Avant-garde French chocolatier and pâtissier known as the “Picasso of pastry”
Some of my favourite spots in Paris include the Parc Monceau near my home, and of course the Royal Monceau Hotel just beside the park for a coffee or afternoon tea at the Bar Long, my favourite bar in Paris. I love the Jeu de Paume museum, which always hosts fantastic photography and contemporary art exhibits. And one of my favourite museums, it is less well known, is the Musée Bourdelle. It’s named after one of Rodin’s contemporaries.
Of course, I am very much enjoying taking visitors to our new concept store on the Champs-elysées in Paris – 86Champs, a joint venture with L’occitane ... the perfect spot to end the day with an exclusive dessert from the Dessert Bar or a latte Ispahan from the barista!
During my last visit to Morocco, where we just opened a boutique and partnership with La Mamounia hotel, I discovered “amlou”, which is a combination of toasted almond, honey, and argan oil – it was really interesting, so I am now working on a macaron using it. In Marrakech, I thoroughly enjoyed dinner at La Grande Table Marocaine by Yannick Alleno at the Royal Mansour.
I was lucky enough to go to Paul Pairet’s Ultraviolet restaurant in Shanghai. It is a true artistic dining experience, unique in the world. You don’t know where you are going, the neighbourhood is a bit dodgy, and then you arrive at this magnificent spot for dinner – four hours and 24 different dishes. It’s a multi-sensorial experience, with wall projections, sound effects. All the senses are nourished. Extraordinary.
I have a very fond memory of a great discovery a few years ago at Waku Ghin by chef Tetsuya Wakuda in Singapore. A mix of Japanese and Australian cuisine, pure excellence. Perfect preparations, precise flavours, a simply magic moment.
One of my favourite bars has to be the Bar Long at the Royal Monceau Raffles Hotel Paris. Since 2011, the Maison Pierre Hermé Paris has been in charge of the entire sweet offerings at the hotel, from the breakfast to afternoon tea, the brunch, the desserts at the restaurant. The Bar Long is the perfect spot. My favourite drink to order – a spritz!
Salt is underrated. I say that because it is in the background, yet salt is one of the most important ingredients in pastry, bringing an essential counterpoint to the sweetness. The best example is the very simplest, traditional “mille-feuilles”, which embody a perfect balance between salt and sugar. Firstly, the puff pastry has no sugar in it, only salt. The
cream, in turn, is sweetened and then the glazing on top is very sweet. This is the perfect combination, the construction of the flavour is ideal. For many years, pastry chefs have been working with salt and sugar and also with acidity and bitterness to find the right balance of flavour.
I am a fan of tableware; I think it is every bit as important as the meal. I personally love Bernardeau: at home and in our Atelier de Création we use Bernardeau tableware.
There are a number of great pastry shops now in Paris – we are spoilt for choice. I would not necessarily look for traditional patisseries, but for excellent creativity and perfect technique, Cédric Grolet at Le Meurice is a great, young pastry chef. My friend Christophe Michalak’s boutiques would be another favourite spot or, for a chocolate craving, Jean-paul Hévin. I can’t not mention Claire Damon at Des Gâteaux et du Pain – precision and taste, not to be missed!
My favourite hotel has to be The Connaught in London. Such a beautiful place and only a few minutes away from one of our London boutiques in Belgravia. Hélène Darroze, a dear friend’s restaurant at the hotel, is also one of my favourite spots in London.
I recently worked with Bernar Venet to develop a fève [cake charm] for our 2018 Epiphany cake; it was just a pleasure to work with him as well as discovering his wife, Diane Venet’s, work too. She recently brought out a book about her collection of artists’ jewellery, a very inspirational read. She is currently holding an exhibition in Paris on the same topic at Le Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris: “De Calder à Koons, bijoux d’artistes.”
The ideal break for me would be taking a nap, in the shade, in Corsica, with the iconic scent of Immortelle in the air. Corsica has been a real source of inspiration for me – the land is rich with such amazing herbs and plants like the Immortelle flower, lemon and Nepeta.
I always have my personal knife with me – it is a Laguiole designed by [Irish culinary designer] Yann Pennor’s and signed by the [French knife workshop] Forge de Laguiole.
“I would not necessarily look for traditional patisseries ”