Christophe Michalak (Award Winning Pastry Chef) | Exclusive Interview

Christophe Michalak (Award Winning Pastry Chef) | Exclusive Interview


Kirsten, it’s an honour for me to have you here. You are the best pastry chef, the best one to
shine light on patisserie in the famous country, Australia. It is an honour for me to have you here. My Patisserie, how to describe it… 18 years ago when I was a young pastry
chef in a famous hotel in Paris,
The Plaza Athenee. I developed a pastry, inspired by high fashion. The design was very ellaborate and elegant. Everyone complimented my work because it was
very pretty and very modern. Then 7 years ago, when I created my business with my wife. I wanted to cut all ties between what I was
doing before and what I wanted to do. When I opened my shop I developed the cakes exactly from the street. Less fat, less sweet, easy to
package and easy to eat. So totally different from what I was doing before and now a few years later, I want my brand to become an institution. I want my cakes to represent me.
I want you to taste my cakes and you will know who I am. I try to create cakes with true taste that look sexy, very tasty,
with texture.Taste that brings emotion, but all those things
have to be simple, not over complicated. High fashion cakes, I was doing that a
long time ago and it was very complicated. A lot of decoration, I prefer not to do that anymore. I want to create cakes that are more healthier to eat. So we use only organic eggs Natural colouring from vegetables.
On the heart ‘Mon Koeur’ petit gateau, I used
colouring from radishes. So we use un-refined sugar, like muscovado and brown sugar. I want to create simple things, good for the body and health.
This is the pastries that represent me. KIRSTEN: Patisserie is changing very quickly and I think with
social media, Instagram KIRSTEN: it changes and fashions and trends get picked up by
other people fast. What do you see in the future for trends in patisserie Very good question. We need to be careful about this trend… Instagram is very good for photography and pictures.
Instagram and pastries go well together because pastries always look very beautiful in photos. We have to understand the difference between taking a few minutes
to make a cake, or a few hours to create a cake for Instagram. The cake we present for sale in a patisserie It’s what I do on a day to day basis, my real work,
my real life, real patisserie. So we need to be careful about the look of the products that are
created for photos only, that require a lot of time and don’t taste great. We need to be careful about this mirror that is Instagram. Instagram is only focused on the look of the product and the photo. How I see the things I think the pastries of tomorrow will be healthier, for me that is the most important. A patisserie focused on healthier options pastries with less sugar, less fat and less gelatine. Only good ingredients inside. High quality fresh ingredients, for me that is patisserie. In france I used to say, patisserie doesn’t rhyme with pharmacy. Pastries have to be good, tasty and bring you joy. Pastries have to rhyme with emotion and not pharmacy. Reduced sugar, reduced fat and we can take some pleasure. KIRSTEN: You’ve done a lot of television shows.
You’re very successful in everything that you’ve done. KIRSTEN: You’ve done cookbooks, you’ve got really fantastic patisseries. KIRSTEN: What is next for Christophe Michalak? Good question again. I think the next step, to explain for you.
I was dreaming about becoming a pastry chef and I became a
pastry chef in a well established hotel. I dreamed to shine a light on the profession
I did a lot of work on television and books. Later in life I decided to become an entrepreneur,
to be my own boss independently. It’s all done now. We have 40 employees, four patisseries in France and soon three in Japan. I am very proud of all of that alone, independently. What I wish for tomorrow is that my name becomes an instituation. I dream in the future, that my name… I dream in the future, to be a worthy successor to the
masters of my profession Lenotre and Pierre Herme. People who have spent their life shining light on patisserie. To make the pastries sexy and it is thanks to them that
patisserie is so well known. KIRSTEN: For me France is the leader in patisserie KIRSTEN: but there’s lots of Countries coming up in patisserie KIRSTEN: for you, which is the strongest country other than France? For me, France represents pastry the most.
It is part of the culture. Eating sweets like religieuse, mille feuille, saint honore and flan. A lot of cakes well known all around the world. So there is a lot of countries who are up and coming,
Australia is one of these. Of course in the United States of America as well. We are looking at the countries that are close to France, Belgium,
Switzerland, Italy and Spain. The standard is higher and higher,
I tend to say the epitome of patissiere is still France. KIRSTEN: How do you feel about patissiere in Japan? KIRSTEN: Do you think, patissiere in Japan is just KIRSTEN: Pastry Chefs from France in Japan? I have a big theory on that. A lot of the Japanese Pastry chefs were trained in France in the 60’s – 70’s. and developed French pastries with the Japanese standard which is very strict. It is true that from the year 2000 the french pastries
made by Japanese pastry chefs were much better in Tokyo than Paris. In the last few years the French have woken up and since 2010
a new generation has arrived and the standard between Tokyo and Paris is the same, which is fabulous. I like to say there are two capitals of
patesserie in the world now, Paris and Tokyo. KIRSTEN: Do you see any other products becoming fashionable? There was a period with concepts, the new concepts arrived around 2005 At that time, two people were doing a competition. Like when Agassi and Pete Sampras were doing the same in tennis There were two people who were very creative, trying to do things. It is very pretentious to talk about myself but it was Christophe Adam my friend, and myself who
was at the Plaza Athenee. Christophe developed the concept of the eclair. I developed a new concept with the macaron and also another concept, regarding choux pastry in USA.
Which was brought back to paris, the Popelini it was the first concept store around 2005 – 2010 it was the first concept store, in patisserie. Now we have seen a lot of concept stores for example merveilleux,
the merringue The baba, but all of this didn’t surrvive. The concept idea is good, but it is very difficult. Customers want new change, we tried to make concept stores
focusing only on tarts, only icecream, only chocolates it is very
complicated and difficult. KIRSTEN SPEAKING: What do you think about the life of competitions,
patissiere competitions? In my time, if you wanted to get noticed you needed to win a
contest, in my time. Now, with social media you can create a new life and it is true that now, with Instagram you can make people dream. But now I am concerned that big competitions like the
Coupe Du Monde Patisserie (world pastry cup), The World Chocolate Masters and all of these competitions. The new generation does not want to fight and compete in these contests because they can exist through this social media, Instagram and
Facebook. We need to be careful. What is very important for me is to evolve and these competitions are necessary by doing these contests and competing with others forces you to evolve and push yourself. And for me I will always be a defender of these competitions
The World Cup, The Meilleur Ouvrier de France (MOF)
The World Chocolate Masters This is very important. It is very important for the future of patissterie. KIRSTEN: Do you think, social media – Instagram and Facebook
is good for patisserie or is it bad? It is very good, but the current generation of pastry chefs needs to be careful of
existing only on social media because it’s very easy to create a new life just doing nice photography and selfies. Always with good humour, life is not always like that. Life is up and down. The same with cakes. Social media is very good, it is very necassary. It is an application that helps patisserie to make it grow because pastries have become very visual, very beautiful by itself. Be aware you can fail, as I like to say to have a big career, the best athletes were consistent. The famous pastry chefs, they need to have this same capacity to be consistent. With instagram, you can become a star very quickly. but at 30, 40 and 50 what is important is to
always be creative and challenge yourself. I think about some professionals that are not very well known on Instagram. Like Jean-Paul Hevin, who has been here for 40 years. Pierre Herme,
big Pasrty chef. Who challenged themselves everytime, everytime, everytime. Who have not just become stars overnight.
That is what is important, is the duration. KIRSTEN: Do you think there will be an increase in
demand for vegan patisserie? The demand for vegan cakes will increase, but we can not do everything.
70 percent of what I am creating, is without wheat flour. I work with organic eggs and natural colour. I care more and more
about what I am doing. Vegan patisserie is a totally different style. The four fundamentals of the French patisserie are eggs,
butter, flour and sugar. If I remove all of them, there is no more pastries as we know. In the future there will be customers for vegan patisserie but we can not change everything. Even me I don’t eat meat and I care about what I eat. I want to stay making the pastries I like to make. I can sometimes do gluten free pastries. One or two vegan products maybe, but not everything.
We would need a specialist for that. I will say something else. in the 2000’s. Someone went to Sydney and saw an extradinary cake, the Pavlova and me at the time I said WHAT? What is it, Pavlova, he said it’s biscuit merringue souffle with cream and fruit and it is incredible, it’s crazy. A few years later I had the chance to go to Sydney and I was
looking everywhere for the Pavlova! I couldn’t find it. Then I came back to France. I kept remembering what my friend said, merringue souffle with chantilly and fresh fruit. In 2005, 2006 at the Plaza Athenee I developed a pavlova, one metre rectangle pavlova, very big with Lychees,
raspberries and lime. It was a big success everyone loved this cake.
Everyone came to taste the pavlova in 2005 and now everyone is making pavlova and nobody
knows where it came from. We don’t know anymore that the origin of pavlova is
Australia or New Zealand. It’s thanks to a friend who came back from Australia. Who gave me the idea, that I kept in my mind,
I redeveloped the pavlova and It became… French people try to appropriate it, the pavlova saying that it is French
when it actually comes from Australia. It’s important to know this.

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  1. Hey, everybody. Here is a great interview I did while in France. For the English translations. please hit the "cc" button on the YouTube player to view it in english

    Happy Friday!

  2. Wonderful interview Kirsten! What a great insight into Christophe's thoughts on where Patisserie is heading into the future. Thanks for this great content!

  3. Great questions Kirsten. Really enjoyed watching the interview. He's certainly been an inspiration for me. Now… I think I'll go to eat some of his cakes … you've put me in the mood! 🙂

  4. That was a great interview, Kirsten! I applaud him for trying to make pastries as healthy as possible even though "pastry and healthy" don't belong in a sentence. :D. What I would like the future of pastries is to be accessible to more people.

  5. Thank you Kirsten. Great interview. Such a pleasure to listen and understand chef Christophe, especially as he is very much thinking and working on healthier patisserie.

  6. I'm 17 and from the philippines where being a patisserie is very underrated. I dream to compete in the world pastry cup one day. I am taking diploma for baking and pastry arts this july.

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