February 6, 2018
by Shiori Iwawaki, Maya Kondo & Eri Inaba
Do you know the Mont Blanc that you cannot eat without lining up in Kyoto? Mont Blanc is originally from Piemonte, Italy and it means White Mountain. A French chef was the original creator using a chestnut candied syrup called marron glace. In 1933, a Japanese chef, Mr. Keizo Nishida, went to Italy to learn how to make Mont Blanc, bringing the technique back to Japan. However, at that time not many people knew about Mont Blanc in Japan. Nowadays Mont Blanc is a very famous sweet in Japan. People think that Kyoto is famous for green tea, but it’s not 100% true. There is a now a shop called 10 Minutes Mont Blanc in Kyoto which is very famous right now. In this article, we would like to introduce about this shop’s history, its Mont Blanc, and interview its owner.
The owner of 10 Minutes Mont Blanc is named Mr. Keizo. He opened the shop in Kyoto because he was born here in Kyoto. One more reason is he worked at many bakery stores after he graduated from high school and he wanted to run a shop by himself. The reason he wanted to work at a bakery store was when he was a high school student was he first saw a wedding cake. From that time, he wanted to make a cake by himself. He finally managed to open his own shop at near Nijo castle, in the Sanjo-kai shopping district. The name of the shop was ‘Sweet Cafe Kyoto Keizo’. Before he managed to run this shop, he had worked at a first-class confectionery shop for 40 years. At that time, he wanted to open a shop offering to customers amazing sweets as soon as they are ready to serve. It has made happen by building his own pastry studio. He restricted a building which had been there for 100 years to create a beautiful shop. Because of it, people can feel missing and relaxing.
From inside his shop, we can see the garden that leads to the pastry studio. We can sit in a terrace seat and smell the scent of sweet cake. Then, we can observe the process of making the cake. Mr. Keizo wants to give customers a fresh taste, because he believes a cake that has already spent time waiting to be eaten is not a good for offering to a hungry customer. The concept of this shop is based on this principle, so they give the cakes to the customers as soon as they are prepared.
We asked Mr. Keizo about how to make the Mont Blanc, so he gave us permission to go inside of the pastry studio. Therefore, we were able to watch carefully how the 10 Minutes Mont Blanc was being made. First of all, they squeeze whip cream in the middle of a plate, and then put a sponge cake on the top the whip cream. Next, they put a crunchy meringue over the sponge cake. This crunchy meringue is the most important point of the 10 Minutes Mont Blanc. It takes about three hours to make the meringue, and the chefs have to pay close attention because the baking time may vary depending on how they mix the dough. Toward the end of the process, they squeeze chestnut paste all over the meringue. Finally, they decorate around the plate with chocolate sauce, sprinkle some white sugar powder and put a single chestnut on the top of the cake. They make the Mont Blanc after their customers place their order. They don`t stock the Mont Blanc in advance, but rather they start the process after the customers place their order. After the customers order the Mont Blanc, they can go to the pastry studio and watch how their pastry is being made. 10 Minutes Mont Blanc means if you eat it within 10 minutes, you can feel the meringue is crunchy. But if you wait longer than 10 minutes to eat it, the meringue become soft and the texture become totally different from the crunchy one. Therefore, you can enjoy two kinds of meringue textures with just one Mont Blanc.
We asked Mr. Keizo how he invented the 10 Minutes Mont Blanc. Then, he answered that he wanted to use meringue as a protagonist in this sweet story. As everyone knows, meringue always plays a supporting role; never the protagonist in the production of a sweet. He discovered the right type of meringue when he was making a chiffon cake, as it uses a lot of meringue. When he tried to bake the meringue, it became crunchy. This was the first step in the process of making Keizo’s Mont Blanc. Moreover, Mr. Keizo wanted to let the customer imagine the inside of the cake. The top four most popular cakes are shortcake, cheese cake, minnefeuille and chocolate cake, but these cakes can be seen through to the inside. On the other hand, the inside of a Mont Blanc can not be seen, so we must imagine what it looks like and what it is made of. However, to make use meringue as the main ingredient, you cannot take the pastry homme because it will not last long. The most challenging part of making a 10 Minutes Mont Blanc is to make a crunchy meringue. Therefore, they can only serve the pastry in the shop itself in order to keep the meringue crunchy.
Mr. Keizo said that he was most confident about his staff. This is because they are all able to explain about the menu and go to the customer’s seat and explain about the food and dessert. Also, Mr. Keizo wants all the customers to enjoy and smile and go back home and feel that they were glad to come to this store. His happiest moment is when a customer says with a big smile, “It is so delicious, I will come to this shop again.” For him, the 10 Minutes Mont Blanc is like his child because he worked so hard through trial and error to create it. In the future, he wants to make a new kind of Mont Blanc that is relevant to the season in which it is eaten, and made with seasonal ingredients like pistachio, cherry blossom, pumpkin, and many others. Moreover, in the shop there are many other kinds of cake, so he wants the customer to taste other things as well. Now, many people say “Let’s go and eat 10 Minutes Mont Blanc,” but he wants customers to say “Let’s go to Mr. Keizo’s shop” and “which cake should I eat today.” This is his goal and he wants to spread this shop around the world as well.
As you can see, Mr. Keizo has a lot of feeling for 10 Minutes Mont Blanc, and his store’s staff can give customers that same feeling when they explain about the way to eat the Mont Blanc. The staff said to us “Let’s enjoy the sound of the crunchy meringue, using a fork and knife.” After that, we started to eat with a fork and knife, and listened the sound carefully. When we eat just Mont blanc, it taste still dark, but when we eat it with chocolate sauce, that is becoming sweeter. From the beginning to the end, we could enjoy feeling the change of texture. After we left the shop, there was a long line of people waiting to get in. Finally, Mr, Keizo described 10 Minute Mont Blanc is as his son, so you should go and try this amazing cake.