In honor of the first edition of the Salon de la Pâtisserie, which took place from 15 to 17 June in Paris, the pastry chef Pierre Hermé, Honorary President of the event, sat down with us to talk about his inspirations, some current trends, Madeleine de Proust, and Alsatian specialties in his delicious interview.
France.fr: What made you accept the honor of becoming the president of the first edition of the Salon de la Patisserie?
Pierre Hermé: What I like in this kind of exercise is the exchange, and sharing with the public. I am flattered to represent the profession’s values such as excellence and sharing of tecnical know-how, which are fundamental concepts in our business and contribute to its development. There is a high amount of interest in our business, especially right now, that attracts lots of people.
France.fr: What are the main trends in French pastry?
P.H.: One of the trends of the moment is an intense attention to sugar. Sugar should be used as a seasoning by putting the right rate without overwriting the taste. For my part, I have been working on it for a long time and it coincides with what people are looking for today.
France.fr: What differentiates French pastry from others? What is its little extra soul?
P.H.: There are many types of cooking in the world. As for pastry, there is a real French preponderance. Our know-how serves as a reference all over the world. The techniqual precision is very high, and France is one of the founding countries of pastry savoir-faire. There is therefore a very great tradition and at the same time a great creativity, and even more for the last 20 years. This involves the use of new ingredients, new ways of using basic techniques, etc. There is a real diversity of styles and trends.
France.fr: Where do you get your inspiration?
P.H.: I draw my inspiration everywhere: in conversation, in an image, from reading … the ingredients are also inspiring for me. For example, I like to interpret salty ingredients in a sweet version. This was the case with the le Jardin des Poètes macaron for which I wanted to use white miso, unusual in pastry, by marrying it with a touch of yuzu lemon.
France.fr: What is your most iconic pastry?
P.H.: We should do a survey the exit of the shops! But I would say Ispahan lychee raspberry. It combines flavors that work very well together: the sweetness of the rose, the lychee perfume, the brutality of the raspberry. It forms a very harmonious whole. Customers come to our store to discover our favorite products: the Infiniment vanilla, the Infiniment praline hazelnut tarte, or the Carrément chocolat. These are the iconic pastries of the house.
France.fr: You are Alsatian. What are the culinary specialties of your region of origin?
P.H.: In pastry, I would say kouglof, bredeles (Christmas cupcakes, ed.), plum tarts with damson or mirabelle, rhubarb meringue, black forest cake… not bad, right?
France.fr: What is your Proustian madeleine? (what treat gives you a sense of nostalgia)
P.H.: The damson plum tart that my father made, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. I tried to reproduce it, but it will never be as good as in my memory!
France.fr: You are about to open your coffee in Beaupassage, Paris. Can you tell us more about this project?
P.H.: Indeed, we are soon opening a café in Beaupassage (open-air passage dedicated to culinary shops and restaurants signed Yannick Alléno, Anne-Sophie Pic, Thierry Marx, Pierre Hermé, etc., ed), in the 7th arrondissement of Paris. The interior designer Laura Gonzalez has designed a fresh, bright, and poetic decor echoing the creations of the house, in a Parisian atmosphere, warm and modern that highlights the craftsmanship of the various trades that worked on the design of this café: carpentry, pastry, etc. You will find home-made pastries, macaroons, chocolates, cakes and ice cream as well as a savory menu with simple things that you’d want to eat in a place like this. The café will also offer a brunch, as well as a barista party themed around coffee and tea. The opening is scheduled for 25 August 2018.