The names of France’s prodigy pastry chefs – Pierre Hermé, Philippe Conticini, Christophe Michalak and Christophe Adam – have been on everyone’s lips for more than ten years, earning them star status in the city. Pierre Hermé was the first to pull planet patisserie into the luxury orbit by pairing food and fashion. His regular “collections” transformed the macaroon into a precious jewel, although he’s probably better known for his bestselling Ispahan macaroon biscuit with rose petal, raspberry and litchi cream.
The next star in our galaxy of fame is Philippe Conticini, who brought classics like lemon tart and the Paris-Brest bang up-to-date, reworking recipes and showcasing his creations under elegant glass domes. Following in the footsteps of these masters, a new wave of chefs – a few years their junior – arrived on the scene with no intention of doing things the old-fashioned way. They brought pastries back into the mainstream, with a little help from TV. In fact, just one or two programs starring Christophe Michalak, Christophe Adam and Cyril Lignac were enough to make confectionary trendy and sexy again, cementing the reputations of these chefs at the spin of a whisk.
As head pastry chef at the Plaza Athénée, Christophe Michalak opened a string of stores and invented his celebrated Kosmik verrines and his Klassiks, which give a new twist to signature French cakes. At a single stroke, he became an icon of fun, edgy confectionary. More recently he launched the elegant Choux d’Enfer street kiosk in tandem with Alain Ducasse, selling sweet and savory choux pastry filled at the last moment for extra freshness. His media twin, Christophe Adam, known for his pop colors and sense of fun, made his mark with the Éclair de Génie and his eponymous cakes, which are now available in a hundred flavors and flashy colors. Head of five patisseries, he embarked on a new adventure by creating his first café in the trendy Abbesses neighborhood before opening a branch in the Gare du Nord this fall. A cozy, relaxed space, it’s the perfect place to sit and enjoy a coffee while savoring one of his delicious creations.
As for Cyril Lignac, after a string of TV and restaurant successes, he finally opened a confectionary store in Paris in 2011, rapidly followed by several new outlets. Other starred chefs have since declared their love of the sugary arts. Manuel Martinez, “Meilleur ouvrier de France” and two-star chef at Le Relais Louis XIII, opened the Maison du Chou in Paris. The same year, Jean-François Piège created Gâteaux Thoumieux, his patisserie on rue Saint-Dominique where he showcases his sweet creations, followed by two-star chef Akrame Benallal, who launched Mad’leine in 2015, inspired by his childhood memories of snack-time goodies! He indulges his customers in bold flavors with a stylish edge in packaging designed by a duo of street artists. Thanks to these chefs, the grand old lady of French cuisine got a new spring in her step!