"The éclair concept follows the same trend that we have seen for the last 15 years with macarons or cupcakes for example". They are individual pastries that can be filled with many different flavours, have texture added to them and can easily be personalized with colourful glaze. "Éclairs provide a beautiful mix between ordinary snacking and haute patisserie, it is the perfect Superstar." We asked five questions to Philippe Richard, International technical advisor and pastry chef. He explains about superstar-concept development.
1. Recently Puratos has developed a concept around the world-famous éclair. Can you tell us a bit more about the Puratos éclair concept?
Puratos offers many different éclair solutions for its customers around the world from pâte a choux mix (Tegral clara super, easy bomba, Tegral choux), to fillings with custard or fruit and toppings with glaze. "With the éclair concept, we try to visualize the potential that the éclair offers to our customers by providing them with, for example, with great tasting recipes, a choice of flavour combinations, step-by-step video instructions and serving suggestions. We even invite customers to our local innovation center to help them to develop their own concepts or recipes."
"At Puratos, we give our customers the possibility to be on trend and enable them to answer to popular consumer demand. We give our customers the tools they need to stay on top of trends, by offering them products and recipes adapted to their needs. That's exactly what we have done with the éclair."
2. Where does the recipe inspiration come from?
“There are currently four pastry chefs that are working as international technical advisors, and more than 350 local technical advisors working in 46 Innovation Centers around the world. Each international technical advisor spends between 15 to 20 weeks abroad a year to see what new tastes and products are popular in different parts of the world. They use these insights to create new, trendy recipes.”
“When a product manager decides to develop new 'superstar recipes', the pastry chef gets carte blanche. There are no rules or restrictions. We try to keep an open mind and start with a clean sheet. A recipe idea can originate from a technical advisor's recent travel experiences. A pastry chef can propose any product thinks of. Everything can be an inspiration. Seasons or colours or a certain taste, shape or texture. I made one of my latest éclair recipes with a guest student from France at one of our innovation centers. And recently I’ve been working with citrus fruits such as lemon and yuzu as a starting point for my recipes."
â€‹3. How do you decide if a product is a potential superstar or a hype?
"As we travel a lot, we see what products are trendy in different parts of the world. Take the cronut for example. It was an absolute hit that came out of nowhere. Lots of people thought it was a hype that wouldn’t last. They were wrong. It started as a gigantic hit in New York, but then some weeks later it also came to Europe. Right now it’s still quite popular in Asia."
"For us it is important to look at the global opportunities of a product and then quickly switch to high gear. Taking the cronut again. Our first step was to make the recipe from scratch. We simply try to remake the product, taste it, alter it, and compare it to the original product. We identify what specific characteristics are important and then we turn to our current product range to see which existing ingredients we can use to make this product. For the cronut, we found a suitable existing premix. Although we are a big company, we are flexible and have a strong focus on innovation. The first cronut recipes were developed and tested in about a month. In the Philippines, Puratos has since developed a whole concept around the cronut as it’s still so popular."
4. How do you test new recipes or product solutions?
After a recipe or solution is created, it is thoroughly tested before it is brought on to the market. At Puratos we organize internal test panels consisting of pastry chefs, product managers and other colleagues that are asked to give their input and comments for each new recipe. The recipe is developed until it is perfected - sometimes taking up to three tasting sessions – when the final recipe is then ready for a photo shoot and will be integrated into a recipe booklet.
“We only present tried and tested recipes to our customers. You might wonder how we know if our recipes will meet consumers demands. Well, our internal tasting teams are very diverse and extremely critical. Everybody at Puratos can be considered an expert and they demand nothing but the highest quality. They are looking for the perfect product, perfect taste and perfect flavour combinations. It is an extremely critical, experienced and world-wise panel that will give honest, even if that means brutal, feedback. If they approve, it is ready for the market. Besides our internal tests, we also have our Puratos Sensobus, a mobile sensory lab where we provide our customers with the opportunity to test new products or recipes directly on their consumers."
5. How do you adapt a superstar concept to regional taste preferences?
All superstar recipes are developed with respect for local tastes and ingredients and can be adapted to suit local preferences. In the Philippines for example, Puratos sells a very popular mango filling that is not available in other parts of the world. When developing local recipes, we aim to incorporate these local preferences and local Puratos ingredients in the superstar concept.
But it also works the other way around. "In Brazil for example, éclairs are not that well-known or popular. During a meeting or demonstration with a client, we will try to give them an idea of the international trends in patisserie. We then show them the éclair concept and try to inspire them by showing the business opportunities of a product that is unfamiliar to them, but which might grow in popularity over time or potentially help them to answer the future demands of their consumers."