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Michelin-star pastry chef Florencia Breda wows customers at Mistura in SLO 

click to enlarge IT'S WHAT'S ON THE INSIDE THAT COUNTS Intricate exterior detailing reflects Florencia's Breda's intent to create "little pieces of Murano glass," an ode to her hometown near Venice. However, her shells are thin, with assorted fillings containing dark chocolate ganache, creamy purees, nuts, and other local and imported delicacies.

Photo By Cherish Whyte

IT'S WHAT'S ON THE INSIDE THAT COUNTS Intricate exterior detailing reflects Florencia's Breda's intent to create "little pieces of Murano glass," an ode to her hometown near Venice. However, her shells are thin, with assorted fillings containing dark chocolate ganache, creamy purees, nuts, and other local and imported delicacies.

To be successful in the kitchen, one must possess the appropriate skill set, according to renowned Italian chef Vincenzo Guarino. But to soar, you also need "some kind of attitude, a sort of talent."

Florencia Breda, his former protégé, "has that kind of thing," he said. "I believe that she has a huge potential for the passion she puts into her work, for the humility, and the desire to always learn new things."

click to enlarge L'ARTISTA Six mornings a week, Florencia Breda works her pastry magic in an alcove on the second floor of Mistura before heading down to the restaurant for the remainder of the day. - PHOTO BY CHERISH WHYTE
  • Photo By Cherish Whyte
  • L'ARTISTA Six mornings a week, Florencia Breda works her pastry magic in an alcove on the second floor of Mistura before heading down to the restaurant for the remainder of the day.

While working together for four years at Ristorante Il Pievano in Gaiole, Italy, "we created the 'Monna Lisa di Cioccolato,' with seven different types of chocolate, and 'Guardo il mondo da un oblò,' two beautiful sweets, which were very much appreciated by customers and critics," Guarino said. "I think she really has what it takes to conquer the American market and beyond."

Currently the pastry chef at Mistura in San Luis Obispo, Breda recently launched her own chocolate and pastry shop under the same roof with the enthusiastic support of Nicola Allegretta, co-owner and executive chef of the Peruvian restaurant.

Allegretta, originally from Italy, and his wife, Jackeline, from Peru, also own Mama's Meatball and Mistura Catering. All three establishments are located within SLO's Creamery Marketplace off Higuera Street.

The new venture, Breda Pasticceria e Cioccolateria—or Breda SLO—"is a beautiful project that my pastry chef had in mind for many years," Allegretta said. "She always wanted to open a [pastry and chocolate] store, and because times are hard, I proposed to do it in Mistura with a minimum effort because we have all that she needs."

Allegretta—who has worked at prestigious restaurants throughout Europe, Florida, and California—may also have been motivated by a desire to help a kindred spirit.

Born in Buenos Aires, Breda moved to Italy when she was 2. Her maternal side is Argentinian, while her father's family is Italian.

"I grew up in Treviso, near Venice. I attended a pastry school, and when I graduated at 18—when you become of age in Italy—I started to travel all over Europe, to attend professional classes with the best pastry chefs internationally recognized. I worked and studied in England, France, Portugal, Spain, Russia, Abu Dhabi, and Miami," Breda said

"The two key points of my career I would definitely say are, one, when I got hired by [Guarino] to be his pastry chef in the restaurant he took over, where we got awarded with a [Michelin] star," she said.

click to enlarge PASTRY PERFECTION Current Breda SLO desserts include, from left, Sottobosco, featuring layers of raspberry, strawberry, passion fruit, hazelnut, and chocolate; carrot cake; Fior di Mandorla, containing almond mousse, coconut sponge cake, and Marsala wine in the pipe; and rose pomegranate mousse with dark chocolate sponge cake. - PHOTO BY CHERISH WHYTE
  • Photo By Cherish Whyte
  • PASTRY PERFECTION Current Breda SLO desserts include, from left, Sottobosco, featuring layers of raspberry, strawberry, passion fruit, hazelnut, and chocolate; carrot cake; Fior di Mandorla, containing almond mousse, coconut sponge cake, and Marsala wine in the pipe; and rose pomegranate mousse with dark chocolate sponge cake.

Guarino has received a Michelin star at four separate Italian restaurants, most recently in 2019 at L'Aria at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Lake Como.

"The second more important moment for me was when I got accepted to do an internship in Miami with Antonio Bachour," Breda said.

Bachour, originally from Puerto Rico, has repeatedly "been elected best pastry chef in the world," Breda explained.

"The acceptance email to intern with Bachour was such a surprise," she continued. "It was a real dream come true. Plus, it was in the States and was a new adventure that I knew could open a lot of doors in my career."

Breda's next big career move followed a random trip to Paso Robles in 2017 to cater a vintage cycling event called Eroica California, an offshoot of the L'Eroica (Heroic) cycling event in Italy. The event was founded in 1997 in the Tuscan town of Gaiole—Paso's "sister city." Gaiole is the location of Ristorante Il Pievano, where Guarino and Breda worked together.

Guarino was enlisted to cook for the weeklong event and requested that Breda serve as pastry chef.

click to enlarge BELLISSIMI CIOCCOLATINI Breda SLO confections are scratch-made, hand painted, and constantly evolving. For Easter, hollow white, milk, and dark chocolate eggs and bunnies are filled with signature chocolates. Chicks contain caramel and cookies. For a unique gift, items can be presented in a decorative box with a wooden hammer. - PHOTO BY CHERISH WHYTE
  • Photo By Cherish Whyte
  • BELLISSIMI CIOCCOLATINI Breda SLO confections are scratch-made, hand painted, and constantly evolving. For Easter, hollow white, milk, and dark chocolate eggs and bunnies are filled with signature chocolates. Chicks contain caramel and cookies. For a unique gift, items can be presented in a decorative box with a wooden hammer.

"The restaurant organizing the catering of that event here was Café Roma," Breda recalled. "They let us borrow and use their kitchen for the whole week."

A year later, Café Roma requested Breda's assistance in developing its new pastry menu. She accepted, fell in love with the area, then ultimately decided to leave Miami for the Central Coast.

After a stint as pastry chef at La Bodega Tapas in Pismo Beach, she joined the Mistura team in January 2020, then in December 2021 founded Breda SLO.

Breda's mission is to produce classic Italian pastries and chocolates with a modern touch. She still oversees Mistura's dessert menu, and guests can peruse Breda's display counter and chat with the chef herself. Pastries and chocolates can be purchased individually or elegantly boxed.

All desserts are produced "in small batches by hand right here in our San Luis Obispo shop," she explains on her new website. "The bonbons are hand-painted and hand-shelled and take multiple days to create. The fillings are sourced locally when available and ethically from around the globe in order to bring you the finest flavors of Italy."

click to enlarge INSPIRING INK Florencia Breda displays dark chocolate, chili-infused delicacies as well as her tattoo, inked 10 years ago in London at the start of her professional journey. "I was very young, and I decided to leave Italy to start my training around Europe, so I did it to remind myself that pastry is what I really love and to keep going," she said. - COURTESY PHOTO BY AUSTIN MA
  • Courtesy Photo By Austin Ma
  • INSPIRING INK Florencia Breda displays dark chocolate, chili-infused delicacies as well as her tattoo, inked 10 years ago in London at the start of her professional journey. "I was very young, and I decided to leave Italy to start my training around Europe, so I did it to remind myself that pastry is what I really love and to keep going," she said.

Cakes, dessert trays, and other custom orders can be placed online, and many products are gluten- and dairy-free, and vegan.

Breda says it's been an honor working alongside exceptional chefs such as Guarino, Bachour, and Allegretta, and she has high hopes for her future.

However, she always has an eye toward her past. Her mother passed away six years ago, but her father still resides in her hometown of Treviso.

"My goal with my career is to make my parents proud, even though my mum will never see it," she said. "They moved to Italy to look for a better future for me, because in Argentina that would not have been possible. So their sacrifices to make me study and support me have to be worth it." Δ

Flavor Writer Cherish Whyte always caps a Mistura meal with a decadent Breda bonbon. Reach her at cwhyte@newtimesslo.com.

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