For the first time, the prestigious prize goes to an Italian. From Rome, and already the winner of numerous international awards, Malizia will be reigning champion for 10 years
Davide Malizia is the “Meilleur Tireur de Sucre Artistique du Monde”, or rather, the “Best Sugar Artist in the World”. Presented with the award in Rome, at a major event at Palazzo Naiadi, on Sunday 6th September, the pastry master from Rome was the first Italian to win the prestigious title, following two editions brought home by Gabriel Paillasson and Stephane Klein.
Indeed, it is an international recognition that is awarded to those who have left their mark in terms of style, aesthetics, technique and innovation while working artistically with sugar over the last 10 years. The organisation to assign the award is Déco Relief, a long-standing French company specialising in professional materials and ingredients for Haute Pâtisserie.
“Receiving this award is a huge satisfaction,” commented Davide Malizia. “I consider this prize legendary, also taking into account the incredibly high standards of my predecessors, Gabriel Paillasson and Stephane Klein.” I never thought I could actually win it, so it was a big surprise and a double honour. It is an important step in my career, which rewards everything I’ve done in sugar art up until now in the best possible way.”
There was no lack of emotion: “I’ve been working with this material, which is so transient but so magical, for 20 years,” added Malizia. “My parents passed away together many years ago. I come from a family of potters, more specifically, ceramic sculptors. They left me a gift that I’ve been able to hone over time: the art of manipulating material, which I’ve applied to sugar. That’s because I have dedicated my career to pastry. In my opinion, sugar art is the highest form of expression for a pastry chef. When I started, I was one of just a few. So many people told me, ‘You can’t make a living from sugar.’ But I always believed in my passion, and today, I am crowning my dream.”
Together with Iginio Massari, Paillasson, the founder and honorary president of the Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie said, “I am particularly proud to present this prize, which sees youth combined with talent at the heart of this edition.” There with him, as guest of honour, was Massari, elected the World’s Best Pastry Chef at World Pastry Stars 2019. He commented, “This is such an important and valuable recognition, also because of its ‘rarity’. It is awarded every 10 years, which means that, in a century, there will only be 10 sugar artists to hold this title. Davide Malizia is one of those, and for a decade, he will be the reigning champion, bringing the name of Italian pastry to the fore on an international level.”
Alongside Gabriel Paillasson, a panel made up of Frédéric Bonnet, former technical director of the École Nationale Supérieure de Pâtisserie (ENSP) in Yssingeaux, Alain Lambert, founder of Déco Relief, and Pascal Molines, MOF and World Pastry Champion, judged the winner, who was chosen from the very best in the field worldwide.
The panel unanimously voted for Malizia. Lambert confirmed that, “Having followed Master Malizia’s creations for several years, you couldn’t fail to notice his tremendous development and technical ability. His prestigious ‘Aromacademy’, established in Rome in 2015, is proof of his hard work, love for the profession and desire to impart his know-how.”
And that wasn’t all: “Davide Malizia will represent Italian excellence in France alongside the Déco Relief team. To this end, a new range of products resulting from this collaboration will be developed.”
Confartigianato Alimentazione, represented by Augusto Cestra, Regional President of Confartigianato Dolciario Lazio, sponsored the event.
What makes a difference when it comes to excellence?
I think there’s a big difference between executing something and being an artist. There are some great “executors” in this field, who are really good. However, I’ve always been convinced of one thing: talent isn’t something that can be acquired and certainly can’t be bought; it’s an innate characteristic that only Artists, with a capital “A”, have. I believe a natural flair gives you that extra something, but training is definitely essential as well. Discipline and commitment allow you to achieve great results and, together with talent, even enable you to reach prestigious pinnacles like the Sucre d’Or.
How do you see the future of sugar art?
This field fascinates the new generation in particular, young people who are going into the pastry profession. To those who aren’t experts, it may seem like an area that is, on the one hand, too difficult and, on the other hand, “pointless”, because you don’t eat sugar art sculptures. However, on closer inspection, what does emerge is the enormous potential of these sculptures, which are used more and more in high-level pastry. Just think about shop windows, which can be enhanced spectacularly with artistic sugar creations, or the increasing demand for sculptures for events and ceremonies. Last but not least, costs need to be considered. As one of my great masters, Iginio Massari, always told me, sugar art is the most difficult, but it’s also the cheapest. What I’m trying to say is that, especially for new pastry chefs, the “secret” lies in your manual skills and in your art. Learning how to work with sugar is an important professional card to be able to play, also from a practical and financial perspective, taking into consideration the cost of the raw material, which isn’t very restrictive, and the wide range of application.
Do you have any advice for those who want to compete and create their own artistic style?
When you’re going into a sugar art competition, what I always say is: never look at books or at what’s gone before because you tend to copy and create things that have already been done, even if they look good and you do them well. Instead, you need to create something that’s inventive and conceptual. It’s a creative process that goes on for a long time; it takes years to develop your own style. I can tell you from experience. People are remembered for the mark they make, for their stylistic signature and technique. I think that’s the case in many artistic environments and not just when working with sugar.