François Perret: The Madeleine Maestro at The Ritz Paris
You may know François Perret from his 2020 Netflix series “The Chef in a Truck.” Or the pastry fans among you may recognize his name from that most prestigious of awards: the world’s best restaurant pâtissier (2019). Or, perhaps, you know Perret as the chef pâtissier at The Ritz Paris. There are many ways in which you may know François Perret, and if you do not, then I highly encourage you to read further.
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François Perret gained his passion for pâtisserie at a young age from his grandmother. His father came from a large family, so his grandmother spent much of her time cooking in the kitchen. Quickly, Perret came to realize that when the main course arrived, his family simply ate, but when the dessert arrived, they didn’t just eat; they admired and marveled. Desserts, and particularly pâtisserie, are seen as both fascinating and mysterious, and it wasn’t long before he was diving headfirst into the world of gastronomy. At the age of 16 Perret began working at a pastry shop, and since then, his career has taken him to the most luxurious and impressive of locations.
The pastry master studied at the prestigious Parisian maisons and worked in the esteemed kitchens of Le Meurice, Le George V, L’Hotel Lancaster, and the Shangri-La Paris. In 2016, Perret joined the team at The Ritz and became the chef pâtissier. In the world of gastronomy, The Ritz is a temple, and to work there as a chef is a title of great accomplishment.
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Fast forward to 2023, and François Perret has many further achievements to his name, such as publishing the book Instants Sucrés au Ritz Paris in 2019, and signing a deal with Netflix in 2020 for a six-episode series.
“The Chef in a Truck” followed François Perret to California, where he swapped the kitchen at The Ritz Paris for the back of a food truck in Los Angeles. Perret used his culinary expertise to revisit and add French flair to traditional American cakes and treats. The show also featured interviews with other famous chefs including Dominique Ansel, Pierre Gagnaire, Pierre Hermé, and Niki Nakayama – they all agreed that the goal of creating patisseries is universal, whether in France, America, or elsewhere in the world – and that goal is to please.
Back in Paris, François Perret is particularly acclaimed for his madeleines which are served at The Ritz. The simplicity of the great madeleine is known and loved all over the world. Ever since the 17th century, both monarchs and peasants alike have enjoyed this small sponge cake, which was entrenched into French culture by the French author Proust in the early 1920s.
Within the world of patisseries, the scope of creation is infinite. One can reinterpret and reinvent pre-existing patisseries in countless ways, and that is how cakes and sweet treats have continued to please people for centuries.
As a result, it’s the madeleine that takes center stage for Valentine’s Day. Forget roses and chocolates. These delicate treats channel “la vie en rose,” colored pink and filled with a soft raspberry confit. They’re sold in a box of five (30 euros) to say: je t’aime, un peu, beaucoup, passionnément, à la folie. Or treat yourself to just one scrumptious madeleine (5 euros). Last but not least: Perret has also reimagined his iconic Entremets madeleine, a trompe-l’œil pastry creation concocted with raspberry, Savoie biscuit and toasted almonds (16 euros). Available until 18 February 2023.
What’s more, the madeleine will play a key role in the Easter menu at The Ritz Comptoir. François Perret has produced an egg-septional array of delights inspired by the season. The showstopper of his creations is the “Mad-Chicken” – a large madeleine mounted on orange legs, decorated with a yellow beak and topped with a proud red aigrette. The madeleine is coated in a double chocolate casing which surrounds an almond praline and a crunchy crumble. It is a mouth-watering pastry that is sure to bring smiles to those both old and young alike.
For a true pâtissier such as Perret, to create the perfect cake is not to create a cake that makes the chef himself happy, but rather to create a cake that makes the maximum amount of people happy. The Mad-Chicken does just that.
Continuing on your madeleine hunt you will find the ‘Mad-Egg’, a madeleine the size of a goose egg encased in almond praline and 72% dark chocolate.
It is also possible to buy a box of five madeleines; choose either the box of Easter madeleines or the box of praline madeleines. This is the perfect gift to take away as a reminder of Paris’s exceptional culinary landscape.
The box of easter madeleines contains five milk chocolate madeleines with melting hazelnut centers. The box of praline madeleines contains two dark chocolate madeleines with almond praline, two milk chocolate madeleines with hazelnut praline, and one white chocolate madeleine filled with coconut. The white chocolate and coconut madeleine was soft and delicate and provided a flavorful contrast to the mousse-like richness of the dark chocolate madeleines.
To sample the fine Easter treats of François Perret, head to The Ritz Comptoir at 38 Rue Cambon between the 15th of March and the 23rd of April 2023.
Opened in 2021, The Ritz Comptoir is a contemporary gourmet shop that symbolizes the unity between the excellence of French pastry and the opulence of the Ritz Paris. The exterior of this venue, with its decorative brass façade, continues the splendor of the hotel, and the interior is light, bright, and pristine, reflecting the chef’s flawless pastries. Though the prices are still considerate, it is a money-saving alternative to staying at the hotel itself and allows you to immerse yourself in the world of luxury gourmandize for a fraction of the price.
Lead photo credit : François Perret - Ritz Paris ©Cecile Gabriel
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