‘It is hard to believe that we opened the Chicago Chocolate Academy 10 years ago! I am so happy with the success we’ve had’. So satisfied is Jerome Landrieu after a decade transmitting the values of haute pâtisserie in America. A period in which he has witnessed a paradigm shift regarding the interest that this profession arouses in society, ‘Pastry has been taken to a new level,’ he says. We talk to the chef Landrieu about training, social networks, creativity… and he presents us with three exclusive snacking creations for so good..magazine, ‘it is approachable, travels well, attractive, playful and can be extremely tasty. With snacking the presentation excites me as well – colors and textures that mimic the flavors – packaging that entices the client. I had a lot of fun with these snacking recipes.’
Tell us about your current activity. What are you doing? Can you describe the situation of the Chocolate Academy at the moment?
It is hard to believe that we opened the Chicago Chocolate Academy 10 years ago! I am so happy with the success we’ve had. We are going to celebrate this milestone in September with a special week all about chocolate. Stay tuned for announcements on that. With communication changing in what seems like an instant people have so much information at their fingertips – we do our best to be proactive on new trends and, in fact, set trends. We are passionate about Chocolate and are always learning new techniques and technology knowledge we love passing onto our students. We bring in top chefs from around the globe to share their different specialties as well. Hands on courses are and always will be at our core.
Courses, seminars, congress, schools, a crowd of consultants around the world… Is there a ‘bubble’ in the education in pastry?
It is more than a bubble, it is an explosion. Pastry has become exciting and an attractive career choice; as opposed to a ‘plan B’ for students who didn’t excel in a normal core curriculum. Pastry is trendy and food enthusiasts are demanding excellent products pushing top pastry chefs to explore new ideas. Pastry has been taken to a new level.
What do you find nowadays most fascinating in your daily work? And the least?
Let’s start with the least fascinating – I don’t like email. My desk where I handle my corporate correspondence faces the Chocolate Academy and when I have to sit at my desk KNOWING that I could be creating something brilliant in our state of the art kitchen… I am not going to lie, it is a little painful.
The most fascinating: helping people take their own skills to the next level. I love learning from my students. Sometimes I am challenged to find a new way of explaining a technique or recipe because a student is having trouble mastering a skill – a lot of times this is how I discover something new myself. I love reinventing and devising new textures, flavors and end products. You can never have too many tools in your collection.
What are your sources of inspiration to create new recipes and pieces?
New recipes and pieces are always created with an end goal of a tasty product in mind. Always. I want to wow people with taste, the goal is to create a flavor experience that is unforgettable. I am also inspired by what is going on in my personal life. I just completed a half ironman and nutrition came into play in a major way in my training. I was able to create some of my own delicious recipes to help me harness my athletic energy to enhance my performance. It was incredible to merge two passions of mine together.
“New recipes and pieces are always created with an end goal of a tasty product in mind. Always. I am also inspired by what is going on in my personal life”
What are the most surprising words that someone ever said about your creations?
I won’t say I was surprised necessarily because my end goal is to create something delicious and as close to perfect as possible. A few people have said ‘this is the best thing I have ever had’ when eating my creations. I have a hard time pinpointing the best thing I have ever tasted so I found this statement bold – flattering, of course! But bold.
What do you think about the increasing role of social networks in the pastry profession? Sometimes it looks like some pastry chefs are participating in a race to show a lot of creations in the less time possible. Do you agree?
Social media is huge. It is huge in basically every aspect of our life. I like it though! For years and years, we did not have a venue to display our talent as pastry chefs, now we can through social media. Of course, consumers have to be careful – just because something looks extravagant does not mean the taste will match up. I feel it is important to also discuss the origin of ingredients and the actual recipe and technique on social media. While a photo can catch our attention, you must look further.
“I feel it is important to also discuss the origin of ingredients and the actual recipe and technique on social media. While a photo can catch our attention, you must look further”
Tell us about the creations you present in So good.. magazine. What is the idea?
This one is all about snacking. It is approachable, travels well, attractive, playful and can be extremely tasty. With snacking the presentation excites me as well – colors and textures that mimic the flavors – packaging that entices the client. I had a lot of fun with these snacking recipes.
You will also find these three recipes in so good #19