Growing up in Colombia, sweets things played a crucial role in Esti Garcia’s childhood.
“I was raised in a family where, at the end of our meals, we had to get something sweet, it didn’t matter what. My grandmother would fill up my bedside tables with chocolates, cookies, candies and sweet treats,” he said.
As a 28-year-old, Mr Garcia is now doing his best to encourage this tradition among Australians with his own range of handcrafted chocolates, pastries and cakes.
The Glebe resident started Esti Garcia Patissier last year (Esti is short for Esteban), after working for high-profile eateries including Bubo patisserie in Barcelona and Rockpool Bar & Grill in Sydney. He has been winning fans for his handcrafted “sweet things” ever since, including at the monthly Springwood and Blackheath Growers Markets.
But it wasn’t always meant to work out this way.
Mr Garcia moved to Australia from his home city of Pereira 11 years ago when he finished high school, originally simply to learn English.
“I was meant to go back eight months later to do a Bachelor in Business but I guess it was part of my destiny to sell chocolates,” he said.
After honing his skills from leading chefs in Australia and Spain, he was ready to branch out on his own.
“I felt that I needed my space to free my imagination and let myself grow exponentially,” he said.
Working for himself also allows Mr Garcia to develop personal connections with his customers. While he’s a regular at Sydney markets as well, he said his Mountains visits are his favourites because “the people are friendlier”. It still makes his day when customers tell him how much they like his products.
Proud of his “flavour first” philosophy and his commitment to finding quality ingredients, Mr Garcia uses chocolate from a Colombian company, Casa Luker, that has been operating since 1904.
“I visited their farm in Colombia last year,” he said. “It’s a gorgeous area… I tasted the different cacao, understood the philosophy and fell in love with the brand. I like brands like this one which help their communities and have a ‘soul’.”
Back in Australia, his top seller at markets is a box of eight of his signature chocolates with elegant flavours and silky ganache. They perfect for enjoying after meals (or anytime really).
“My chocolates are to be enjoyed slowly, to appreciate the craftmanship and time I have taken to create them,” he said.