Setback at 32, encounter with Japan, a new start
Tell us about your setbacks
I left the ‘Hôtel George V’ after 2 years. I left right before the ‘George V’ restaurant earned its three stars and I wasn’t able to take credit for it. Until then, I had always consecrated body and soul to my work, and I was used to receiving praise for my efforts. At age thirty-two and unemployed, I thought seriously about embarking on a new profession. I thought about studying to become an architect or a designer. That would have meant starting over from scratch and studying. But life works in mysterious ways – I was vindicated after leaving the ‘George V’ and I was thinking I wasn’t a bad patissier.
So what happened that made you want to stay in this profession?
While I was still working at the ‘George V’, I received a letter from the manager of the ‘Hotel Tokyu Cerulean Tower’. At that time my contract prevented me from taking on any consulting or side jobs, so I had to decline the offer. But as soon as I was out of a job, I called them back and told them I was available for consulting and thus went to make pastry for the Cerulean. At that time when I was feeling low, it was a gift to go to Japan. It reinforced the feeling of wanting to remain a patissier. I felt I had found a family to look after me. Going to Japan after this big failure helped me recover and reaffirmed my will to continue in that profession.
I’ve heard that ‘Hôtel le Bristol’ finally earned three stars after you arrived.
Eric from the ‘Hôtel le Bristol’ called me to join the team. I had been out of the “big leagues” for six years and I had doubts, but I was determined to do all I could; and the ‘Hôtel le Bristol’ did earn its three stars a year and a half after I joined the team.
Now sixteen patissiers work for me and I create the pastry for Epicure (a three Michelin star restaurant), the 114 (one Michelin star), the Café Antonia, the Jardin Français, plus room service and events.
The energy we put into the plate is transmitted to the client, who will feel this happy energy and in turn give it back to us
Tell us about your debut at ‘Hôtel le Bristol’.
When I started working here ten years ago, the desserts were pretty but didn’t have today’s style. It was a great achievement earning three stars right away – However, it took a lot of steps and processes to get to where we are now. Since Gilles Marchal and Eric Frechon were both doing top quality work, I had to keep up. It took time for me to put together my signature dessert. If you had asked me at that time: “What is your dessert style?” I wouldn’t have been able to answer the question.
What is the Laurent Jeannin dessert style today?
I invented the “turntable”, a new technique. It’s like a record player – we place the plate in the middle and make it spin automatically while decorating with a brush or a piping bag. You can also place a cake on it.
I was also the first to create the Nyangbo. We make a big chocolate sphere into which we cut out circles to give it a lace-like pattern. Now you can see it in a lot of restaurants. You can also see Citron givré –frosted lemon- in a lot of places. Mine uses a different concept, a fruit-like snow. And this, you can’t find it in other places yet. With my lychee dessert I’m proposing an expression of the fruit as a meringue snow. I created an emotion of lightness and a texture that didn’t exist before.
My desserts are creative and light, but I don’t want to forget “gourmandize”. Texture and temperature are very important to incite appetite.
Could you please tell us about the challenges and motivations in your work?
I feed off of the happiness I give to people. If the client is happy, it gives me energy. It is hard work trying to create something that will leave a lasting impression on people.
I pour all my energy into creation and into keeping my team together, while the team is giving its energy to making it happen. When we transmit to people all the energy we have poured into their plate, the person who eats it can feel it and receives all this happiness. They, in turn, give it back to us. This is the basis on which I keep on creating new things.
All these trials we encounter in our quest to give emotions to the client are the most meaningful part of our profession.