“Dreams don´t work unless you do.”
The life motto followed by our great pastry chef Katarína Lešková. This inspirational woman brings a smile wherever she appears and, with her hard work and humility, proves that everything can be done if you want. She is a real role model for her colleagues, not only because of her talent for confectionery handicraft, but also because of her positive attitude to life. Katka is originally from Bratislava, she loves sports, travelling and especially her four-legged pets. In every bite of her confectionery artwork, you will find a piece of her heart, her endless creativity and enormous enthusiasm for this wonderful work.
Our guests know her especially through her magnificent confectionery artwork and therefore we would like to introduce her to you in a nice conversation.
Katka, tell us, what has your baking trip been like? Who was your inspiration?
My great-grandmother Gizela was a renowned and talented pastry chef. And even though I had not known her, I got to her traditional recipes and love of baking through her daughter, my grandmother Melania. When I was a child, all the girls were playing with dolls and I was playing with dough – we had it taped all over the house 😊. Since I spent a lot of time with my grandmother, I always assisted her in baking and she slowly introduced me with love and patience to the secrets of confectionery art. When I was 8 years old, I started baking and I have been improving in this work to these days.
“My first child scars are from baking.”
How do your desserts differ from others, what makes them special?
In my great-grandmother’s recipes, local and quality ingredients were the basis. She lived in a village, so she had access to home-made eggs, quality butter or cream. I inherited the family recipe book from her and I have still been baking and drawing inspiration from it to these days. In my cakes you will find only the highest quality ingredients without the addition of artificial substances. I take great care of a balanced ratio of ingredients, rich and juicy filling and, last but not least, the taste must go hand in hand with the exceptional appearance in order for our guests to have a comprehensive experience. I bake my cakes and desserts with great love and joy and I believe that it also leaves signs in them.
Katka, you studied international management. When did the breakthrough happen and you became a pastry chef?
My priority after my studies at grammar school was to study in English and that is why I studied international management at the City University of Seattle. During my studies I worked as an F&B or event manager in various facilities. But I had never stopped baking because it was something what fulfilled me. I kept baking at home for my family or friends, and of course I always helped my grandmother with the baking. People around me constantly encouraged me to start baking professionally and with the coincidence of life circumstances, or it was a fate, I have worked my way up to the position of a pastry chef at Hotel Devín****, where I can fulfil my pastry dream.
“My grandmother feels so warm in her heart I followed the footsteps of my great-grandmother and became a pastry chef.”
Do you prefer traditional or modern recipes? Do you have your favourite dessert?
Since I have huge role models in my grandmother and great-grandmother, I believe in what they taught me and I build on traditional recipes that are also very suitable for the premises of Café Devín, which has its tradition since 1954. In my life, however, I also sniffed out more modern or foreign recipes and learned to combine the traditional with the modern. In our showcase you will find quality desserts of all tastes and colours. Traditional juicy punch cakes, delicious krémes, fine macaroons or various tarts are a popular mainstay in the café Hotel Devín****. They’re all my favourites, but I love the combination of nutty and fruity flavours.
Katka, where do you get your inspiration from? Do you have your role models in the world of pastry chefs?
As I have mentioned many times, my greatest role models are my great-grandmother and my grandmother. My other role model is Jordi Bordas – a very skilful Spanish pastry chef. He is known for creating alternatives to classic heavy desserts (lacto free, vegan, low sugar) so that they do not lose their taste profile, but on the contrary he highlights the flavours. I am very happy that I could be part of his course in his pastry shop in a village near Barcelona and learn his pastry art. It was very enriching for me and we have still been in contact with his other students. I also get inspired abroad during my travels or vacations. I transform this inspiration into my own recipes, which I like to create. It is a huge challenge for me and I enjoy it very much. I am proud that you can taste some of my recipes at Café Devín today as well.
“The joy of my loved ones and customer satisfaction is my driving force.”
What does your day off look like, what are your hobbies?
This may sound crazy, but in my spare time, I like to bake. It’s my passion. When baking, I always recharge with positive energy and forget all my worries. Even today, my grandmother and I will prepare something sweet for a family celebration, and I always like to give my loved ones my desserts. If I didn´t bake for an event or visit, my surroundings would probably be suspicious that something was going on. 😊 But if I’m not baking, I like to exercise or go for a walk with my dogs that I adopted from the dog-shelter.
What do you like best about your work?
The fact that every day is different and always teaches me something new. I love that my work is creative and fantasies really do not set any limits. I work in a very good team, I always have someone to talk to and have a good laugh with. I am grateful we are all pulling together and have a common goal – to create gourmet experiences from the finest ingredients. However, what makes me happiest is when our guests are satisfied and I see how they like my desserts.
What are your plans and ambitions for the future?
My goal is to expand my team and dessert offer at Café Devín as well. Over time, I would also like to organise baking classes, where I would like to pass on my skills and love for baking to enthusiasts of this beautiful handicraft. There’s nothing more beautiful than seeing me help someone improve on what they like and spread the joy around me. Even the youngest generation of our family – my niece is very happy to help me bake and I am grateful the tradition of baking in our family will continue.
Dear guests, I cordially invite you to the beautiful premises of Café Devín. My colleagues will take care of your maximum well-being and I will love to bake you delicious cakes and desserts.
I am looking forward to you!