Behind the Counter | Ep. 7
Flying away to return home and reconnect with local roots. The story of Pasticceria Flavian Dobre.
When you walk in you don’t know where to look, the display cases are brimming with light, colour, novelties Can you really eat this? –you wonder. That’s what that old man must have thought when, more than 10 years ago, he couldn’t help but enter the new pastry shop that had just opened in his small town. “I remember he said to me, do you really not have savarine, amandină or diplomat cake? We Romanians don’t know how to eat what you sell here. This is not a patisserie”. Flavian Dobre confesses that he will never forget those words back in his hometown Buftea, because his story is that of someone who had to learn everything abroad to reconnect with his roots and reach the top.
In this new episode of Behind the Counter we have come to meet this young icon of the Romanian patisserie scene who, at the young age of 30, has attended some of the best culinary institutions in Europe and has recently opened his dream patisserie with his namesake. Flavian Dobre’s Patisserie was one of the 175 small businesses selected last November by Glovo to participate in a campaign to empower SMEs in Romania to increase their visibility and sales within the multi-category app.
With a piece of Krantz cake –made of walnut slices, vanilla cream, walnuts and caramelised sugar– on the table –his mother’s favourite– Flavian talks to us about this long road full of hardship, rewards, and above all, a family that stood behind him.
How does someone decide to swap the cassock for the apron?
“I grew up in Buftea, a small town northwest of Bucharest. My father was a priest and my mother an English teacher. According to tradition, the first children should follow in the footsteps of their father, so when I was old enough I entered the Theological Seminary.
Besides, my mother was always a very good housewife and I always helped her; not that I did much, but I remember many moments in front of the pot, she would give me a plate and we would taste whatever she was cooking.
Finally there was a moment, back home on one of the seminar’s holiday periods, when I felt that I wanted something more and with the help of my father, I managed to get a scholarship to study at the University of Culinary Arts in Oslo.” Spoiler: Flavian still completed his theological studies a few years later.”
An adventure with stops in Norway, France, Italy and the USA
“In Oslo I learned the basics of cooking on a large scale. There, unlike my classmates, I gradually became fascinated by the “sweet” side of gastronomy, which, as many professors said, is close to “pharmacy”, an exact science in which components are added little by little. In pastry making it is the same, everything is rigorously measured and you have to be very precise and correct.
After this time in Norway, I went to France to specialise in confectionery at the Ecole Lenôtre in Paris. At that time, neither my parents nor I had the money to support me for the 2 years of training, so I managed to graduate in just one year, taking the first course in the mornings and the second course in the afternoons. Then, I returned to Buftea, where I was born and raised, to open my first patisserie in 2013, which is still in operation today thanks to my wife. The opening was not as we expected, I came from France with new ideas and concepts and here people wanted traditional Romanian recipes that I did not master 100%. I quickly hired some local pastry experts to teach me to understand what Romanians eat and the classic pastry recipes.
With the business already open in Buftea, I went to Italy for 3 months, to the Etoile Academy. That’s where my story began. In Norway I learned the basics, in France everything was bohemian, stylish and I ended up in Italy where everything was innovation. There everyone was dreaming of the molecular, of how to reinvent the wheel and I thought, this is my place.
Eventually I ended up in the USA, to specialise in cakes for events. Here I realised that we Europeans eat completely differently, with creams, mousses or foams, because we like tasty things. There, when I cut my first 2.5-3m cake, I realised that it was all cream and cream, and that it was key to the structure, which was what I specialised in mainly at that time.”
A self-made businessman with his own VPX film studio
On his return to Romania after a long period of training, he started to enter different international competitions representing Romania. Flavian made a name for himself by winning a variety awards such as Gold at the World Confectionery Championship in Germany (IBA Cup) in 2015, a Silver at the European Confectionery in Rimini Italy in 2017, and a Bronze at the Culinary Olympics held in Stuttgart, Germany in 2020. His most recent award was earned this past February at the XX.
In all this time Flavian has also become a businessman with more than 20 businesses, ranging from organising events for weddings, fast food chains, his own pastry training academy and even a VPX film studio. But without a doubt, his greatest pride is his pastry shops ‘Pasticceria Flavian-Dobre’, one in Buftea and the other in Mall Colosseum, Bucharest, with a new concept where he sells up to 10 different products such as artisan ice cream, chocolates, Macarons, cakes and biscuits.
Taking off in delivery with Glovo’s SMEs booster campaign
“We are very happy to have been able to participate in Glovo’s latest booster campaign in Romania, because thanks to projects like this, the visibility of our business increases and it is very noticeable that not only did orders increase, but in many cases there were recurring customers”. Flavian’s pastry shop was one of the 175 Romanian small partners participating in this project last October, achieving 164% more orders during the campaign period and an increase of 1,322% in visits to their stores within the app.
Glovo booster campaigns aim to empower and raise the visibility of SMEs in different countries by offering them promotions and visibility assets within the app to positively impact their sales –increasing orders. This project, like many others, is financed through Glovo’s Impact Fund –which is funded by a small amount of the revenue margin from each order made with Glovo. By the end of 2023, we estimate that we will have dedicated €5 million to financing impact and sustainability projects since start of the project in mid-2021.
In Bucharest, we approached another of Glovo’s realities in which a young lover of the culinary arts discovered his passion for baking and turned his life around 180º to become one of Europe’s best pastry chefs.