Nina Métayer has won numerous pastry awards over the years. Here, the renowned pastry chef, owner of Nina Métayer SAS and creative force behind ninametayer.com and delicatisserie.com shares her story on how she made an impact and shattered the glass ceiling of her industry.
How did your journey lead you to being named the world’s best pastry chef by the International Union of Bakers and Pastry Chefs (UIBC)?
Dreaming of returning to Mexico as a 16-year-old exchange student sparked the beginning of this nostalgic journey. Bread making is a French skill that deserves to be exported. Therefore, my goal was to open the first bakery in Playa del Carmen ou Tulum. It is a booming tourist destination. So, after the baccalaureate, I began a vocational training course to become a baker. Driven by a passion for advanced techniques and creativity, I pursued pastry training at Ferrandi School, dedicating myself wholeheartedly.
I started out in the Parisian palaces, a world that is a school of exacting standards and excellence. At Le Meurice, under Yannick Alléno’s guidance and Camille Lesecq’s sweet brigade, I honed my craft, gaining invaluable experience. Then, I had the opportunity to showcase my skills at Hôtel Raphaël, where I assumed my first role as a chef. I learned a lot from Jean-François Piège’s sensitivity and high standards in the kitchens of the Michelin-starred “Le Grand Restaurant”. At Café Pouchkine, I discovered once more the world of boutique pastry-making, in an international context.
These experiences and my day-to-day work have forged my know-how and creativity. Feeling the urge to emancipate, I aimed to fully master my profession and make a wholehearted commitment, standing on my own.
How does it feel to be the first woman recognized by your peers in this significant way?
It is an honor to have been chosen by the National Bakery and Pastry Confederation as France’s pastry candidate. It was also a joy to become a finalist and win World Pastry Chef 2023 from the International Union of Bakers and Confectioners.
This award recognizes my career and, above all, the daily dedication of my teams, who consistently exceed expectations. This title recognizes not just a single “feat” or competition piece but a body of know-how, commitment, entrepreneurship and innovation capacity. Being the first woman to receive this title is especially gratifying. It signifies breaking through the glass ceiling, inspiring progress in various fields. It’s a great way of telling all girls and women that they too can reach the highest level.
You are at the helm of Délicatesserie, an online patisserie. How has this platform allowed you to express your creativity and what challenges and opportunities come with operating in the digital pastry space?
When I launched delicatisserie.com, my inaugural online boutique with no physical counterpart, I was betting on a fully digitalized future. I aimed to address environmental and social concerns by adopting an on-demand production model for delicatisserie.com, reflecting my values. Operating at a high standard involves quality ingredients and organized teams focusing on their skills, contributing to the beauty of our craft.
Today, apart from the laboratory, we have two additional pickup points serving as sales outlets in Paris and Issy-les-Moulineaux.
Digital technology is at the service of our craft. It also makes it easier for our teams to organize their work. Displaying real-time order data at the lab enables customers to order online until 3 am on the same day. Of course, this is subject to daily production capacity. This also enables us to better manage and anticipate workloads and raw material supplies.
The world of patisserie is continually evolving. What trends and innovations do you find most exciting or challenging?
For centuries, patisseries have adapted to innovations like organic yeast and refrigerated cabinets. Furthermore, almond cream, choux pastry, and modern puff pastry, crucial elements, were crafted by innovative artisans between the 16th and 19th centuries. Contemporary patisserie aligns with current values, especially environmental consciousness. Additionally, emphasizing local, seasonal fruits resonates with consumers, who appreciate the rationale behind limited offerings like strawberry tarts in December. Innovation extends to using tools like 3D printers for customized, small-batch molds, creating intricate edible tiles for galettes des rois.