Which chefs have shaped who you are today?
I have been blessed to meet a number of great chefs throughout my career in Africa, Europe and Asia. Some of those who’ve helped me along the way include: chef Derotteleur, instructor at Bourges school; Steve Judith; Olivier Bajard; Sebastien Bouillet, pâtisserie Lyon relais dessert; and Fabrice David, chef pâtissier at Ecole Valrhona in Tokyo. I am incredibly grateful to these culinary experts for making my professional journey a great learning experience. Their dedication to the kitchen and commitment to cooking skills have taught me a great deal I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to learn from the best.
How can Valrhona products help chefs be more creative?
Valrhona helps chefs think out of the box. In life, the more you get to work with different people, the more you learn. Beyond pastry, the world is full of beautiful things waiting to be discovered, pushing you creatively and inspiring you in different ways. Life, after all, offers a beautiful kind of magic that stimulates our senses.
What are your top tips for pastry chefs seeking sustainability in their kitchens?
When it comes to sustainability, try to be as reasonable as possible. Don’t be hard on yourself. Set achievable goals, adjust if necessary and keep moving forward. As the movement gains traction, chefs must take into account the crucial factors that affect sustainability, such as food sourcing, menu engineering in line with customers’ expectations, waste management (minimizing and eliminating all forms of waste) and communication (sharing the commitment to a more sustainable food system). Furthermore, chefs can draw inspiration from Valrhona as it continues to reimagine how it chooses local ingredients, respects seasonality, recycles garbage, generates a circular economy, reduces wasted energy and food, respects biodiversity and showcases the value of community. The brand even has an Ethical Gastronomy Handbook, which is available to support the Drôme branch’s partners through the transition so that everyone can take part and drive change.
In your opinion, which pastry trend is the one to follow in 2023?
I would say “reasonable gastronomy” is the trend to watch. Nowadays, people tend to overconsume, that is why chefs need to educate consumers and present them with a dessert that not only compliments the meal but also takes their health into consideration. Fédéric Bau, Valrhona’s experimental pastry chef, showcased this new way to thinking pastry in his latest book, titled “Reasoned Gourmandise”, which explores the fundamentals of healthy and harmonious pastry that respects the flavors and textures of the great classics.
After having spent a month or so in the region, how would you describe the chocolate scene in the Middle East?
I have noticed that people in the Middle East love confectionery. There is a genuine passion for pastry and chocolate, and I really admire that about the region’s culture. Sweets are a staple of the MENA region’s culinary scene, and you can always find them in people’s homes.