Alléno & Rivoire is the name of the chocolate factory that recently opened in Paris. How many years has your relationship with the chef been?
It has been more than a decade since Yannick Alléno was at Le Meurice. I started there with two genius pastry chefs, Camille Lesecq and Cédric Grolet. When chef Alléno left Le Meurice, I stayed for a while, then I became pastry chef at the 1947 Cheval Blanc in Courchevel, at that time a 2* winner for the third two years later. In 2014, at the age of 25, I joined Pavillon Ledoyen which had just earned a third star.
How is the relationship with the chef?
Chef Alléno trusted the young people, he took me under his wing. I work under pressure and he knows how to find words. He gave me advice about vision, position, bias. The idea is to make something radically memorable. Deep inside of me but without him it wouldn’t have been exposed. He was the first to trust me. We worked very hard on the creativity of the desserts. At the time, when I arrived, the pastry was ultra-design, but we didn’t want to do that, just change the product so it wouldn’t be forgotten by playing with technique, texture, seasoning, temperature … Our obsession was the creation of our identity, to mark by taste beyond design and Instagram.
Now, 8 years later, where are you?
Always the same way: learn and do! I experienced Chef Alléno’s sauce revolution, everything he did to succeed. I understand you have to be willing to take the risk, don’t rest on your laurels. The only risk you have is that it won’t work! The R&D lab at Ledoyen Pavilion became my playground and sports ground. It’s what keeps me going in my daily life. The sauce is a liquid concentrated in flavor, balance and seasoning. At one point we tried to make sorbets with extractions. We made 99% pear sorbet by cryoconcentration and textured gum arabic.
And how do you make your “fruit confit”, your signature?
We have successfully developed a sucrose -free storage technique that places our fruits between fruit candies and dried fruit. The difficulty is managing to control humidity with crystallization on the outside and water and fructose on the inside. When after three years of R&D and a lot of testing in the basement of the Pavilion, we discovered this, this way of fruit candy, we really felt something was being done. I work with chef Alléno and a team of 20 non -stop pastry chefs. There is a huge energy in this area of obsessively looking for the little detail and emotion that will stand up to the customer.
You use birch sap. Where did the idea come from?
Talk to a Finnish client who came to have dinner at the Pavilion! Birch juice is used as a more natural remedy, especially for its antiseptic qualities. I was just looking for a way to keep the fruit from spoiling. He sent me a sample and I gave it a try!
How long does the “candy” fruit last this way?
Each fruit has its own process, depending on its content of water, fiber, texture … Pineapple lasts six months! One raspberry, three weeks. You have to find the right combination for everyone. It takes a lot of testing. Nowadays we have mastered many products and we work with others, such as strawberries, which are more complicated because they are very watery and weak, or rhubarb, mango, beets …
What is the interest, in the end, in using this technique without sugar?
More than no sugar, I prefer to talk about good sugar, which doesn’t saturate the taste. By removing the sucrose, we allow the bitterness of the product to speak and reveal its true identity. You concentrate on the flavors, and you even bring in something else, fresh, like the flavor of the mango spices, and keep you from spreading the fruit… With that, we’re back to the usual plum ice cream, for example.
And the chocolate?
In chocolate, the revolution is the sauce, the ganache. The ganache is, in fact, a sauce, a take… And a chocolate 85% ganache and 15% coating and in this aspect we worked with one of the best, chocolate roaster Nicolas Berger. Of course we used our confits in some of our chocolates. And no more sugar.
Can we still innovate on pastry?
Yes, in the dough! Invented the new dough. The pastry chef’s lexicon is old. There is a lot of study about cooking, flours… Since the Spanish sponge cakes in 2000 and, before that, puff pastry, there hasn’t been much change.
Your personal ambition?
Mark the culinary heritage. Let the confits be a classic…