By Mika Nashiki / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff WriterKOBE — Seven local patissiers have joined forces to promote the charm of Kobe as “the town of Western-style confectionery” to enliven the city. As it marks the 150th year that the port of Kobe has been open, the patissiers are also planning to offer a product that can be a souvenir for visitors to the city.
The patissiers operate shops in either Kobe or Ashiya, Hyogo Prefecture, and call their group Origine Kobe. Launched in 2015 to sell original cakes created under a common seasonal theme, the group’s current autumn-winter collection is its fourth collaboration.
There have been Western-style confectionery shops in Kobe since the Meiji era (1868-1912). Currently, a number of people visit the city from outside the prefecture in the pursuit of Kobe sweets. But the patissiers were concerned that customers were only going to certain shops.
Competition among cities has also intensified. There are many sweets in Hokkaido that have become popular as souvenirs, while confectionery shops that are well known abroad have made inroads in Tokyo. Given this, the seven closely connected patissiers teamed up to further promote Kobe by launching the group in April 2015.
The seven include Shigeo Hirai of L’Avenue in Chuo Ward, who won a world chocolate competition; Tatsuya Onishi of Motomachi Cake in the same ward, who won a confectionery competition in France; and Seiji Tada of Patisserie etonne in Ashiya, who trained in Paris.
The patissiers make cakes using three key ingredients on a common theme twice a year — the spring-summer and autumn-winter collections. In the inaugural spring-summer collection of 2015, the theme was “Elegance” and they used champagne, roses and raspberries or its framboise liqueur. In the 2015 autumn-winter collection, they presented cakes to express the idea of “Essence,” combining vanilla, hazelnuts and citrus fruits.
This time for the autumn-winter collection running through March, sweets are made using chocolate, salt and semicandied fruits on the theme of “Accent.” Each patissier uses his ingenuity to offer different tastes.
The members of the group also hold cake classes for the public and professional chefs.
“We hope to increase the number of fans of Kobe confectionery through our friendly competitions,” said Shuhei Hayashi of Patisserie mont plus in Chuo Ward.
The other members are Masatsugu Ueda of Patisserie L’Atelier de Massa in Higashinada Ward, Yoshikatsu Okuda of Patisserie Agricole in Tarumi Ward, and Akito Tanaka of Patisserie Akito in Chuo Ward.
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