Creativity in Chocolate with La Maison du Chocolat

29 November 2016
La Maison du Chocolat Petrossian Collaboration

One of the chapters of my book that I found the most fascinating to research and write was the one dedicated to sweets, which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise for those of you that have followed me over the years. Beyond the beauty of these creations, I was on a mission to understand more about the industry and its evolutions overall. Locals and visitors might have a passing knowledge of the ways in which pastry and chocolate have changed in recent years — perhaps they recognize new flavors or new forms or even more creative packaging — but what I learned is that the shifts run much deeper. One of the references in my research was Nicolas Cloiseau, a Meilleur Ouvrier de France in chocolate and the creative director of La Maison du Chocolat, his home for the last twenty years. What intrigues me about Cloiseau’s work is not only his perpetual task of reinvention and keeping classics “fresh” but how he tries to innovate without steering regular chocolate clients too far off course. He’s adventurous but just so. He’s also smart: he knows that it’s a gradual process to get chocolate lovers to take a break from their reliable favorites and […]…

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Paris Pastry Concept Store: Fou de Pâtisserie

9 May 2016

Short of wine and cheese, little is as tied to France as pastry and in Paris, the options are legion. In between  simple, everyday neighborhood bakeries all across town are the haute outposts for some of the country’s most beloved talents – many with multiple shops to their name. So with such cultural value bestowed on sweets and the savoir faire required to make them, you would think (or at least, I always thought) there would be a one-stop shop in the city to access a variety of them. I adore Jonathan Blot’s cakes at his bakery-tea salon called Acide but it’s in Batignolles (17th arrondissement) and not a quick trip from my home. Pillowy Madeleines by Gilles Marchal are truly divine but I’ll only indulge if I find myself in Montmartre where is sole shop is located. And as much as I love the tartes, chocolates and financiers of Hugues Pouget at his boutique Hugo & Victor, it’s clear across town. Creating a central location for some of the best treats the city has to offer was the abiding mission of Julie Mathieu and Muriel Tallandier, editors of the pastry bi-monthly magazine Fou de Pâtisserie (for which I am a […]…

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In the Kitchen with: chef Romain Meder, Plaza Athénée

1 February 2016

In eleven days, eighteen chefs will gather under the exquisite glass canopy of the Grand Palais to share their cooking with food lovers young and old for the second annual Taste of Paris food festival. In anticipation of the big day, I went into the kitchens of the restaurant Alain Ducasse at the Plaza Athénée (just awarded 3 Michelin stars for 2016) to chat with head chef Romain Meder about the event, his cooking and how haute cuisine in Palace hotels compete with the city’s top neo-bistros. La question obligatoire: what is it like working with Alain Ducasse?  There’s nothing like it. He gives us tremendous responsibility and allows us to be autonomous. We mature very quickly working by his side. In some cases, you’re working on the other side of the world — like I was, when he sent me to open Idam Doha, Qatar. You don’t see him all the time so you’re forced to convey his philosophy and his message to local teams and to diners. The opportunity he gave me in Doha was invaluable. It was challenging, of course: open a gastronomic restaurant, a café, several boutiques in museums. I had 51 cooks and a blank […]…

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My 5 Favorite Restaurants in Paris

12 November 2015

If there is any question I am asked at least a handful of times per week it’s, “what are your absolute favorite restaurants in Paris”? which is somewhat akin to asking a parent which child they prefer. I don’t like to play favorites because at this point, there is so much good food in Paris that I feel like I would be doing myself and those asking a disservice by narrowing down my selection to only one or two. BUT while I value what many chefs are creating in Paris right now, there are only a handful of places I return to time and again. The 5 restaurants below meet my personal requirements for a quality meal, from the atmosphere and service to what’s on the plate. Will these change with time? Possibly. And if they do, I will update this post accordingly. I hope these pique your interest ! Bon appétit ! PIERRE SANG ON OBERKAMPF / ATELIER PIERRE SANG ON GAMBEY Since Pierre Sang, Top Chef finalist and former Christian Constant pupil, opened his first restaurant in 2012, I’ve observed his evolution with studied interest. His market-to-table ethos carries over to his new atelier Pierre Sang on Gambey, which opened in August, but […]…

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Shakespeare & Company Café Opens in Paris

12 October 2015

There are a few special places in Paris that need little introduction – the Louvre, Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, a handful of parks and, I’d argue, the literary institution, Shakespeare & Company. But I’ll give you a little background anyway. When it was owned by American expat Sylvia Beach in the 1920s-1930s, it was a magnet for the period’s literary greats, from Hemingway to Fitzgerald and Joyce. It shuttered during the Nazi occupation and only reopened in 1951, when George Whitman, another American, took over the space. Under Whitman’s charge, the bookshop continued to be a draw for writers (Langston Hughes, Anais Nin, James Baldwin) who came to work, hangout and eventually present their work. When he passed, his daughter Sylvia took the reigns and has grown the business ever since. That one bookshop with such legacy has been so fervently protected and cared for is a testament to Sylvia’s love for the space; what it symbolizes within her family and for so many readers and writers around the world. So when I was interviewing Marc Grossman of Bob’s Bake Shop (and Bob’s Juice Bar and Bob’s Kitchen) for my book and learned he was going to be involved […]…

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