Sugared & Spiced

pâtissière in paris, now shanghai

[Pastry Diary] Fauchon

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After 5 months of internship at Un Dimanche à Paris, I moved up the kitchen totem pole and became a full-time pâtissier at Fauchon. In its pastry department, Fauchon has been graced with a string of extraoridnary chefs such as Pierre Hermé, Christophe Adam, Christophe Michalak, Sebastien Gaudard, etc. Even Dominique Ansel, who created the famed cronuts that had New Yorkers lining at up 6am in the snow, spent years at Fauchon before moving to the US. You see, this is no ordinary pastry kitchen.

sugared & spiced - fauchon pastry kitchen shapshot

Getting a job here happened rather serendipitously. I happened to see an opening on Fauchon’s website and submitted my CV, but pretty much forgot about it right after. We all know that with big companies like this, sending a CV online can be like dropping a pebble in the ocean – you just don’t expect to hear back. Then one day, as I was dozing off in the late summer sun at Jardin du Luxembourg, I got a call from the head pastry chef at Fauchon, who spoke to me in an ultra rapid French that I could barely comprehend in my half-conscious state (and I were to find out later that even in my fully awake mode, I sometimes have trouble understanding him). Then I went for an interview. Then I did a trial day in the kitchen. Then I was hired. Boom. What?!

sugared & spiced fauchon

But somehow it happened, and I ended up spending six very rewarding months at Fauchon. I was (again) very lucky to be working with chefs and colleagues who are talented and generous in sharing their pastry knowledge. It probably sounds cheesy to say that I feel remarkably fortunate to have met and worked with them, but that is the truth. 

sugared & spiced - fauchon pastry kitchen snapshot

Our main pastry kitchen space, located in Courbevoie (a short distance northwest of Paris city), is composed of two labs. The “grand labo”, or big lab, is responsible for making all the products for our boutique at Madeleine, and smaller lab is in charge of all the items sold to corporate clients. I worked mostly in the small lab, but also spent roughly one day per week to help out at the big lab.

sugared & spiced - fauchon pastry kitchen snapshot

There are about 7 of us in the small lab – the chef, two chef de partie, three commis (me being one of them), one intern, and one person responsible for sorting out dispatch logistics. We work Monday to Friday from 7am to 4pm, though it is not unusual for us to stay until 5pm or after to finish up all the orders that need to be delivered. The products we fabricate for corporate clients can include very small pieces like petits fours, or very large items like pièces montées or wedding cakes. Other than a menu that change seasonally, we also customize special pastries for certain clients, such as Cartier (for their Style and History exhibition at the Grand Palais) and even the Swedish princess when she was visiting Paris. The quantities tend to be big, with orders being in hundreds or thousands of pieces, so I really learned how to work as efficiently as possible and also gained some muscles from carrying heavy weights. Now, some snapshots from the kitchen…

sugared & spiced - fauchon pastry kitchen snapshot

Pièces montées of macarons and éclairs.

sugared & spiced - fauchon pastry kitchen snapshot

Various types of verrines (desserts in glasses).

sugared & spiced - fauchon pastry kitchen snapshot

Piping mini cream puffs by hand, more regular than the machine!

sugared & spiced - fauchon pastry kitchen snapshot

sugared & spiced - fauchon pastry kitchen snapshot

The making of sugar orchids. It’s a lengthy process but the end result is absolutely beautiful.

sugared & spiced - fauchon pastry kitchen snapshot

sugared & spiced - fauchon pastry kitchen snapshot

The making of almond raspberry macarons.

sugared & spiced - fauchon pastry kitchen snapshot

sugared & spiced - fauchon pastry kitchen snapshot

Cupcakes.

sugared & spiced - fauchon pastry kitchen shapshot

Raspberry “bébés” (éclairs).

sugared & spiced - fauchon pastry kitchen shapshot

Fraisiers in progress.

sugared & spiced - fauchon pastry kitchen shapshot

Mini baba.

sugared & spiced - fauchon pastry kitchen shapshot

Colleagues.

sugared & spiced - fauchon pastry kitchen snapshot

Experimenting with some fun liqueurs.

sugared & spiced - fauchon pastry kitchen snapshot

Wedding cake.

sugared & spiced - fauchon pastry kitchen snapshot

sugared & spiced - fauchon pastry kitchen snapshot

And now, a sneak peek of the big lab, where we conjure up all the pastries sold at the Madeleine boutique. There are around 15 people in total, but not everyone is there at the same time. The shift that I did was the Friday night shift, which begins at midnight and ends on Saturday morning, with the finishing time ranging from 6am to 10 am or even later. The hours seemed tough at the beginning, especially given that we all work Friday during the day as well (meaning that we go home to sleep for a few hours before we get up again for work), but I soon fell in love with working at midnight. We had a close team so the ambience was super fun, not to mention that I learned a whole lot during these shifts.

sugared & spiced - fauchon pastry kitchen snapshots

sugared & spiced - fauchon pastry kitchen snapshots

Caractic, a combination of creamy caramel, vanilla ganache montée, and crispy praliné.

sugared & spiced - fauchon pastry kitchen snapshots

Carrément mangue, for mango lovers.

sugared & spiced - fauchon pastry kitchen snapshots

Tarte citron.

sugared & spiced - fauchon pastry kitchen snapshots

sugared & spiced - fauchon pastry kitchen snapshots

Tarte framboise.

sugared & spiced - fauchon pastry kitchen snapshots

sugared & spiced - fauchon pastry kitchen snapshots

Mille feuille.

sugared & spiced - fauchon pastry kitchen snapshots

sugared & spiced - fauchon pastry kitchen snapshots

sugared & spiced - fauchon pastry kitchen snapshots

Éclair Saint-Honoré.

sugared & spiced - fauchon pastry kitchen snapshots

R009773sugared & spiced - fauchon pastry kitchen snapshots0

Éclair religieuse.

sugared & spiced - fauchon pastry kitchen snapshots

sugared & spiced - fauchon pastry kitchen snapshots

Baba au rhum.

R00976sugared & spiced - fauchon pastry kitchen snapshots89

Éclair forêt noire.

sugared & spiced - fauchon pastry kitchen snapshots

sugared & spiced - fauchon pastry kitchen snapshots

Pain au chocolat.

sugared & spiced - fauchon pastry kitchen snapshots

Brioche à tête.

R1073703sugared & spiced - fauchon pastry kitchen snapshots
sugared & spiced - fauchon pastry kitchen snapshots

Croquembouche.

sugared & spiced - fauchon pastry kitchen snapshots

sugared & spiced - fauchon pastry kitchen snapshots

On another note, Christmas (or any holidays, for that matter) is a very stressful time in pastry kitchens. As everyone’s getting ready to leave on vacation, pâtissier are in the lab churning out thousands of Christmas cakes (or galette des rois, or easter chocolate eggs, or valentine’s cake, depending on the season). To give you an idea, we were all in the lab from 7am to 10pm the day before Christmas eve, and that’s already after days of overtime. But anyway, Christmas is also a fun time at the Fauchon lab, here’s proof:

sugared & spiced - fauchon pastry kitchen snapshots

sugared & spiced - fauchon pastry kitchen snapshots

sugared & spiced - fauchon pastry kitchen snapshots

sugared & spiced - fauchon pastry kitchen snapshots

sugared & spiced - fauchon pastry kitchen snapshots

R0099702sugared & spiced - fauchon pastry kitchen snapshots

sugared & spiced - fauchon pastry kitchen snapshots

sugared & spiced - fauchon pastry kitchen snapshots

sugared & spiced - fauchon pastry kitchen snapshots

Looks like a grand time, doesn’t it? Of course, work is not play, and making pastry can be highly repetitive (e.g. piping and decorating 2000 mini choux in a row) and physically intensive (e.g. carrying a 20kg-bag of sugar or making 40+kg of cream). There were definitely times when I wish I could be home sleeping rather than, let’s say, slicing the nth pineapple of the day for making caramelized pineapple cubes. But all in all, I’m so thankful for having had the opportunity to work at Fauchon, where I learned an enormous amount from chefs and colleagues, and gained the skills and confidence for moving on to the next level. As of last week, I have already started working at a different pâtisserie, and should be able to share some fun news with you soon. Stay tuned :)

sugared & spiced - fauchon

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Written by sugarednspiced

April 17th, 2014 at 8:50 pm

Posted in paris

Tagged with , ,