked me to join his team of pastry chefs. I told him at the beginning that my intention was to start in Italy and then travel all over the world to gain further professional experiences
He promised to help me do this and after a year and a half within his team, an Italian leader asked me to follow him to Egypt in Cairo to open the first Four Seasons hotel in the chain. Here I am at the age 23, head of a brigade of 12 confectioners, bakers in a 5* hotel.
Certainly the most beautiful experience in my career at a personal relationship level, a fantastic team with whom I still keep in contact with after more than 15 years.
The Four Seasons hotel was part of my professional career for 8 years, I had the chance to be part of the opening of Four Seasons Hotel Canary Warf, the Four Seasons Tokyo – Japan and last at the Four Seasons Hotel in Chicago in the United States.
All has not always been perfect, but what I could remember was that every moment, positive or negative experience is a learning opportunity!
Back in Belgium at the age of 31, I worked at the catering of the Court of the King of Belgium, even if the experience was rewarding, I strived for more.
Callebaut, chocolate manufacturer was looking for a Pastry chef to give trainings, demonstrations in their Academy but also overseas in Fairs & Exhibitions.
That’s a job I was dreaming of, to pass on my experience, my knowledge to business professionals.
When I started working at Callebaut in the Academy, I had the chance to work together with Jean-Pierre Wybauw who taught me a great deal in the world of chocolate, this gentleman is a real walking encyclopedia!
I was able to travel and share my passion in Italy, Poland, United Arab Emirates, United States, Brazil, Australia and others. Opportunities and luck in this business is that you meet a lot of professionals and therefore there are a lot of Exchange and that’s how we discover new ideas and we learn every day.
In 2014 we opened the new chocolate academy of Callebaut in Belgium, I am very proud, because of what my team and I achieved with this grand project, a place of reference for learning and development that is currently recognized worldwide.
Earlier I talked about my school of CERIA, In 2012 the school contacted me in order to become president of their competition “Jacques Saey” that showcases the talent of tomorrow in the artistic world of work in chocolate and sugar. A nice recognition and what a joy to be able to teach the students the values of our business.
I felt good as head of the chocolate academy in Belgium, however I still had goals i wanted to achieve
In 2016, I decided to create my own company “Pastry & chocadvice” and as the name suggests, the purpose is to give advise, help & solutions in the world of pastry and chocolate.
My relationship with Barry-Callebaut remained intact and I continue to work with them for training, research and development, finally in short everything I love.
After a year as an independent, I am pleased with my projects! There are still many projects that I am continually working on that motivates me as a Confectioner and Chocolatier.
Live your dreams and work hard to achieve them.