Every so often an invitation crosses your desk you just can’t refuse and the Workshop Fou de Patisserie with three mega star patisserie chefs was an event I wasn’t going to miss. Was also a good reason to spend a few days in Paris visiting suppliers and maybe squeeze in a bit of shopping. It was sale time in Paris after all.
Held in a divine apartment in the 9th arrondissement with views of Sacre Coeur the day started with an amazing breakfast provided by Maxime Frederic, Pastry Chef at the George V hotel (best pastry chef of the year. First, an amazing cake, which unfortunately I cant remember the name of, followed by pastries fresh out of the oven and we are not talking ordinary pastries. No, no, no. We are talking the lightest buttery brioche, croissants that flaked into your mouth and the most perfect pain au chocolat, the recipe for which Maxime had been perfecting for months. Maxime started life as a baker and so his approach combines baking and pastry chef skills and he delighted us with stories of practising his techniques and ideas in his mothers kitchen with minimal modern kitchen equipment.
Once we reached maximum pastry consumption it was time for a hands on class with Maxime as he taught us how to make and assemble Roule Fraise/Rhubarb and then we could practise our decorating skills on our individual creations. This is definitely a recipe will be trying back at the chateau as is was SO delicious.
Co-Host Lindsey Tramuta, author of the fabulous “The New Paris” book @lostncheeseland then provided some great tips and hints on food styling and photography before we sat down to a delicious informal lunch. Apres lunch it was off to the Bristol Palace Hotel which has to be one of the most amazing hotels I have ever visited. Cool vibe and very French. After meeting the hotel’s resident Burmese cat FaRaon, who has her own room, we were shown to a beautiful private room off the central courtyard where Chef Julien Alvarez (world pastry chef) unveiled his latest dessert creation for the hotels Michelin starred restaurant. Served in a cocoa pod under a glass dome it was the most well balanced and amazing chocolate dessert I think I have ever eaten.
We then toured the hotels kitchens to see all the chefs in action. I was mesmerised by the incredible array of serving dishes and crockery and how swiftly they plated the most complex dishes. Then it was back to the private room for afternoon tea which started with raspberry apple cake fresh out of the oven followed by a selection of pastries that looked like pieces of art. They were so beautiful it almost seemed a shame to eat them but we all managed to sample quite a few with my favourite being the lemon Yuzu chou.
Having eaten our body weight in french cakes we then returned to the apartment for a Masterclass with one of the best pastry chef’s in the world, Pierre Herme who demonstrated how to make his Entremet Ultime (Ultimate Dessert). It was a delicious combination of chocolate and vanilla and Pierre impressed upon us the need to ensure all the flavours are balanced and you should always take care that one flavour does not over power the others. The ways in which Pierre draws inspiration and ideas for new flavours and creations is amazing and he is an unique and gifted individual, some would say a magician.
After an aperitif and conversation it was time to say goodbye. But wait there was more….the most fabulous gifts to take home including one of Maxime’s mini cakes that was delicious next morning for breakfast. Between the gifts and my Paris shopping (the sales were amazing) I went home with a much fuller and heavier suitcase. It is a day I will remember for a very long time.
Fou de Patisserie do offer workshops on a regular basis so if you are visiting Paris and want to hone up your patisserie skills it is worth checking what they are running http://www.foudepatisserie.com/ but if your French is basic or non-existant don’t forget to check if English translation is provided. Alternatively, if you like the eating more than the making then why not try breakfast at the George 5, afternoon tea at the Bristol Paris Hotel or drop into a Pierre Herme boutique to admire and purchase his latest creations. Now back to the kitchen to get in a bit more patisserie practice.