On the evening of November the 9th, the boutique was transformed into an exotic garden that brought the flavors of Pierre Hermé’s macaron and chocolates to life.
The most admired flavors of the evening were the macaron “Infiniment Citron Caviar”, macaron “Truffe Blanche et Noisette”, and macaron “Marron Glacé”, three of the Chef’s signature flavors from the end of year collection as well as some of the iconic flavors of Pierre Hermé like “Ispahan”, “Mogador”, and “Satine”.
At TheInsiderPost.com, we were very eager to meet the Picasso of Pastry, as quoted by Vogue, and get to know more about the man himself…Excerpts.
Pierre Hermé, welcome to Qatar and thank you for having us today. Could you give us your impressions on Qatar?
This is my second time in Doha, I was amazed by the architecture and the local hospitality, but speaking of pastry, it’s two distinctive worlds!! I really enjoy Middle-eastern sweets when they have just been baked, almost fresh off the oven. I think that it makes a huge difference in the taste and it’s delicious when it’s freshly made.
Are you inspired by local flavors?
Always, whenever I travel I take time to taste local food or product but I don’t necessarily look out on working them. I loved the dates, the honey…but if I take a local flavor, I won’t use it everywhere.
For example, when I was in Hong Kong 3 years ago, I discovered a tea drink but there is no tea in it. It’s made of dried fruits and flowers and Japanese people drink it after meal. I was very impressed by its taste and then I tried to discover how to do it and we made a macaron out of it that we sale everywhere.
How is the market for high-end desserts here in Qatar?
I think people here like sweets, some of the Qataris are familiar with the brand, others just discovered it with this boutique. For example in Japan, most of our customers are Japanese so I hope Qataris get to enjoy the products as well…I also like the fact that French expats try to find a little bit of France abroad.
Has your journey here exceeded your expectations?
Oh yes of course, because we started from scratch. When we go in a new country, we start from nothing it’s always a work in progress and we try to make it better day by day. We are now in 11 countries with 47 boutiques all around the world. Regarding the logistics, we make the macarons in France and ship them off to the Doha boutique so our clients are eating the exact same products everywhere.
What sets your macarons and your sweets apart from the others?
I think it is the creation process, the desserts, the cakes, the chocolates…
Macaron is the most important part of what we sell, so I work a lot on macaron. I started with macaron as my main product, and I have been working on it for a while now. Next year, I will complete 40 years in this job as a pastry Chef, I started in 1976.
And now we are curious to know more about this specific creation process…
It always starts by an idea triggered by a product, a flavor, a reading or even an image…The inspiration can come from many different places and after that it can take 30 seconds, or weeks and sometimes even months! For instance, I discovered the pepper of blackcurrant bush which is basically some blackcurrant bud milled but as of now I couldn’t figure out a smart way to use its flavor so I put it aside but I am confident that one day I will find some use for it, one way or another, in one of my creations.
In another case, it comes naturally like for the white truffle and nuts macaron as a case in point.
Afterwards, I write down the recipe, sketch the product and with my team we discuss techniques, ingredients, balance…we work on it until we get the final product that we let live a few days so that e can see how it evolves with time. I taste it and then I decide.
The sketching is very important as it helps me set up the size and the proportion of ingredients composing the macaron.
And at last, the name. Sometimes its organic and we all agree on it and other times, with my associate, we play it over a table tennis game, and the winner choses his favorites (laughing). But I have a committed stance regarding the name, it has to be in French as we are a French brand and straight-to-the-point.
Some of your creations have reached the status of masterpiece like L’Ispahan for instance…
Indeed, L’Ispahan (ed: with rose extract) is a product that has created a niche for itself in the culinary landscape. Nowadays, other chefs are doing it and it’s a good thing, I take it as a compliment because it lives on. Also, in department stores you can find other products such as rose flavored yoghurts or syrups and so on…
On a more personal note, what is your favorite pastry?
(Laughing). Well, I would say the quetsche tart that my father used to bake for me when I was a kid (ed: a variety of sweet plum from eastern France). It’s often said that we create from our childhood memories, which is not my case.
My inspirations comes from adulthood experiences, however in our bakery we still do the seasonal quetsche tart so I guess the product stayed along with me…
What’s the next steps for the Pierre Hermé brand here in Qatar?
I have had a great feedback from the people here since I have been in Doha and hopefully we are looking into opening another boutique and also a café, or a salon de thé, in the next few years.
Finally as a tradition in all our interviews, could you give our readers any TIP on making the best macaron or cake?
My tip for the best macarons is to read the books!! (laughing)
On a more serious note, I would really recommend to follow every single step of the recipe, even the ones that seem most difficult, at least two or three times before taking any liberties from the initial recipe.
Beside the pastry techniques, the use of good-quality ingredients is strongly recommended as I have noticed it usually sets the difference between an average to successful result!!
Some pictures of the event at the Lagoona Mall – Pierre Hermé boutique