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SWEET WORLD/PROFESSIONALS

IGINIO MASSARI

Fruit charlotte

Sacher fantasia

Cake with ricotta and cream

Raspberry cake

 

Light and Linearity

A tour in Iginio and Marì Massari’s Pasticceria Veneto in Brescia.
He was the first Italian confectioner to be admitted in the celebrated Relais Desserts International association

Furniture goes almost unnoticed, giving the product maximum visibility. This is your first impression when you enter the Pasticceria Veneto of Brescia (www.pasticceriaveneto.com), and it is precisely this objective that Iginio Massari and his wife Marì wanted to reach with the latest refurbishment of their shop. "This one is the shop we wanted," explained the "most famous confectioner of Italy" to Pasticceria Internazionale during the visit.
What strikes you most is the amount of light, beginning from the linear counter all the way to the ceiling. "The current lighting system uses LEDs, which means we have increased the amount of light while reducing energy consumption by 80%. With long counters such as the one we have now, people are encouraged to start from the beginning, go all the way to the end and then return to the middle. Display is important because it is a form of direct advertising."

Dedicated display areas
The linear nature of the display serves a dual purpose: it facilitates service and it highlights products for customers. And it is difficult indeed to choose from the 130 types of mignon neatly arranged on refrigerated shelves in the counter, not to mention other sweets (oven-baked pies, semifreddos, and sweets of local tradition such as the Biscotti Bresciani) placed in dedicated areas and easily identifiable thanks to special tags.
The brioches also have their own compartment, protected by an illuminated showcase and fitted with a system for heating them when needed. But chocolate is the product that most needs a dedicated area, as Massari confirms: "Chocolate is a world unto itself and as a result it needs to be isolated from the rest of the offering. Since we introduced the island, praline sales have increased considerably. We need to offer a vast assortment because people are curious, and if given a wide choice they will buy more than what they intended."
Every sweet on sale is described in the product booklet, which contains the ingredients of each of the 436 items prepared by the confectioner and his nine-man team (in addition to a sales force of six). The booklet is available to clients, who can consult it using identification numbers and product photos. "We have also inserted a declaration regarding the presence of allergens. This is a delicate issue: making food for people who have allergies requires dedicated rooms and equipment, including even the dishwasher! To be honest, the figures do not justify the effort." The product booklet is updated every time a new sweet is created. But how does a new product come about at Massari's? "Every recipe is a fully-fledged project that takes into consideration aspects such as work, weight, volume, aromas, desirability, enjoyment, form, elegance, preservation, and the general sharing of aromatic flavours. Every product needs at least sixty days of study before producing it for sale. Normally, every year we offer twenty new products and we try to improve traditional offerings in order to bring them up to date."

Rationality in the workshop
The workshop, situated on the lower floor, is a model of spatial and above all work rationalisation based on an industrial work ethic. This term is always looked down on by confectioners, who make artisan quality their mantra. A clarification is therefore required: "I am all for technology," asserts Massari. "In the workshop we have all the machines imaginable, and before buying a new car I first think about a new machine. What I seek from technology is everything that helps improve quality, speed and precision, which is always a part of quality, while preserving the applicative intellect. For instance, cutting sponge using a machine instead of a knife does not jeopardize the quality of the product, it just takes less time and is more precise."
And so over a 380 m2 surface area, Massari has placed a semiautomatic sheeter, a robot for cooking creams, two enrobing machines, a chocolate tempering machine, a volumetric machine for weighing mixtures, a rounding cutter, a gelatine spraying machine, a computerised doser, a machine for cutting with water or laser, kneading machines, induction surfaces and computerised ovens including a gas-burning oven which, according to its owner, bakes perfectly and reduces the cost of electric ovens. "Manually some forms of baking are unimaginable," explains the founder of the Accademia Maestri Pasticceri Italiani (www.ampiweb.it).
Which takes us to the heart of Massari's production philosophy: large production volumes, made possible by machines, equipment and especially the use of cold technology. "Investing in cold products is more lucrative than everything else. We have a total of eight freezers in which we preserve products, labelled with the 90-day date of expiry. Depending on type, we freeze finished or raw products in their moulds, as is the case with the oven pies, which we produce on a daily basis. As specified by Italian law, clients are informed by the following declaration: our products have been cold treated at -20°C. As for quality and hygienic safety, the product remains whole and could easily last for up to six months if the cold is properly applied, i.e. if after cooling the temperature remains constant at -20°C. According to Massari, cold, especially that of third generation with added nitrogen that also helps in the sanification of the product, will represent the future of confectionary and more.
Rossella Contato


 

 

 

Customer and personnel relations
Marì and Iginio Massari's many years of experience are useful to understand to what extent personnel counts, both in the workshop and behind the counter, together with the ability of establishing a rapport with the client, for such a renowned business in continual expansion. This is what we found out.

Never neglect the client
Developing a rapport with the clientele is one of the key aspects that determine the success of a confectionary shop. Marì, who has always worked with her husband with everything regarding the presentation and sale of products, believes "the client should never be neglected. Our clients are used to receiving advice from us and from the staff, which is free to help the clientele in this regard. I am not sure why, but even new clients expect to find this type of trusted rapport." And, speaking of current trends, she adds, "A few years ago clients left more space for the presentation of products, for packaging. Today they are more concrete: they want more product, especially in the praline sector."

Staff harmony

"The biggest difficulties are those related to the ability of creating harmony among the personnel, bearing in mind that we have many employees," reveals Marì. "It is increasingly difficult to work in harmony because the work is continually on the increase. It is especially difficult to insert festivities into the daily routine."

Personnel selection

"The selection of sales staff is complex," asserts Iginio Massari. "People lack motivation; almost all the girls who do this job see it as a stopgap. As for confectioners, I have rarely made a mistake in my selection. I can feel what their goals are, their motivation, social and family condition, how they relate to others, how many languages they speak, their hobbies, and above all their sentimental bonds. All this I do with discretion, without overdoing it, but just aiming for a simple chat. Based on this I make my choices."

Internships

Massari receives about two internship requests every week, but "sadly I have to turn them all down because internships are not provided for under Italian legislation unless they are sent through provincial or regional schools.

“Even if you look at every detail, as soon as you finish furnishing a shop you want to start over because you notice all the defects”.