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Entertainment, Food & Beverage

Sweet art of pastry and performance

Chocolate waterfalls, stunning multi- tiered cakes and intricate edible flowers.
The Straits Times - February 14, 2014
By: Rachel Lim
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Sweet art of pastry and performance Pastry chefs Christian Escriba and Patricia Schmidt will create a confectionery extravaganza. -- ST PHOTO: MATTHIAS HO

Chocolate waterfalls, stunning multi- tiered cakes and intricate edible flowers. An upcoming confectionery extravaganza is a fantasy for the sweet-toothed.

Fantasia by Escriba, which will open in Singapore in June, is a three-day theatrical exhibition - billed as a world's first - that aims to combine artistry, fantasy and theatre to leave audiences spellbound. And very possibly hungry.

Covering more than 8,000 sq m of exhibition space at the Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre, it will have eight pavilions, each themed differently. Visitors will be able to view showcases and taste many of the handcrafted pastry masterpieces.

They will also be entertained by acts from Spanish theatre group The Comediants. The company's founder and artistic director Joan Font, who helped to create the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympic games closing ceremony, will helm the live performances.

More than 40 pastry chefs and 80 theatrical actors will bring pastry and performance art together.

The event is the brainchild of Spanish pastry chef Christian Escriba and his Brazilian wife, Patricia Schmidt. Both have years of experience in creating edible sculptures, ranging from 6m-tall teddy bears made of chocolate bon bons, to bulldog-shaped ones with caramel- and-candy collars.

"Years ago, when we presented big cakes, we worked with actors," says Escriba on how the idea for Fantasia came about. "They know how to transmit better the emotions that we want to transmit with our work. We transmit it through the cake and they present it."

Schmidt adds: "It's different to have a cake delivered by someone, by a character, with the costume and some music, the design of the clothes, the decorations, as opposed to just having it on the table." The couple decline to reveal their ages.

Escriba, a fourth-generation pastry chef, runs his family's Pasteleria Escriba in Barcelona. He has produced confection items for luxury brands Hermes, Louis Vuitton and Chanel, as well as for rockers Bruce Springsteen and U2 and the late Pope John Paul II.

Three years ago, Escriba and Schmidt had their honeymoon in Singapore and fell in love with the country - hence the decision to premiere their brand of confectionary theatre here. The extravaganza is presented by Escriba Asia, regional business platform for a variety of pastry- related business ventures across Asia. The cost of the event is still being finalised.

Given Singapore's tropical climate and humidity, some of the pieces will be flown into Singapore from Spain and carefully transported to the venue.

"Or we can have something like Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, where everything melts," adds Escriba, jokingly, referring to Roald Dahl's book in which grotesque things happen in a sweet factory.

One pavilion, Wonderland, is a 2,000 sq m mini-city dedicated to children's activities. Another is an academy for budding pastry chefs, who can attend classes and try working with chocolate, caramel, fondant and pastry.

Gluten-free and products suitable for diabetics will also be served to ensure that everyone can have a slice of the fun.

Post-exhibition, some of the pieces will be transported back to Spain. Others will be left with brand partners and continue to be on display.

Paul Wakefield, executive chairman of Escriba Asia, says: "We want to cater to everyone so that he can have an unforgettable experience... everyone will not only have a visual experience, but also taste the products that Escriba is well known for."

Says Schmidt: "For us, pastry is about surprise, emotion and creating unforgettable moments. Maybe you'll forget who came to your last party, but you will never forget the cake."

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FANTASIA BY ESCRIBA

Where: Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre, Halls A and B

When: June 27 to 29

Admission: Tickets from $38 to $188 available from www.fantasiaescriba.com

Info: Go to www.fantasiaescriba.com. Christian Escriba and Patricia Schmidt will give out treats at Suntec City basement 1 today, 1 to 2pm

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