Pierre Hermé

Avant-garde French choco­latier and pâtissier known as the “Pi­casso of pas­try”

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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 ”

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