He sold three thousand boxes on the first day of a chocolate fair in a department store in Tokyo and then ran out of goods for sale.
I’ve heard that you are opening a shop in Japan next spring. Was this your own idea?
I received an offer from a Japanese partner. Before that, I worked with Isetan for ten years. I’ve received offers from other Japanese companies too, but nothing definite. I was feeling dissatisfied with my business in Japan. For three years in a row, despite my requests, the department store didn’t order enough chocolates for their chocolate fair. So, all the goods sold out after the first day, and I was left watching clients drift toward the other brands for the rest of the week.
I was able to sell two or three thousand boxes of chocolates on the opening day of an event but had no products left for the rest of the week. This organization was holding me back.
I wanted to have a chance to develop, and to have my own boutique.
Being able to sell so many items shows that even without your own boutique you were well-known.
Yes. Even before the chocolate fair, all the products for sale online were sold out and there was a huge line on opening day. Of course, ten years ago I was happy to see so much success, but it was also frustrating knowing that we would run out of items for sale.
The demand was there, but I had no more products to sell. Ordering from France was a real disadvantage. Four days later, when they finally received five hundred extra boxes, they sold out in fifteen minutes. That’s why I’m very excited now about opening my own boutique and starting this new adventure.
In Paris, you used to be located in Montmartre only, but now, with your Saint Germain des Prés boutique, you have three shops. Do you plan on expanding further?
We just reopened our main pastry shop in Montmartre after remodeling (August 2016). In two weeks, we will have a corner set up in a Dubai department store. In Athens, Greece, we are working with the palace Hotel Grande Bretagne. In June, I created the dessert menus for their three restaurants; and in November we will open a chocolate and pastry shop in the hotel. It was the hotel that contacted me for this project. So, this year we already have quite a number of projects: Paris, Dubai, Athens, and Tokyo. We must put effort into each one.
Mentored by a local traditional pastry chef
I’d like to ask you some questions about your career. When did you first decide to become a pastry chef?
It was my childhood dream. I was always amazed to see how mixing things together will create a new product, how the cooking process will make the batter expand, and how beating egg whites will make them rise. Best of all, we could taste everything – I was a real gourmet. On weekends, my mother would bake typical cakes from Brittany, and I always baked with her. I really enjoyed stirring and mixing watching the evolution of the ingredients – I was always curious to see how they were transformed into the final product. But when it was time to choose my profession, my parents were not supportive. They wanted me to continue my studies, as most parents do.
You come from Brest in Brittany. Is the Paris-Brest a local specialty?
Yes, the Paris-Brest cake and caramel candies. We also have the Kouign Aman, and our gateaux bretons and galettes bretonnes (Brittany shortbread biscuits). That’s about it, but that’s already pretty good!
So, you entered the world of pastry after graduating from middle school?
I started my apprenticeship at sixteen. I worked in Brest for a very traditional pastry chef, Monsieur Michel Guillerm. He made things according to the rules. He taught me to make a good genoise and a good crème patissière (pastry cream), using simple and delicious quality ingredients. He gave me a good basis for starting my profession and he passed his enthusiasm on to me. Seeing that I was eager to learn more, he told me, “If you stay here in Brest, you will eventually get bored and you won’t grow. You must go to Paris.” So I came to Paris. When I arrived here and looked around at the pastry shops – Wow! It was amazing. I was eighteen.