Brand View: President 50th Anniversary
How did you become a pastry chef?
I have always wanted to be a pastry chef, even at a very young age. I was six-years-old when I started to make cakes as soon as I returned home from school. The passion endured, and when I was done with secondary school, I joined a vocational school in Versailles, France, where I graduated as a pastry chef two years later. When I started my vocational training, I had a dream to work for Lenôtre. When I graduated, I did join the Lenôtre team as a pastry chef.
What do you like most about this specific culinary art?
The advantage of pastry is that it’s versatile; there are many, many things you can do with the same set of ingredients, and you can always experiment and try new things. It’s not just about baking cakes; you have the viennoiserie, croissants, chocolate, and many other preparations of pastry. Overall, the estimated number of pastry recipes is anywhere between 5,000 and 10,000 recipes!
What is your signature recipe, and where do you find your sources of inspiration?
My two signatures are the tropézienne tart and the traditional baguette. The tropézienne tart, or La Tarte Tropézienne as it is known in French, is a mixture between a cake and a pie. It’s light, easy to eat, large enough, and very fresh. The traditional baguette is also very popular with my clients. I bake the baguette to a pre-cooked form, and people buy them in packages of 10, freeze them, and take one out of the freezer every day. As for the inspiration, let me say that we are inspired every day: by the staff who come from different regions and countries, and by the interesting and varying requests of different customers. Some of my clients are coffee shops and hotels, who ask me to bake their cakes in line with specific requirements, which means that the cakes I prepare are different. For example, I prepare ten different types of tiramisu, and even though the recipe for each of them may be the same every time, the design varies.
Which ingredients do you use, and how do you find them?
Ingredients are very important. Considering that I make French pastries, I obviously use French products. I use mainly butter and cream, both from France. Being French myself, I need those ingredients to be of perfect quality. The same goes for chocolate. I believe it is important that we use French products to represent our country.
When it comes to finding the right ingredients, I must say that we’re lucky here in Dubai. There are many 5-star-hotels in town, as well as many suppliers who will make sure they give us what we are looking for. When I first arrived here in 2001, things weren’t quite as they are now. It was difficult finding French products, since only a few SKUs were available.
How important are dairy products in your kitchen?
Dairy products are very important. Président products, for example, are essential to my tropézienne tart. For brioche, I use Président butter. Dairy products have a rich taste that you can’t get with non-dairy products. Butter and milk have a distinct smell, to the opposite of vegetable cream, which is white, bland, and odourless. In my expertise, Président cream is brimming with smell, taste, texture and richness, and the finished product well incorporates these elements.
How can we determine the quality of butter and cream?
You can tell by the smell and the place of origin. In France we have a worldwide reputation for great production quality. This is exactly what you get with the Président brand of products, which mirrors this French reputation and the values it is built on.
What advice do you give to aspiring pastry chefs?
It’s a job where you have to get up at 4 am. You have to be brave, love this job and, of course, be passionate. You don’t simply become a pastry chef; you are born one. It’s always been inside you. It’s a gift.