We love her. Not only for her amazing sweets but also for her positive attitude. For her company's support of social issues such as the fight against breast cancer. Melina Chatzipanteli in a ''sweet'' interview!
What inspired you to become a professional pastry chef? What do you love about your work?
I have studied in a completely different field, computer science, but I always loved pastry and cooking.
When I lost my mother, Soula, something hit me: it was a wake-up call for me to pursue what I truly love. I add honey (Meli in Greek) and MeliSoula came to life! What I love is that I add sweetness to every day and celebrate moments of people.
What training has prepared you for this role?
I believe in continuous learning, so you have to stay up to date no matter what pieces of training have you done. Personally, I have acquired a lot of certificates not only for pastry and sugarcoat, but for wine, coffee and marketing as well.
Of course, I am trying to attend every training that seems relevant to my personal and professional growth.
What are some of your favorite flavor combinations? What do you like making the most?
I love the shapes that sugar coating can offer especially in birthday cakes. It is very demanding though and you have to be very careful. Flavor combinations... this is a tough one! In Melisoula's Pastry Studio, we offer a variety of flavors based on consumer demands and needs.
My personal favorite is most probably the red velvet cake!
Do you offer desserts for those with special dietary needs?
Undoubtedly! As I mentioned in the previous question, you always have to stay up to date in the industry you are working on.
People are now very cautious of what they consume and they seek healthier options, like oat flour, and sugarless or eggless cakes.
Allow me to say that it is very hard to adapt traditional/original recipes into healthier ones while keeping the same taste but we do respect the dietary needs and preferences when someone places an order.
What do you think are the major challenges of this job?
You have to be ahead of the competition and you also need to grow and respect your community. And what do I mean? On social media and Google, you can find pastry chefs that seemingly do exactly what I do and they might be cheaper or closer.
To be able to overcome this challenge, I need to respect my community and offer them a lot of options, and new ideas while also keeping high-quality ingredients.
To summarize, I would say that the biggest challenge is to keep a balance between all the aspects of this job: from taking an order through Instagram and finalizing the cake or the cake pops, or the cookies to the package you have for your clients.
What is your signature dish?
My signature pastry dish is definitely my butter cookies which can be made in many many different ways, shapes, and flavors.
These cookies are being turned pink each October to celebrate the month of awareness against breast cancer.
What chefs do you follow on social media (or admire their work and career in general)?
When it comes to inspiration I have to mention Sarah Britton, a Canadian nutritionist, and chef with healthy plant-rich recipes, who is an inspiration for me and my lifestyle, and Stephan Perrote, one of the best french jam chefs.
But of course, I admire all the greek chef "stage" from Akis Petretzikis to Madame Ginger.
How do you define yourself?
Rebellious! I always see what is out there how can I become a better person, what can I do differently, what knowledge should I bring in, and so on and so forth. I never rest on my oars and throughout the years I realized that I will continue to be a rebel in everything I do.