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Pierre Hermé

Pierre Hermé Paris is a leading international Maison of luxury patisserie with Pierre Hermé at the helm – the man who has revolutionised pastry-making with regard to taste and modernity over the course of his

Pierre Hermé Paris is a leading international Maison of luxury patisserie with Pierre Hermé at the helm – the man who has revolutionised pastry-making with regard to taste and modernity over the course of his career.

A member of the prestigious French luxury association, Comité Colbert, Pierre Hermé Paris is respected alongside and works together with other luxury brands such as Chanel, Hermès, Cartier or Champagne Krug to represent French culture and art de vivre across the world. We’ve sat down with the man himself for an exclusive interview.

Tell us about growing up and how you decided to become a pastry chef?

I am an heir to four generations of Alsatian bakery and pastry-making tradition. When I was a child, I spent lots of time observing my father working. He was the first one who gave me this passion. Then I left Alsace and became an apprentice to Gaston Lenôtre, who gave me the base, the deep knowledge and the values which I have built on ever since: the attention to detail, work well done, transmission. I will always work with these values in mind and transmit them to people who work with me. It is something very meaningful in my life.

You opened your first store in Tokyo, why Japan?

Our first boutique was in Japan at the Hotel New Otani in 1998. I had met and got to know the president of the hotel, M Otani, a remarkable person and after some small yet very successful and well received projects in the hotel and personally for M. Otani, we took the opportunity to launch the brand there and open the first Pierre Hermé Paris boutique!

How does it feel to be dubbed the “Picasso of Pastry”?

It was a pleasure to hear it coming from Jeffrey Steingarten, an important food critic from Vogue US who spent an entire week observing me work and judging up close! I don’t know if he was referring to the prolific, eclectic side of Picasso…in any case, it’s very flattering.

How do you get your inspirations for every season of your creations?

Inspiration can come from many different sources, a lot of the time it comes from the discovery or experimentation with an ingredient or ingredients. Sometimes a new creation can take a couple of weeks or sometimes I will work on a new flavour or combination for years. I sketch my ideas down first, in diagram form and write the recipe underneath. I always envisage what I call the architecture of taste – the sequence as you bite into the macaron, cake , chocolate… what happens first, what happens second, what may provide a surprise in the middle.

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How many different flavors do you create each season, and how many collections do you have per year?

The collections are based on seasons, we have SS and AW collections as well as punctual collections. Like the “Fetish” collections that regroup my reinterpretations around a unique flavour, flavour combination or pastry – a Fetish Infiniment Vanille, Fetish Ispahan or Fetish Cakes for example. We also have “Les Jardins” collections, a collection of ephemeral macarons, a different macaron each month over the year, a promenade through different flavours and experiences – 2015 is the fourth year, the first has just come out in Dubai – the Jardin dans les Pins, my first creation using pine buds – an exceptional, intriguing ingredient that I enjoyed thoroughly working on. The next one available in Dubai will be the Jardin des Près, a macaron with a small flower or four leaf clover placed by hand on each macaron, but that is all I’ll say for now!

Is there a certain flavor that you always like to repeat in your seasons?

We have four classic, signature flavours that are always part of the collection in all Pierre Hermé Paris boutiques – Mogador (milk chocolate and passion fruit), Infiniment Rose (rose and rose petals), Infiniment Caramel (salted-butter caramel) and Infiniment Chocolat Paineiras (Pure Origin dark chocolate from the Paineiras Plantation in Brazil).

What would you say has been your most creative flavor of macaron?

I wouldn’t say there is one most creative flavour – each creation is different and unique. The only challenge that interests me is making something exceptional. I strive to create a global sensory experience that touches upon all five senses and brings pleasure to the one that lives it.

What is your ‘sweetest’ memory?

My “madeleine de Proust” has to be the Tarte aux Quetsches of my father. Just pastry, plums from Alsace and cinnamon sugar. I am working on reinterpreting it myself!

Have you created any Middle Eastern inspired macarons?

We do not adapt our flavours for the different markets we open in, to local taste, culture or habits, and this is probably the greatest challenge we have had to face since starting the company. Tastes and preferences may vary, but our aim is to introduce new flavour associations and experiences and provide people with something different. My priority will always be taste. Of course, that doesn’t mean I can’t be inspired by Middle Eastern ingredients, like black lemon which I am currently doing a lot of experimenting with!

Where is the next location for Pierre Hermé Paris?

We have just opened in Azerbaijan in Baku and very soon to open in Saudi Arabia in Jeddah and then the next will be Bangkok. It is a very exciting time for Pierre Hermé Paris. My partner Charles Znaty and I work in a complementary way, handling the development of the company, but I always devote time to the creation of course!

When you are not working what do you like to do in your free time?

I like to go for walk around the Saint Germain des Prés area with its cafés, books shops and boutiques or go to my favourite market on Avenue President Wilson. I also like to enjoy brunch with friends at the Royal Monceau, read in the afternoon, have a home cooked dinner at home or at one of my favorite restaurants – Le Baratin or Hélène Darroze. Or even try new ones that just opened!

I also appreciate visiting art galleries or museums. Even when I am not working, I am always attentive to details and inspiration can spring from anywhere!

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