Chef Jesús Escalera truly lives by his restaurant’s motto that ‘life is sweet’. The 32-year-old chef and founder of dessert-only restaurant La Postrería in Guadalajara, Mexico, has been attracting the attention of national and international critics with his inventive sweet creations, culminating in the title of Latin America’s Best Pastry Chef, sponsored by República del Cacao – the icing on the cake of a successful career to date.
Escalera became a pastry chef almost by accident. Born in Utrera, a city near Seville in southern Spain, he landed a stage at the age of 19 at Hacienda Benazuza, an emblematic five-star hotel that Ferran Adrià took an interest in, initially as a consultant from 1998 and eventually helping to develop two new restaurants at the property. Escalera had some experience working in kitchens – he started at the age of 15 in a bakery – but when Benazuza’s head chef asked him if he preferred sweet or savoury dishes, his nerves won over his reason to answer ‘sweet’. Since the mishap, however, the chef hasn’t looked back.
La Postrería opened in 2013 as Escalera’s first solo project – with the help of his Mexican business partner Fernanda Covarrubias – with the intent of defying the limits of traditional pastry. Having learnt from Albert Adriá (Ferran’s pastry chef brother) at El Bulli and from Heston Blumenthal at The Fat Duck, Escalera wanted to apply the respect for the product and the cutting-edge techniques he had witnessed at these restaurants to an offer made exclusively of desserts. After working as chef at Benazuza restaurant in Cancún, he decided to settle in Guadalajara to make the most of Mexico’s fresh produce.
Escalera saw a void in between the world of traditional restaurants – which is mostly savoury – and the world of pastry, dominated by sugar, and decided to fill it. Playing with different textures and temperatures and incorporating bitter, smoky and salty flavours into the dishes, La Postrería’s tasting menus (one of six and one of 10 courses) are masterpieces of research into, and reinvention of, the dessert.
Escalera finds inspiration in the natural world, with many of his most famous desserts recreating natural elements – take, for example, ‘The forest’, a combination of forest fruits, pine honey, matcha, lemon grass and wild flowers, eye-catchingly assembled to look like mushrooms growing from the forest floor. Desserts are served with a pairing of dessert wines, infusions or Mexican coffees that complement the dishes.
The chef has most recently founded La Postrería Taller, a space where he holds courses and masterclasses for the public, as well as inviting other pastry chefs to share their knowledge. Escalera also works as a consultant to help restaurants, hotels and traditional bakeries to develop their dessert offer – he is the mover and shaker behind a new world of desserts that is expanding and developing at every step.
Av Pablo Neruda