Podcast Episode 71

Legendary Pastry Chef Ewald Notter Talks About the Future of Pastry Arts

Ewald Notter | 38 Minutes | December 6, 2022


In today’s episode, we speak with our guest Ewald Notter—teacher, pastry arts gold medalist, and the first pastry chef inducted into the Pastry Art and Design Hall of Fame.

Between winning numerous gold medals in pastry competitions and becoming a founder and Director of Education at Notter School of Pastry Arts in Orlando, Ewald shares his best career advice and how he approaches pastry arts across multiple cultures.

Listen as Ewald talks about opening one of the most popular coffee shops in Bellevue, WA, helping the US Team achieve its only Gold Medal at the Coupe du Monde in Lyon, and the future of pastry arts.

Watch the podcast episode:

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Notes & Transcript

TRANSCRIPT

Kirk Bachmann: Hi everyone, my name is Kirk Bachmann, and welcome back to The Ultimate Dish. In today’s episode, I’m speaking with Ewald Notter, a master of modern day confectionery arts known as a celebrated competitor, eminent teacher, and esteemed author. Chef Notter was the founder and former director of education of Notter School of Pastry Arts in Orlando, Florida, and the first pastry professional inducted into the Pastry Art and Design Hall of Fame. He has worked and competed in over 15 countries, winning numerous awards, including several gold medals, as well as National and World Pastry Team Champion and Pastry Chef of the Year. As part of the 2001 National Team, he scored 699 out of 700 helping the U.S. team achieve its only gold medal to date.

Ewald has been honored by the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences with the 5 [Star] Diamond Award as one of the finest confectionery chefs in the world. In 2017, along with his business partner, Sarah Doud, he opened Dote Coffee Bar, which is currently one of the most popular coffee shops in Bellevue, Washington, which is the Seattle area’s tech and finance hub.

Join me today as I chat with Chef Notter about the art of the confectioner, the art of the chocolatier, culinary competitions, and the future of pastry.

And good morning, Chef. There he is. How are you?

Ewald Notter: Good morning, Kirk. Thank you. I’m feeling well.

Kirk Bachmann: Wonderful. That was one heck of an intro. We’re going to have to take all of that apart step by step. To set the tone, then, you’re still – after many years in Florida – you’re in the beautiful state of Washington. Is that right?

Ewald Notter: Yes, that’s correct. I’m in the state of Washington. I’m very happy here. Finally, it started to rain after four months. When people see rain here, they’re all laughing and happy.

Becoming a Pastry Chef in Switzerland

Kirk Bachmann: Be careful what you wish for, because you’re going to get plenty of rain. I had my years in Oregon.

I have to say, I’m really delighted. So good to see you. We’ve met a few times over the years. I’m a big, big fan. Ich kann ein bisschen Deutsch sprechen auch. We’ll get into that.

I love your social media. The beauty of your showpiece is just absolutely fabulous. I’d love to unpack this for everyone and go way, way back. Born and raised in Switzerland. Tell us a little bit about where you’re from, and how you found pastry as your passion.

Ewald Notter: Let’s just say it. I was born in Switzerland, in Fislisbach close to Baden. The part of Switzerland. Also when you grow up in Europe, you have to make an apprenticeship, right? At the age of 14, you better decide which way you’re going to go. This was the most difficult thing for me. I couldn’t decide. So my teacher advised me to do a stage in either winter decoration or carpeting, or in a pastry shop. He was right. He knew me best. I went to a pastry shop and did a stage for a week, and I fell in love with pastry.

I was so excited. I like sweets. I like to create things. It all came together. I started to do my homework again. I became a different person. On an apprenticeship, you go one day to school a week, and you work four days, so I think it’s ideal. Three years or four years, you make your test and you move on. It was great.

Kirk Bachmann: My father, I’ve mentioned to you, is a Meister. Received his Meisterbrief in Germany. The same thing: he tells me about his three-year apprenticeship, and then for six years, he was a journeyman going from shop to shop. I’m not sure it’s the same in Switzerland, but in Germany –

Ewald Notter: It was similar.

Kirk Bachmann: Is it? Yeah. At the time, you could work in a bakery or a bake shop, but in order to own a bake shop, you had to make your Meister. Is that similar in Switzerland?

Ewald Notter: Yes. I think that there you can own a shop, but you can’t have apprentices. You need to make the master test correct, which is good. I think it’s great to go back to school after five or six years. It’s a good education.

Kirk Bachmann: You had a mentor or a counselor that suggested a few different things, and you went the pastry route. Was it always pastry and always sweets, or were you tempted by the savory side as well, cuisine?

Ewald Notter: Not at all. I grew up, and I wasn’t the person who was in the kitchen with my mother and grandmother baking cakes and stuff. I was in this and in sports and nature. Mother was creative, and I knew I was better than most other people in school. It was perfect getting me to pastry. It was very new and also more exciting for me.

A Network of Good People

Kirk Bachmann: Were there some major influences along your path other than you teachers? Were there some people, chefs, that were doing amazing pastry at the time that you looked up to?

Ewald Notter: At that time, everything was new to me. Not at the beginning, but later on of course, the most influential person was maybe Willy Pfund. I took classes in sugar decoration. He was a very funny, open-hearted person. Spontaneous. Maybe not the cleanest, but I did the point. He took me under his wings. I worked with him for two years, after, every evening from five to nine. I learned a lot, and we experienced a lot. It was a great time. He was one of my mentors.

Later on, I met, funny, I met Gabriel Paillason. I competed against him. He is the founder of the Coupe du Monde. Then I saw his ribbons on his showpiece. I was so attracted, and I wanted to learn more, eager to do the same kind of ribbons and get the same kind of shine.

Later on, if I may say, when I head to school, it was not important. Olivier Bechard, I had him as a guest teacher – he taught me about art, how to structure a piece, the base, the height, the color, and so on. Maybe the most creative people, maybe Stéphane Tréand, or Stefan Nehru.

These are people I liked to be in touch [with], to be friends, to share, exchange. It’s good. it’s very important to have a network of good people.

The Most Important Things

Kirk Bachmann: For the students that will listen, they’ll hear about the pastry arts, and then they’ll hear about this field within that field: sugar work. Can you do one without the other, or was it important for you to have an incredible foundation in pastry technique first before you ventured into sugar work?

Ewald Notter: I honestly believe sugar work is not the most important and top of the creation either. But it goes along with it and helps to create a beefier table and make a customer happy.

But honestly, most important is clean work, good flavors, and getting to know the techniques. The basic is most important. Once you know the basics, [whether] in pastry or once you know the technique in decoration – once you know how to cut out, how to draw, how to cast, and all these things – creativity comes through you, yourself. But if you don’t know the basics, you get frustrated more and more.

That’s important, step by step, and the rest will come.

Kirk Bachmann: Certainly. You mentioned several mentors and people you worked with and connected with. How important is mentoring the next generation to you? You’ve been a teacher. You’ve run a culinary program – a pastry program. How important is it for you to give back to the next generation.

Ewald Notter: It’s the most important thing and the most satisfying thing, too. Life is giving and taking. We have to give to get. Don’t forget to give back. Especially in America, people are very generous to show their love to you, or how you connect.

Definitely, as a teacher, the most important thing is seeing students getting successful or admiring what you do. Be always critical and open. Not always the easiest thing, to criticize a piece, but you have to find the right words at the right time. That will bring you the success.

Kirk Bachmann: Well said. Very humble. Obviously, you didn’t just wake up one day and win a gold medal, the Coupe du Monde. There’s a lot of work behind the scenes, a road that is heavily traveled, to receive prestigious awards. When you think, Chef, about your journey as a pastry chef, from your apprenticeship, school, to working in various restaurants under various chefs, competing in elite culinary competitions, then teaching and launching your own pastry arts school, were there some very important, pivotal moments? It basically defined you. You knew you had arrived at what you set out to achieve. Tough question.

Ewald Notter: It’s a long questions. A lot of elements. The most pivotal moments maybe [were] opening the school, writing a book, or winning the Coupe du Monde. It’s very different today when it was in ‘80s and in the ‘90s. We needed to compete to get our name out. There was no social media. We had to compete to get the name out, and then you got invited to do demos.

The most important thing to competition, before the competition, because you work in a certain timeline. You’re working from the people. You have to get it done. The people that judge how you come across, how clean you work, how it tastes, that was very important. Maybe I had an advantage on other people because of that. You win a competition. I was used to working in front of people.

But still, it’s a lot of work. If I may say, also, when I knew I was going to a certain competition like Coupe du Monde, I went there two years before. I was the dishwasher for the former team, but I got a sense of how to get there, what the judges are [like], what the facility [is like]. The equipment. Is it humid? All this is very important. It’s not just train, train, train. You have to get a sense of where you are going, and who is judging you.

You cannot just do what the last team did to win. You have to figure out [How] do I beat their win? But you have to top it, otherwise you won’t win. That means if you top it, you have to take risks. Then, the demos become very helpful, and teaching becomes very helpful again. Because you make mistakes all the time, and you break a piece, but you have to put it back together. If you don’t have the knowledge or you don’t bring it with you – you don’t believe in yourself – it’s easy to fail.

Not that I’m better than anybody else, but I had a good team around me and coach me. They could ask for advice, and you’ll make it happen. But it doesn’t mean you need to win. Just go in there and put everything you have in it.

People say, “Oh, it was fun.” Hell! What was fun? It was not fun! It was hard work. If I want to have fun, I’d play soccer or go to the beach. Competition is hard work, because you don’t want to make a fool out of yourself, and you want to make the sponsors proud of you. It’s a whole process, but that’s what I had in my mind and how I work.

The Customer Experience

Kirk Bachmann: It’s wonderfully said. You mentioned something right before this. You mentioned, “To make the customers happy.” This is a question I like to talk about with many hospitality professionals and teachers: this idea that you have to love your customers. You have to really want to try to please them. How important has the customer response been to you throughout your career?

Ewald Notter: It’s the key to success. There’s no doubt about it.

It’s not only myself, but my staff or the person in front of the coffee shop. She may be the first person at the coffee shop the customers are greeting. The customer gets a smile, “How are you? Today we have this and that. We’re trying a new recipe.” She is the spokesperson. She introduces you to the customers. I cannot enforce that enough how important that person is! The customer, they come back because of that smile. Listen, if you make a mistake, which happens all the time in the kitchen, but if the front person is nice and friendly to you, you forget about it. It’s okay. But if she doesn’t please you, “Oh my God, we will not come back!”

Also, in the kitchen, we do coffee and ganaches. We marry, basically, chocolate and coffee. All the flavors in the coffee comes through the ganache. I can make the best ganache, best mouthfeel, best flavor, but it doesn’t pair well with the chocolate, so I have to change it. Even if I like it, if my partner doesn’t like it, or my customer, I have to strong enough and say, “Okay. Let’s try this and that.” It’s team work. A customer is the most important thing.

Kirk Bachmann: It’s the validation. Really well said.

I want to come back to the hard work again. I’ve been privileged to speak with a number of gold medalists from competitions of all sorts. The common theme, when asked how to prepare for such an occasion, is this idea of practice. And respect for the craft, respect for the techniques, the foundations. My question, Chef, is more around when competition becomes very important in your life, any advice on how to balance life and work and competition? Because there are so many other people – family, friends – who are counting on you, but yet you’re so focused on the competition. How did you balance life with that?

Ewald Notter: Well, I was lucky enough to have my own school when I did my competition, or lucky enough to have the right employer. It’s most important that the family and the employees are with you if you do a big competition. You need some time off. You need support. You need the right critics.

Of course, practice, practice is the most important thing, but if you go the wrong way, you can make the pieces 20 times. You need criticism. It is sometimes very difficult to absorb the criticism because we have this idea, and sometimes you don’t want to give up. You think, “I’ve spent so much time on that idea. I cannot change.” You have to be flexible and open-minded, but still believe in yourself.

Very important: You have to find out who is judging. Why did the last piece win? What are they looking for? We have to read the rules. Many people fail because they didn’t follow the rules. The most important things are the easiest things.

Simplicity and Innovation

Kirk Bachmann: That’s incredible feedback. I was just going to ask about the culture and the intensity of pastry competitions – or any competition. I’ve competed a lite bit and there is, obviously, like you say, you have to do your homework. You have to maybe even know the judges and what they tend to be looking for.

Has it changed? You mentioned the ‘80s and ‘90s and you had to compete at a very intense, high level. There was no social media. People needed to discover who you were. Is it easier to put things on social media and get that sort of following than it was 20 years ago?

Ewald Notter: I think it’s a different skill. It’s a different skill on social media. I follow social media, too, and I follow the pieces. Everything is perfect. I tell you what: perfection and beauty can be boring, very boring. Because it’s perfect! But if you compete and you do a demo, people can read you. They can see you. They get the vibe. That’s more important. You can’t get this vibe through social media, but that’s what it is today. I have to do it. I have to live with it.

On top of, I think we’re going in the wrong direction. People make “Instagram-able” right? I was invited to teach in different schools, and they asked me to make a three-foot showpiece with 20 people. I said, “That’s impossible in three days.”

“Well, two people can work on a piece.” Well, I did it, but I didn’t go anymore because I’d had it. I know it’s wrong. People have to work themselves. Not everybody is well-rounded and skilled in sugar or in decoration. They don’t have the eye. You have to be able to teach each person. I think the most difficult thing is something little, exciting to put on a table. Something everybody can do. I get more excited if I see a decoration or a flower or whatever, a small showpiece, and I think, “Wow! So simple. Why didn’t I get that idea? Why didn’t I get that?” That’s what excites me more than a life-size horse-cart out of chocolate. I respect the hand skills and the eye and whatever it takes to make it, but for me, it’s not creativity. Simplicity. That’s the most important thing. Putting something at the table that makes the customer happy. Wow. Excited. Something everybody can learn.

Kirk Bachmann: I love the concept of simplicity and the customer being happy. You know, Chef, you are so respected and known as an innovator in pastry arts, everything from your ability to not only make artistically stunning showpieces, to you point, but pastries and desserts that literally send your taste buds to heaven. It’s magical. When you are developing new recipes, and it sounds like you’re still developing new recipes, what is that process like? Are these items from your imagination, or do you sometimes look to improve on other classical recipes, for example?

Ewald Notter: I tell you what, I get confused going through the media or the internet. I get very confused, and I think I do everything wrong. I put this aside. But innovation comes from a need. When we opened the coffee shop, Dote, Sarah said, “We have to do something different. There are two hundred coffee shops Bell [Bellevue] There’s no way! How can we be different?”

That’s when we came out with the ganache. It was years ago, the same thing in the ‘80s and the ‘90s. We did decoration when we were employed by Sprüngli. We could never say no to anything a customer wants. There were three people, then we had to do the window. We had to orders, cakes. It was very stressful. In the ‘80s, we did silicone molds. We did stencils. We did all the stuff, and later on, because companies took over and put money in it.

Innovation comes from a need. Also, how shall I say, work. It’s just work. The more we do something, the better your eye gets. The better your color gets. It’s work.

Kirk Bachmann: The term Dote: I love that for the name of a gathering place. Typically, it refers to being very fond of. Dote on you. Was that by design.

Ewald Notter: That was exactly the source. I didn’t understand dote. A lot of people come in and say, “How is Dote-ay?”

I say, “Dote-ay? It’s Dote.” We have to explain. You got it right.

It’s a place to meet, to gather, to join together. That’s what we want.

Kirk Bachmann: I absolutely love that.

Today, we’re talking about social media. We’re talking about technique. Are there some trends in either sugar work or pastry that you have noticed? For example, I love the idea of simplicity, small items that make your guests happy. Here at Escoffier, we spend a lot of time focusing on petit gateau. We don’t spend too much time on large cakes. We try to make it very simple so the student can achieve it, take it home to their families.

Ewald Notter: That’s the way it is. Exactly.

I thought about that. I knew that question would come up. Very difficult to stay. I believe we get back to classical, maybe in a different way. Maybe smaller. Maybe different flavors, maybe a different look, but the classic – that’s the way to go. That’s what it is today, unless I read the social media wrong or I read people wrong. But whatever I see, it’s back to basic, back to classic with a different twist. Different flavor.

Teaching Here and Abroad

Kirk Bachmann: I agree. I want to talk a little bit about the school. It’s one thing to be successful, as you have been in pastry arts and competition. You take your legacy to a whole other level if you start your school, put your name on the school, and then try to teach others. What was the motivation to open a pastry school? How hard was that?

Ewald Notter: I want to say it doesn’t matter how many medals you win or whatever, you’re only as good as you are today.

If I may go back, when I took classes with Pfund he offered me his school. After two years, he said, “Do you want to take over? I’m 70 years old.” I said, “Yeah, I would love to.” It was too early for me, way too early. I was 28 years old. I did it. I took a credit, and I did it. After one year, he came back to me and said, “I’m so bored. I don’t meet people. I miss the socializing. Can I get my school back?” Of course, I couldn’t say no. I sold him the school back, and I opened another school in Zurich. There was Pfund and then there was Notter, and it became Notter, and they competed under my name. So I didn’t know anything else.

Then, I was invited to America to teach. Then I finally moved to America. I was very close with an import company, Albert Uster Imports. We talked together and I worked with them. Once you’re successful, other people copy you. What happened was a lot of import companies opened up a kitchen. They invited guest teachers, and they offered classes for free. But pastry chefs vie for the best customer. This was my bread and butter, and I felt they took away what I did for years.

I was forced to move on, and that’s when I opened the pastry school in Orlando, and I opened it under my name. I just didn’t think any[thing of it]. It was very normal.

Kirk Bachmann: I’m interested in all of your travels around the world. After the school closed, you focused on teaching in different pastry schools around the world – Asia. This was all before you relocated to Washington to open up the business. Obviously you’re from Switzerland. I have a good understanding of the importance of pastry in Germany, Austria, France, Italy. Can you talk a little bit about pastry and the importance of pastry in Asia, for example?

Ewald Notter: I was very early invited to Japan, in the ‘90s. I couldn’t believe how much they were focused on German pastries and French pastries.

Kirk Bachmann: Oh, wow!

Ewald Notter: I thought, “They have so much culture, this country. So much culture. Why do they concentrate – why do they want to make French and German pastry?” I couldn’t understand that. Later, I went to China and India and all these different countries. Then, I saw when the Internet came – Instagram and all this – you can see everything. It doesn’t matter where you go, you see the same pastry everywhere.

But earlier, it was interesting for me to work when I went into a country to teach. I didn’t know what equipment they had, what kind of sugar they had. The isomalt was not available. I had to work with these people even if we could hardly talk together, but we created a bond. We created something together and we’d taste. “It looks good.” And it becomes a friendship for a whole life.

They always wanted to know what their tastes are. It is very interesting. I believe it went away a little bit because of social media. Everybody [who] cooks sees each other. Everybody among American. I believe it should be, when you go to a certain country, even if it is Austria or Germany or Switzerland, you should feel where you are by eating the pastry or eating a meal, and that got lost a little bit, I believe.

Speaking of Sugar Work…

Kirk Bachmann: What about sugar work in other parts of the country? As important as it is here, and to you?

Ewald Notter: When I go back to Europe, I see less and less, of course. It’s not the most important thing anymore. The reason I started in sugar work – we were talking about innovation before – we were forced to come up with different things. Sugar is very tricky. Either it crystallizes or it reverts. At that time, I was looking for other things. I was taking a liquid formula into sugar, make it shine more. Or I heard about isomalt, but I didn’t know what it was. Ricola – you know Ricola, the cough drops – they’re all isomalt. I searched, and I tried to work with it and was successful. I took it to America, and it was a success. It became in every pastry shop available.

But when you ask how important is sugar? It was very important at a certain time. In Las Vegas or New York, in Los Angeles, I was really excited to put the showpiece on the table. But today, I think times have changed. It’s not that important, and also, as I said before, it doesn’t need to be a big piece. Who can afford to pay for 100 pounds of sugar for a showpiece, and who can give you five-days’ time to make that piece?

I think this is, again, it’s not the right way to do it. It’s impressive, but it’s not good for our young.

Kirk Bachmann: For students, Chef, who are venturing in and who will listen to our chat and are getting excited – and we do the same here. Very small attempts at chocolate and sugar. This is very technical. What are some of the biggest challenges? Was the humidity in Florida ever a challenge for sugar versus isomalt? What about the rain in Washington? What are some of the really simple things that students should be prepared for?

Ewald Notter: Very, very challenging. Very challenging. I hated it in Florida. It’s very humid. It rains every day. You rely on air conditioning 365 days a year. If that air conditioning breaks down, you’re done.

Kirk Bachmann: You’re done. But the AC has to be working where you’re going to deliver the showpiece, too, right?

Ewald Notter: Transportation is very difficult. I made my living in Zurich once with orders, just doing orders. A most difficult thing there is because you have to pack it and you have to transport it. People don’t know how fragile it is. “Oh, it’s just sugar.” “Yeah, it’s sugar.” “Really!? It’s just sugar.” I got so tired of decoration, I named the book like that. It was fun. “That’s Sugar.”

Yeah. Humidity, very challenging, not only in sugar but in pastry, too, and the chocolate as well. You have to overcome it. Now, we’re inside of the building, it’s not a problem. Now, today, you can regulate the humidity with the air conditioning, but we didn’t have that.

Kirk Bachmann: You didn’t have that before.

What about altitude?

Ewald Notter: Oh, my God!

Kirk Bachmann: Here in Boulder we’re a mile high.

Ewald Notter: I was in Boulder. I gave demos in Boulder and Denver.

You forget, and I got that high altitude sickness, however you call it. I got a headache [like] I never had in my life.

Kirk Bachmann: Oh yeah. Yeah.

Ewald Notter: You have to boil the sugar differently. It’s important when you do a demo or if you’re going to work there, you make a test run before, maybe a day before. Test. That saves your success. That saves your success, your demo. You have to do it. It’s very different. You’re not selling shirts. You’re working with nature. You’re pasting stuff.

Books, Shops, and Other Projects

Kirk Bachmann: Absolutely. You mentioned your books. I had “The Art of Chocolatier” here, but I think a student took it to the library. My question is, with all of this going on, where do you find time to write books? To take the photography? I imagine it’s a long, long process.

Ewald Notter: I can say it was kind of a problem. It never comes at the right time, and once you’re finished you think you could do this and that better. You have to live with that, right? It was the tiniest of problems.

I was asked to do it. I made four books; four times I was asked to do it. Yeah, I did it. I think everybody has that [thinking.] You always think you can do better. That’s good, though. It challenges you for the next time. I speak to other people who wrote books, they’re the same thought. Yeah, it’s important.

For me it was very important to do a half an hour or an hour run in the morning or in the evening. Clear my head. When I was in Orlando, every year I did the Disney Marathon. It was good. There was a different kind of life you need besides work. It’s either family, sports, or it is something else. Very important.

Kirk Bachmann: What’s the most important thing that you’re working on right now? Any secret projects that you can share?

Ewald Notter: I don’t have any secrets. I never have. We want to open two more stores. We don’t want to open another 50 stores, but we want to get bigger. We were asked – again, we were asked – to open two stores. We said yes. We didn’t sign the contract yet, but that’s what’s going on.

And of course, we have our flavor calendar. We just try to do the best we can. We also learned, going back into production, it’s very difficult to excite a customer with a simple croissant or with a tart. It’s easier to excite a person with a showpiece, but to excite the person to make the best cookie or the best brownie. I never made brownies when I came. My partner asked me, “Oh, I think brownies would go really well. People love that kind of cookie. It’s simple.” I never made one!

I called my wife and said, “My partner wants me to make a brownie!” You may laugh, but I had challenges to keep it crusty and soft inside. Now, I believe I make the best brownie in Bellevue. But it’s work.

Kirk Bachmann: What’s the theme at Dote? You mentioned earlier and we didn’t follow up on it, that there’s hundreds – particularly in Seattle, the home of Starbucks and Pete’s and all of that. What is the theme at Dote, when someone wants more than just a cup of coffee?

Ewald Notter: Of course, we have a liquor license, but our heart of our business are ganaches. That’s the heart of the business. We hardly have any special orders. We do breakfast pastries. We do macarons. We do chocolates and tarts. But we don’t sell gateaus and a few desserts, but we don’t go into gateaus orders. That would be too much, and we don’t have enough staff for it.

We have to make the money for it, too, so we cannot go too wide. We have to sell every item every day. That’s our goal: to be fresh every day. We have adjust and moderate.

But chocolate and ganache, that’s the heart of our business besides coffee. Sarah does a very good job with the coffee. I don’t have to worry. We do both of our things, and we get together once a week and we discuss what’s going on. I could not be luckier. I’m very happy where I am at the moment.

Pastry is Hard Work

Kirk Bachmann: It sounds like harmony, the most beautiful word in pastry – harmony.

Not to put you on the spot, but we have several pastry students here in Boulder and Austin, and of course taking courses online. It’s been incredibly popular in the last couple of years. Whenever a new show is on Netflix or people see exposure on social media, students become very excited about working in the pastry field. Is there any advice that you might give to someone? You, yourself having gone through an apprenticeship and a journeymanship, and all the years of work. What advice would you give to a young culinarian who was just like Ewald in Switzerland so many years ago? And looks up to you as a mentor?

Ewald Notter: Decent questions. You may not like what I say, but I don’t follow Food Network at all. Totally crazy, and now it’s all about excitement, this and that. Life is not like that. Pastry is not like that. Pastry is hard work. You have to love what you do. You have to follow a mentor, work closely with them. Build up a network of good friends so you can share recipes; you can share the problems you have. Don’t burn any bridges, and be an idol for everybody else. Even at my age, I clean the floor. I take the trash out. It’s part of team work. It works very, very well.

Kirk Bachmann: I appreciate the transparency and the honesty. My father turns 86 on Friday. He’s still making strudel. It is about hard work, but if you love what you do, it never really feels like hard work. I think our students would appreciate that response. I truly do.

Ewald Notter: America is wonderful. They are very responsive. If you like what you do, it shows in your work. The customer will like it and respond to it. They’ll give you a smile. They’ll write you a note. That’s [what life is all about.] Be recognized. It makes life a lot easier.

Chef Ewald Notter’s Ultimate Dish

Kirk Bachmann: Absolutely agree.

Chef, the name of our podcast is The Ultimate Dish. This is really the toughest question. You could go savory or you could go sweet, but we like to ask all of our guests what the ultimate dish is, in their mind.

Ewald Notter: You’re going to be so disappointed.

Kirk Bachmann: I probably won’t be.

Ewald Notter: Whenever I go to Switzerland, I have my bar, I go in there, and I order a bratwurst with a beer and a piece of bread. That’s all I need. It brings me back to my childhood, that flavor. That’s all it is. It means more to me than any glamorous dinner.

Kirk Bachmann: I absolutely love that answer. You’re talking to a German guy here. I’ll sit next to you next time. We’ll have a bratwurst and a beer. There’s nothing wrong with that at all.

Mit some good Brot, right?

Ewald Notter: That’s it, purely, that’s the bread. It has to be crusty. Oh my God! I had so much difficulty coming to America and eating a bagel. There’s no crust. What the heck is that?! It took me years to love it. Now, I really appreciate it. But it shows where you’re coming from, what you like, and how you have to change.

Kirk Bachmann: Craftsmanship.

Chef, thank you so much for spending some time with us this morning. I really appreciate it. I wish you all the luck in the world in the northwest.

Ewald Notter: Thank you. Actually, thank you very much, Kirk, this was so much fun. I really thank you for your questions and the time. [inaudible crosstalk 00:37:08]

Kirk Bachmann: Absolutely. We’ll see you again for sure.

And thank you for listening to the Ultimate Dish podcast, brought to you by Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts. Visit escoffier.edu/podcast, where you’ll find any materials mentioned during the podcast, including notes, links and other resources. You can also browse other episodes and subscribe.

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