With almost two million followers on Instagram and over a million followers on Facebook, the numbers speak for themselves. First KTCHNrebel had to get to the bottom of why this is, but then the conversation turned to trends, precision and modern kitchen equipment.
If you ask the pastry chef what the secret to his success is, his quickly answers: “Authenticity.” And that’s exactly what stands out when you look at his Instagram account. The videos are filmed spontaneously, sometimes the footage is a bit shaky; at times you wish you could keep looking a little further to the right or left and see what’s going on there. And yet the pictures and particularly the videos, which he posts for free, are compelling. This is because they are so lively, authentic and presented with astonishing flair. When you look at them, you might find yourself saying: Wow, I’ve never seen cakes like this before. Such authenticity is what brings clicks, commitment and reach.
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Formerly in the lab, today at the professional oven: a love for precision
What Osvaldo Gross has to offer: He is no stranger in his native Argentina. He has been a regular on TV shows since 1992 and immediately made his mark with his first appearance – because he explained things so well and with absolute precision. However, when the first social media channels appeared, he got bored with television. The new medium was more interesting because it was faster and – again – more authentic. But no matter where he is on the Internet, one thing is always there: a love for precision.
You can see that in the cakes and pies he presents in his channels, it’s like a common thread running through his life. After all, his love for precision is what made him a pastry chef in the first place. The fact that the emphasis is on “precision” is very important. Osvaldo Gross started out as a geochemist and gave lectures on the subject while he was still a student. What used to be precision in the lab is now accuracy in the oven. “The recipe is law,” is his motto.
Passionate about teaching
In addition to large hotels in Buenos Aires, where he was involved in developing cake recipes from the beginning, Gross started sharing his skills at the Instituto Argentino de Gastronomia over 20 years ago. More than 3000 students are taught there six days a week. Since he works three shifts, Gross is always there. He is now head of the patisserie department. As such, he reports to more than ten test kitchens and 16 pastry professors.
He realized he enjoyed teaching while he was still studying chemistry. It also allows him to keep discovering and promoting new talent, which he loves. Currently, however, he finds one development unfortunate: His students increasingly want to specialize. The focus is no longer on tradition, but rather on specialist knowledge. As a result, some of his students want to produce mini pastries and boutique cakes from the very beginning, forgetting that classic and traditional pastry making must first be thoroughly known, and basic knowledge will be lost.
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Committed to tradition
On the other hand, he sees himself as a baking generalist who adapts recipes from other countries to the local market. Austrian Sachertorte, for example, gains a bit more sweetness because that’s what Argentines love. But when it comes to baking trends, he’s a little more reserved.
For him, vegan baking is a luxury problem; other things take priority. However, as a professional, he still knows coconut cream is a tried-and-true substitute for cream, and you can substitute chickpeas water for eggs to bring fluffiness into a cake.
The baking influencer sees himself very much in the tradition of the Italian and Spanish bakers who came to Argentina in the 19th century because they were persecuted as anarchists in their home countries. To this day, the names of the pastries bear witness to these anarchistic roots – so much so that Gross simply doesn’t name them. However, one thing is clear: Church and politics do not come off well.
The benefits of modern kitchen technology
What he doesn’t see quite as traditionally is kitchen technology. For example, without modern equipment, the patissier would not be able to develop pastries such as Pan Dulce, which is something like a hybrid of German Stollen and Italian Panettone. This is because it has to rise for 24 hours. With modern technology, such as a combi-steamer, Gross not only cuts the time in half, he also has better control over how the dough rises.
Strudel and sponge from a single cooking system
He can no longer imagine the bakery without his iCombi Pro. His favorite example: strudel. He bakes it in advance, freezes it and bakes it again. “It tastes just like grandma’s,” is his short and sweet explanation. Since Gross simply does everything in his Combi, he claims he can get more done in the same amount of time.
Here is another example from everyday practice: When his students have to bake sponge cake, he actually needs 24 ovens, one for each. This meant that either everyone would have to be in the kitchen at the same time, or the students would need to bake one cake after the other. One option is expensive, the other takes considerable time and energy. His solution: All 24 batters come into the professional oven at the same time.
Needless to say, an experienced baker like Gross knows that one strudel is different than ten. The iCombi knows this too, and therefore adjusts the humidity and temperature so that it always achieves the same great result. And his students also get the hang of the cooking system after a week. Now the next pictures and reels can be posted on Instagram and Co.