I didn’t think anything could rank higher than the opportunity I had last year to observe Sébastien Gaudard and his team prepare the Bûche de Noël for the year but last week’s visit to the kitchens of Fauchon, the épicerie fine that launched in 1886, trumped it by far. After several hours of observation and chatting with young pastry chef Patrick Pailler, I went into the tasting with a much greater sense of how the operation has functioned all these years.
At the two week mark before Christmas, Fauchon was already working in overdrive to stock the Madeleine shop with their regular roster of pastries in addition to their limited edition holiday bûches, éclairs, and cakes. They do brisk business within the span of three weeks thanks to a more robust staff of 25, who set off to work long before the sun surfaces, and private orders that filter in daily (last year, Fauchon sold over 1,000 bûches and 2,200 santa hat cakes). I’ve never understood how people can dig into such beautiful pieces of food art and even less so now that I’ve seen firsthand the exacting technique and immense labor that goes into each glaze, cream puff, chocolate tarte or millefeuille (the company’s bestseller). In the end, I succumbed to temptation and tried a whole host of treats, each with their own striking character.
A sweet sampling awaits below….
**More photos from my Fauchon visit HERE.