Pierre Hermé, the star of French pastry
Heir to four generations of Alsatian bakers and pastry chefs, Pierre Hermé began his career at the age of 14, mentored by Gaston Lenôtre. Today, the man labelled by Vogue as the "Picasso of pastry" has 29 points of sale, including many in Paris, Strasbourg, Nantes, Nice and Lyon, and makes mouths water worldwide.
How would you define your work?
I consider pastry making an art form, a way of expressing sensibility, much like music, painting, sculpture. It's a very precise craft, the only creative liberty being the quest for taste.
What is your philosophy?
Before all else, I aim to bring pleasure to others by allowing them to discover new sensations. When I dream up a pastry, I know precisely what the taste scenario will be, which flavour will come first, making way for another...
In your opinion, what will become the major pastry trends in the comin years?
Today we dare create, imagine and try new experiences. When we talk about macarons, many refer to them as a fashionable phenomenon, yet that is not the case. Macarons are and will always remain a great pastry classic.
Which are your signature macarons, and what are some of your most original flavour combinations?
I would say Mogador (milk chocolate and passion fruit), Infiniment Porcelana and Infiniment Caramel. One of my favourite creations, the Ispahan, is a mix of rose, raspberry and litchi, and perfectly evokes the rose gardens of Persia's ancient imperial capital. When I first began learning how to make macarons in 1976, pastry chefs had a fairly limited repertoire, with coffee, chocolate, vanilla and raspberry. I quickly understood that the interior of a macaron is the element that gives it its essence and taste, so I focused my work on that detail. Then, I added flavours like pistachio, lemon and rose, which were fairly audacious at that time. In 1994, I wanted to go further in terms of taste and texture, and so flavours like Lemon & Basil, White Truffle & Hazelnut, Olive Oil & Vanilla were born.
Where do you find inspiration?
Inspiration comes from an ingredient, a product, an emotion, or even from a conversation. It also comes, of course, from my passion for my work.
What is your guilty pleasure?
A fresh fruit salad, which I prepare every morning. It's a ritual.