Several years ago, French pastry was a steady, unchanging world. People found comfort in the familiar, well-loved flavours, and didn’t want it to change. The pastry chefs were similarly restrained in their approach to pastry; they didn’t want anything to change and stuck to their roots. For several years, while other branches of the culinary world evolved, experimented, and grew, the world of the pastry chef remained the same.
That all changed in the early 2000s. A magical thing for the pastry world happened. The best in the business started to experiment. They started to break the rules and started to go where no pastry chef had ever gone before.
What Started It?
Many believe that the reason behind the popularity of the French and other patisserie is the economic downturn the world faced. People simply found it more economical to bite into a luxurious pastry instead of a dinner at some fine dining restaurant. Industry insiders also speculate that the link between childhood and sweet things like pastries might also be a reason.
With a growing popularity of pastries, the pastry world started to attract a new breed of talent. These young, fearless chefs wanted to revolutionize the way the world looked at pastries. They wanted to bring a new, almost dramatic flair to the traditional pastries and they did just that.
Known Game Changers
Pastry chefs used to be on the fringe of the culinary world and their influence was limited. That all changed when a new generation of pastry chefs started to challenge the norm. Now, there are several chefs that enjoy rock star status. Some of them are:
Known as the Picasso of Pastry, Hermé is known for his eclectic flavours of macarons. He doesn’t shy away from the unusual ingredients and makes macarons in olive oil and vanilla, Faux Gras, and other such flavours. He’s on top of every list of great French pastry chefs.
Ever heard of the popcorn éclair? Or a chocolate and truffle éclair that looks like a capsule from space? Adam has completely transformed the face of éclairs and now has a fan following all over the world because of it. His éclairs are unapologetically whimsical, quirky, inventive, and yet delicious. He has 80 variations of the same pastry, that’s saying something.
In a globalized world, it’s not surprising that two entirely different food cultures could come together to form something beautiful. Aoki is known for infusing Japanese ingredients and restraint into French flair. The results are desserts that look clean, sophisticated, and taste wonderful.
Most people who visit this patisserie in Paris are in awe of the elegance and the inventiveness of his pastries. He makes sure to include interesting flavour combinations without it being too out of the way. His lemon tart was considered the best in 2010. He also specializes in vanilla millefeulles. He favours colours and visual appeal and obviously considers his pastries art.
Ansel is famous for creating a hybrid, a cross between the French classic croissant and the American classic donut. The hybrid is called Cronut and while it sounds ridiculous, it has gotten him much acclaim. He lives in New York and his bakery has won him several awards.
These chefs and several others have transformed the landscape of French pastry making and heralded a change in the industry. Pastry is no longer a distant and ignored cousin of mainstream cooking; it has started to take centre stage, thanks to chefs that think out of the box.
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