Marc Balaguer: Rethinking and reinventing
The time to change.
Covid-19: Marc Balaguer, Chef and Consultant Les vergers Boiron based in Barcelona, shares with us radical changes in his way of thinking and acting and his close relations with family and friends.
Marc, we first spoke together in October 2017 and wrote an article on your career when you became the youngest-ever Les vergers Boiron Ambassador at the age of 25. At the time, you were working hard on ice sculpting as part of the Spanish team at the Gelato World Cup in Rimini in 2018 and your team came second. I imagine that the Covid-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on your life.
Yes, it has indeed. Three years ago, I was almost fanatical about competition and technique. I would spend almost all my time doing as much as possible, working 7/7, often 16 hours a day, taking two weeks off at most for a brief vacation just once a year. Things came to a sudden stop with the pandemic and I had to completely reconsider my way of living. I am not a mystic, but I began a process of introspection, thinking a lot and not doing anything at times, which was not something I had ever done. I am not saying this to flatter Les vergers Boiron, but they were very supportive during this time, enabling me to explore multiple avenues of research that included talking to distributors, developing new ingredients and recipes, strengthening my knowledge and the use of social media and generally exploring the future. I want to especially thank Zamira at Les vergers Boiron who was incredibly supportive during this whole period.
I think you have also been working with Michel Willaume, another Les vergers Boiron Ambassador, who lives in Barcelona, like you.
Yes, this has been a very important part of my rethinking. I met Michel through Les vergers Boiron and he was always a model for me, as a former Pastry World Champion and, through Think Pastry, his consultancy, someone who constantly inspired me to find new combinations in taste, but above all in the experience that food generates. We became close friends, sharing both our personal and professional concerns and helping each other get through this very difficult period. His ability to listen and his incredible power of insight and resiliency have been a true inspiration for me. I’m very grateful to be his peer now and to be part of an extended Les vergers Boiron family.
So, how does this translate into your daily life?
Well, above all, I now attach a great deal more importance to my family, which I think I was quite isolated from when I was so focused on competition, although my partner always understood and supported me fully. Hopefully, we will go to Bolivia, her country of birth, when we can and spend time with her family. My friends have also become more important. I take my time, I talk to many people, I study and, this might sound strange, but I sing and dance and smell and enjoy everything from fireworks to home boxing. However, this does not mean that I am just lazing about and having fun, which would be impossible for me anyways. As I was saying, I am thinking and testing about the future of food, looking at as many variations as possible, including the link between professionals and home cooking, what I call take in and take out. For example, we are looking at kits that would enable people to make high-quality ice cream at home, with support on social media and how-to videos. I think we are all involved in reconsidering our way of life in so many ways, in particular what it means to lead a healthy life, both physically and mentally. This crisis has been an eye-opener and a source of mindfulness for many of us. We now need to think about the long term. I don’t just want to be a model for my young son, for example. I want to transmit to him important values and help him to become a human being that thinks about his role in a new world.