An interview with Quentin Lechat
Meet the head pastry chef of Le Royal Monceau - Raffles Paris
Quentin Lechat is as renowned for his talents, especially after winning the Grand Prix de la Pâtisserie de Paris in 2019, as for the elegant simplicity of his craft, bringing a breath of fresh air and freedom to the Parisian gastronomic scene.
Find out more about this young chef, a generous talent with an open mind and an atypical professional journey.
Tell us about how you became a pastry chef.
I came to the world of gastronomy a little by accident. I got a literary baccalaureate and followed that with two years of law and political science in Lyon. During my second year, one of my friends left for Brazil. When I asked him how it was going, he said right away that in the Erasmus (EU student exchange programme) and international community in which he lived, people were constantly asking him to cook for them. Personally, I hadn't realised the aura that French gastronomy has around the world, and I thought to myself that it would be cool to have a career that would allow me to travel and, perhaps one day, to open my own business.
Then I did some research and ended up pursuing pastry-making because it has a reputation of being more disciplined, more rigorous. I needed that, even though my guilty pleasures lean much more towards savouries than sweets. And from the day I put on a chef jacket and an apron and started to work, it became a passion. So, even though I arrived in this world a little due to chance, I'm still here today due to my passion.
And has your fondness for travel brought you inspiration?
Yes, I have travelled a lot. For me, travelling doesn't necessarily mean going very far. Discovering the gastronomy of Lyon or Marseille – those are voyages as well. Inspiration is everywhere. It’s simply a matter of curiosity.
For example, I have on the menu a dessert called the Lou Pizadou, which I discovered during a stay in Ardèche. It was summer, and the temperature was like 40°C (104°F). After a good meal, one of my friends there came by with this cake that had a sweet crust and an almond cream, a chestnut cream and a nut-meringue layer. I asked him, ‘What do you expect us to do with this? It’s super hot, and we can’t possibly eat something like that!’ But out of curiosity I had a taste and, as it turned out, I fell in love. I’ve since reinterpreted it and have integrated it into our menu.
Books, social networks, TV shows, conversations... A person should be like a sponge, be open to everything. That’s where inspiration comes from.
How do you strengthen the relationship between your pastry team and the guests of Le Royal Monceau - Raffles Paris?
Our crew has a penchant for meeting guests in person. Coming up, we're having a Tea Time where guests are served directly by the pastry chefs on our team. Doing so will allow us to embody the new direction that the pâtisserie at Le Royal Monceau - Raffles Paris is taking.
It is equally important for a pastry chef to get feedback – to know whether a particular twist is appreciated, for the opportunity to chat with guests and to gain a better understanding of their thoughts. For example, by explaining why we bring out the bitterness of chocolate or some other intention, the pastry chefs themselves have a better understanding of their biases towards choosing certain ingredients or techniques.That leads to greater mastery of a recipe.
What are your upcoming projects?
I talked about Tea Time, which is coming up. Then there are, of course, all the holidays: Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, and let’s not forget Epiphany, which is my pet peeve... And certainly plenty of other projects that haven’t entered my mind yet, and this is, without a doubt, also most exciting.
Epiphany is my pet peeve because I hate making galettes (king cakes). I don’t know why... I have some kind of blockage about this cake. The nice thing is that I obviously don’t work alone. And I have people on my team who are very qualified and this year have come up with a galette that's fantastic!!
If you would like to taste Quentin Lechat’s irresistible creations for yourself, head to Il Carpaccio and Matsuhisa restaurants at Le Royal Monceau - Raffles Paris. Or try your hand at making some of his signature desserts by using our recipes.
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