To be at the forefront of the pastry station of an entire Four Seasons hotel in such an emblematic place as Sant Joan de Cap Ferrat, next to Nice, it is necessary to be able to stand out in several aspects. For example, being a complete professional and enjoying a well-crafted personality, as demonstrated by Florent Margaillan on his last visit to Barcelona. There, he displayed a patisserie that is in love with the product and has a special fondness for red berries. But above all, he exhibited a contemporary pastry that is committed to flavor and not only aesthetics, and which works the formulation to respond meaningfully to the concerns of today’s consumer. at so good #24 we could enjoy his philosophy through two of his most emblematic creations.
Less sweetness, more lightness and everything you need to turn each dessert into a gourmet show. We see this in his large-format cakes, with the Napoleon millefeuille at the top, a cake that has given him international fame and is in high demand, which shows that patisserie continues to be a unique vehicle when it comes to sharing. But also in other products such as the tartlet version of the Black Forest cake, in which we appreciate a good command of the textures and an interesting adaptation of this universal classic.
Florent Margaillan, although relatively young, has developed an intense career that has led him to large hotels in Paris and Morocco. He has also shared responsibility at the three-star Lasserre, alongside one of its main influences, Claire Heitzler. Also, no less important is his time spent in the competition arena, with the victory in 2010 of the French Dessert Championship, and with the stumbling block of the MOF pâtissier that he could not make his own. All in all, he sees in these, and other confectionery contests, the opportunity to experience “an accelerator of learning”, which he has later been able to put into magnificent practice, not only at the head of the aforementioned Four Season in Nice, but also in numerous books, courses and seminars.
The creations must be recognizable, and the flavors must be the same. Our job is to make them more contemporary
In short, Florent Margaillan preaches a return to the essence, to a ‘hyper gourmand’ patisserie, in which it is important to preserve one’s identity, maintain the appearance and taste of the great classics, which simply have to be made ‘more contemporary’ , he explains, with less sweetness and more digestible.
What did victory in the Championnat de France du Dessert mean to you? florent margaillan
It motivates you to improve yourself, to go a little further each day, contests are accelerators of learning.
What are the key experiences in your career that have defined you professionally?
My first home was the Four Seasons George V in Paris. There, I learned the basics of the trade. The three years at the Lasserre in Paris, alongside Claire Heitzler, helped me to immerse myself in his attachment to taste and to work with the highest demands. And the three years I spent in Morocco, at the Royal Mansour, have also been very rich both professionally and personally. I discovered another culture, new products, and a very rich gastronomy with a different approach.
I like the pastry to not be excessively sweet, that you find sharp flavors. I also like discovering different textures.
Tell us about the assortment of pastries that you usually make. What types of cakes and desserts do you usually make? How would you define them?
I like all types of pastry; I get involved in a cake the same way I do in a gastronomic restaurant dessert. I insist, a lot, to my team that the most important thing is the flavor, and then the visual comes second. I like the pastry to not be excessively sweet, that you find sharp flavors. I also like discovering different textures. I am inclined to use fruit and nuts and, in general, I like my pastry to be light, but very gourmand.
We are surprised by your commitment to large formats, such as Napoleon millefeuille. Is there really a demand for this type of giant cake? In what context do you see that it makes the most sense?
Yes, they are in demand! We are in a very visual era of patisserie, but today we are also living a kind of return to the basics, towards products simply hyper-gourmand, that we feel like biting. We serve this Napoleon cake on birthdays or anniversaries, for example, they are especially appreciated in moments to share with friends or family.
Tradition versus modernity: How do you manage the great pastry classics? How do you give it your own personal touch?
I think that first of all, we have to preserve our own identity. So the creations are recognizable, and the flavors need to be the same. Our job is to make them more contemporary, that is, less sweet and more digestible.
But I think we should go even further, and not only think about a specific result or fashion. We must find a way to make our pastries, the products we use, their origins, and how these pastries are consumed.
Are you considering any type of product that responds to the growing concern for a healthy diet, or to avoid certain ingredients (gluten, animal products)?
There are many recipes in which we can replace flour with corn or potato starch, without changing the flavor or the texture. There are many possibilities to provide a solution to any intolerances.
Right now, we are contemplating a true enthusiasm towards a healthier, vegan pastry, and I think that it is a good thing, because it forces us to work in a different way. But I think we should go even further, and not only think about a specific result or fashion. We must find a way to make our pastries, the products we use, their origins, and how these pastries are consumed. It is important to create a patisserie that remains gourmand and tasty, but one that is also rational and respectful of the planet.