Working and learning more than anyone. Challenge of a Japanese woman who works as a chef pâtissier at a distinguished restaurant in Paris

Kimiko Kinoshita

Taillevent sweets

I do not focus on Japanese food. I always aim for new ideas.

Have you entered any competitions?

Ms. Kinoshita:
No. I am too busy at work and have no time. If I did it, I would need to prepare at home after work at night and it would take until 5am, so I do not do it.
There are many contests for Pièce montée (Big sweets of art), but for assiette dessert (plate-decorated desserts that are served at the end of the courses.) there are only a few and the deadline is in December. It is a busy time of the year so is difficult to join.
Well, these are all just excuses though.

When do you think of new dishes?

Ms. Kinoshita:
I don’t have a special time to come up with new ones. I love reading sweets magazines so I do it while reading, before sleeping, and while taking naps.
At “110”, I did not go home during my break time but slept in the hall. Sometimes when I cannot sleep, I happen to think about it. Recently, I don’t have any breaks though. I imagine while working.

Do you use Japanese food?

Ms. Kinoshita:
I don’t use it that much. Yuzu citrus smells good so I use it sometimes.
There are other good ingredients in France so I don’t need to use matcha or azuki.

There are many customers coming to Taillevent from abroad besides local French customers, and not all of them like matcha or azuki.

So it is not like because you are a Japanese pâtissier you are expected to make something Japanese?

Ms. Kinoshita:
No, not at all. When I went to help the PR event of Japanese food, they asked me to come up with a dessert using Japanese ingredients. I never use them. But it was very interesting to try. I have limited experience with this, so I struggled with ideas.

What are some things you would like to do?

Ms. Kinoshita:
There are many. I want to try candy craft, Pièce montée (Big sweets art) of chocolate etc. There are culinary schools specializing in this. I am too busy to attend now, but I am interested in it.

I like Japanese sweets so want to learn more about them, and also Italian sweets.
There are many sweets in France that are similar to traditional sweets of other counties. Specially, Japanese sweets are delicate and beautiful so I like them.
It is not something that is needed at Taillevent, though.

Taillevent Kimiko Kinoshita

A pâtissier, loved all around the world, speaks about the future.

How do customers evaluate your pastries?

Ms. Kinoshita:
They say the balance is good. As for the chocolate, it is not too sweet.
I think about the feeling in my mouth, and I finish it mild, which I like.
There is a dessertthat has been on the menufor along time because it is so popular.
We have been told not to remove it.

Compared to chefs, pâtissiers do not appear in media that much?

Ms. Kinoshita:
In my opinion, pâtissiers are considered much less than Chef de cuisine. So I understand that we don’t appear in media much. You don’t see their names even though there are a Chef pâtissiers at one star or two star restaurants.
Unless you open your own place, job prospects are not as wide as for normal chefs.

Like other chefs in France, you might be offered to supervise a kitchen?

Ms. Kinoshita:
I don’t know about that. But even if I am asked to supervise the kitchen or the menu, I would not accept payment, because it is all experienced gained.

In conclusion, could you tell us what you think is important at work?

Ms. Kinoshita:
Love is very important. It is not good if you think about whether it succeeds or fails. It is love. You finish love full of confidence. In Japan, I was taught to measure exactly, but in France it is usual to be 3 to 5 grams more or less.
The positioning of the scale and measurements do not need to be precise. So it is a feeling.

Appearance is important. It usually does not go well, if you see a recipe only and cook without confidence. Before starting you should imagine what you are going to make.
For example, I would think, “If it goes like this, let’s mix it like this.”
You will not get lost as long as you have prethought out images.

Taillevent interior

(Interview and writer: Akiko Awa, photographer:Hiroki TAGMA)

Taillevent interior


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