Pastry passion with Samer Kobeissi, owner and executive chef of Des Choux et Des Idées

Pastry passion with Samer Kobeissi, owner and executive chef of Des Choux et Des Idées

With a background in engineering, Samer Kobeissi found his calling in the kitchen, where he was drawn to a world of architecturally beautiful, flavorful and textured desserts. We took time out with the talented chef in his vibrant Beirut pastry shop to discover his likes, dislikes and what drives him to deliver his best in each and every creation.  

What can you tell us about your journey? 

I studied engineering, but, at a certain point, I shifted away from my profession to explore the world of pastry: something I have always been passionate about. I took a huge leap of faith and traveled to Paris to pursue my dream. I knew that if I wanted to really grow not just turn a hobby into a business I needed the right training and experience. So, I studied at École Grégoire-Ferrandi and worked at George V, where I honed my skills. The whole journey was for the sole purpose of opening my own pastry shop, which I was able to accomplish in 2016.  

What differentiates Des Choux et Des Idées from other pastry shops in Beirut? 

Our concept is built on doing things differently. You won’t find mainstream pastry in our pastisserie; instead, we work with seasonal fruits and high-quality artisanal ingredients that celebrate craftsmanship. Ultimately, we do not introduce a new item to our range of desserts until we have properly researched and perfected it.  

What are your specialties? 

Our entire range is signature. We work on architectural layering to provide equilibrium and a joyful experience in every bite. Balancing sweet and bitter/acidic flavors is very important, and we focus a great deal on this. In terms of our chocolate desserts, we use Valrhona. 

Do you use local ingredients in your pastries? 

We love to support local production. In Lebanon, we are extremely lucky to have such variety, especially in terms of fruits. However, it is unfortunate that there is a lack of appreciation for certain items. For instance, while pistachio is quite common in high-end pastry shops in France, in Lebanon, there is a common misconception that this ingredient belongs to oriental sweet categories. 

Although it can be challenging to change mindsets and perceptions, we are doing our best to educate people to be more open to Lebanese flavors like rose water and orange blossom in more sophisticated desserts. We seem to have got it right so far. 

What are you inspired by? 

Inspiration comes from different places; it could be a magazine or something on television. Traveling to Paris always gets my creative juices flowing. Funnily enough, I was grocery shopping in the French capital and saw Williams pears, which made something click in my head. It’s from that experience that I decided to make our now-popular pear tart. 

Generally speaking, a great deal of what is going on in Paris is inspiring. I find that chefs over there are constantly challenging tradition, reinventing and deconstructing pastries. They are passionate about their art, and that leads to innovation.  

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