My views towards French pastry making changed dramatically when I joined Fauchon in their central kitchen in New York many years ago. I used to think French pastry making was a very laborious and often complex world which required a special innate talent. Slowly but surely, I started to understand the fundamental principles on how to go about preparing and constructing the elaborate creations the French are renowned for. At that time, we were still making many of the creations by the legendary Pierre Hermé (he left Fauchon in 1996) in addition to the classic Fauchon cakes like the famous Megeve. Having the chance to work with people that worked with him in France was an opportunity I just could not pass up.
The executive pastry chef who headed up Fauchon NYC was a French national who hailed from Fauchon in France (he worked alongside with Pierre Hermé), La Maison du Chocolat (France), and the famous Le Bernadin in NYC. His talented sous chef, also from Fauchon France, had complemented the executive pastry chef with a contemporary touch to the art of classical French cake and pastry making. I had the added pleasure of working with many creative pastry chefs who provided that much needed mentorship during my early days of training and who also had a large influence in my approach to French pastry making today. Day in, day out, we collectively worked as a team to churn out breads, cakes, pastries and ice-creams for the Fauchon retail shops, hotels, and restaurants that we were supplying to on a contractual basis. Because we were a small kitchen (as compared to the large setup in France), we would produce all the components by hand. For example, we made Jaconde (very thin almond cake) by hand whereas due to the large volumes required, our counterparts in France would purchase the Jaconde from a third party supplier. Our need to produce everything in-house gave me a very intimate understanding of how to create the base components from scratch.
To this day, I remain inspired by very innovative pastry chefs around the world. In Asia in particular, I revel at the creative genius of Sadaharu Aoki (http://www.sadaharuaoki.fr/index2.php) with his harmonic blend of Japanese and French ingredients and of Pichot Ong (http://www.pichetong.com/home.php) with his innovative marriage of South East Asian and French influences in his sweet concoctions.
To give you a taste of what it takes to make a cake at Fauchon, I have included a link that demonstrates the making of the famous Megève by the ex-Executive Pastry Chef of Fauchon NYC.
If you would like to download this file, you can right-click on the link and save the file onto your computer.
If you would like further details on how this cake is made, don’t hesitate to send me a note. We used to make this cake daily since it was a very big seller at the Fauchon retail shops.