My first week working at Fauchon, Paris
Wednesday, October 17, 2012

After taking a very long break from working, I’m finally back in a professional kitchen! I started my 3-month internship on October 1st at Fauchon, Paris. I recently blogged about my visit to their annual éclair event back in September. Though it was a bit hard in the first week to adjust to my 5:30am alarm clock, my first two weeks have been quite enjoyable.

Being in a high-production kitchen is a complete change from working in the restaurant. For starters, the quantities I make are drastically different. Instead of measuring out grams of ingredients, I am now accustomed to measuring out kilos of everything. Just yesterday, I made 50kg of vanilla ganache and 50kg of milk chocolate ganache. It might be a very simple recipe but carrying kilos of cream and chopping kilos of chocolate is not so easy.

The upside of working in a high-production kitchen is that I get ample practice at doing a variety of things. This stage will be a good opportunity for me to acquire good technique and speed at the same time. Right now, I feel quite slow working next to everyone else. But everyone has been patient, helpful and generally positive.

I visited the Fauchon boutique over the weekend to take some pictures of what we make for the shop at Madeleine. Everything you see is assembled every morning in our kitchen. A team goes in at 4am to start preparing for that day’s delivery. My team arrives at 7am to help finish the decorations. When everything for the boutique is completed (usually by 9:30am), we start working on the mise-en-place (sponge cake, bases, fillings, creams..etc.) for the next day or the week’s pastries.

Here’s an example of the eclair towers that we make. It’s usually our chef or chef de partie who makes the towers. It’s pretty neat to watch them assemble one in our kitchen. The structure is basically a styrofoam cone painted with royal icing. We stick toothpicks in the cone to hold the eclairs. So far, I’ve seen 2-3 of these towers assembled in our kitchen.

Carré Sablé Framboise. This tart is available all year round. It’s a buttery, crumbly cookie base with some vanilla pastry cream, raspberry compote, fresh raspberries and pistachios for decoration.

Here’s the larger version. An interesting technique I learned was how to create the little shiny dots of sugar on the raspberries. I thought someone had painstakingly dotted each raspberry with glucose drops but it’s actually much more simple! Just take a tub of honey, dip a fork in and whip it around to create strands of honey which settle on the raspberries as tiny droplets.

Carré Citron. A nice basic lemon tart that’s also available all year round. The orange square in the centre is a mango jelly. We make the lemon cream and bake the tart shells separately and then assemble them every morning. The mango jelly is prepared and frozen in a large sheet beforehand. It’s cut into small squares so that they can be easily placed on the lemon cream.

And here are the large versions. After filling the tarts with lemon cream and mango jelly, we freeze it again before we paint a light layer of glaze on.

Carré Fruits Noirs. This is a seasonal tart featuring figs. It’s a tart shell filled with a baked almond cream and blueberries. Then we make a fig and raspberry compote, garnished with some mint, to hold the fresh figs, blueberries and blackberry.

Carré Gianduja Praliné. This is a milk chocolate and hazelnut ganache tart decorated with hazelnuts that have been rolled in white chocolate and gold dust.

The larger version of the Carré Gianduja Praliné.

Millefeuille. This is probably my favourite french pastry of all time. For a basic plain vanilla millefeuille, I think Fauchon does a very good job. It’s nothing fancy but they bake the flaky, buttery pastry to a nice golden colour, caramelize the surface and make a perfect vanilla pastry cream to fill it. It makes my morning when I get the chance to eat the ugly pieces or the ends that we cut off and throw away. It always makes me sad to see them throw away a bucket of misshaped millefeuille pieces.

Caractic. This is quite similar to one of their cakes I tried last year. I wish I could show you what it looks like inside. It’s layers of white chocolate ganache, sponge cake, caramel and vanilla cremeux, all on a crunchy speculoos base. I’ve tasted each component on its own and they’re all good though I don’t know if it’s nice all together.

Here’s the larger version of the Caractic.

Megève. A cake of chocolate mousse and meringue.

The larger Megève.

L’éclat. A milk chocolate and hazelnut cake with orange sanguine compote.

Here’s the larger l’éclat. I have yet to learn how to glaze large cakes. Unfortunately, that job is saved for the more experienced.

Baba au Rhum. And here is my least favourite french pastry. Brioche drowned in a rhum vanilla syrup. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed one of these.

Finally, the éclairs that I’ve already blogged about. Normally, they offer 4-5 different types. Right now there is the saint-honore, caramel, chocolate, paris-brest, and fruits noirs (just ended this week). The éclair fruits noir has been replaced by an éclair guanduja (chocolate hazelnut).

The last item we prepare everyday are these petits fours. It’s basically a mini version of our pastries. However, the shiny purple domes are different. It’s a financier base with a berry complote that’s frozen and dipped into a type of gelatin (melted) that we mix with a bit of silver powder.

4 Comments so far...
  • Trish
    |
    April 23, 2013
    Hi there! I love your blog and how you travel from city to city learning along the way~ Do you mind sharing a little about how you applied for the internship at Fauchon?
  • Felipe
    |
    December 10, 2012
    Hi, i stumbled upon your blog while Google-ing fauchon internships and as a pastry chef in the making i was hoping i could pick your brain vía email. I'm still trying to figure out how to reach you on the blog but since you'll get my email adress from this comment i hope you can find ir in your heart to help me out. I basically want to know how you got the internship (did you arrange it or did a school set it up?) and other generic stuff like where the kitchens are so I can look for a flat etc. thank you so much! Looking forward to hearing from you
  • caitlin
    |
    November 6, 2012
    Everything looks so good, I'm jelous. I was wondering though since your stage is three months, how come you're already back in Vancouver?
  • Mashav
    |
    October 29, 2012
    Hi Emily Glad to read you're all better and back in business. This post is beautiful! Good luck in your new stage!!!