Nothing led to thinking that Patrice Demers was to become one of the best pastry chefs in Canada. Desserts never even caught his eye. At 19, he decided to quit University to then enroll in a cooking school, having such ‘bad luck’ as to not find placement in the professional cooking program, forced to pursue pastry. But the real turning point occurs when he buys the book, Plaisirs Sucrés, by Pierre Hermé: ‘it made me realize that pastry can also be exciting and creative’, admits the chef.
Demers has worked for 15 years in some of the best restaurants in Montreal, at the head of the desserts station, has helped open several restaurants and was co-owner of Les Chèvres where he finished honing his style. Also, he has written three books and for five years has been hosting his own pastry program on Lifestyle Network.
Finally, he opened Patrice Patissier, without having previously worked in any pastry shop, and driven by passion and its own challenge. It is a unique setting in which the three great gastronomic pleasures coexist: good food, good wine and good desserts. A superb setting for the good work of a professional to whom success and media impact have not taken him away from the essence of the trade, ‘I’m lucky that the shop is two corners away from a farmer’s market. I’m there every day.’
Talking about Patrice Patissier. Pastry, food, wines, school…in the same place?
After 15 years in the restaurant business, I was ready for a new challenge. I decided to open with two good friends and my wife a pastry shop even if I never worked in any… We decided to combine our passion for desserts, good food and great wine in the same place. People can stop at any time to grab a dessert or take a coffee and a pastry in our 30 seats space. We serve savory food at lunch time with a few plated desserts. Two nights a week, I also give pastry courses in our class room. Marie-Josée Beaudoin, my wife and business partner also gives wine class a few times every month.
Is Patrice Patissier your professional dream? What would you like to do in the future?
For me, it’s a major step in my career. People can now come to experience my work outside the wall of a restaurant. It’s sometimes a real challenge to adapt my work to the reality of a pastry shop but it’s really exciting. Everyday we’re testing new recipes and trying to push our limits.
You won’t find intricate chocolate or sugar work on my desserts. We put all our time and energy on working with fresh fruits and keeping our menu super seasonal
What do you want with your creations? How would you describe what you do?
As a child, I didn’t really liked desserts. It’s only when I started to cook that I discovered my passion for pastry. Even now, I’m not a fan of super sweet desserts, I love to work with seasonal fruits. I’m lucky that the shop is 2 corners away from a farmer’s market. I’m there every day, getting fruits and vegetables for the shop. For the take-out pastries, we take great care to find balance in flavors, sugar and acidity. I’m a fan of really clean design. You won’t find intricate chocolate or sugar work on my desserts. We put all our time and energy on working with fresh fruits and keeping our menu super seasonal.
What do you find most fascinating in your job?
I love to meet people who are as passionate as me about food. It can be a coffee roaster (like Café St-Henri that we serve and use in our desserts), a fruits producer (like M. Legault and his amazing strawberries and blackberries) or a tea importer like Camellia Sinensis. These people really inspire me in my work.
Let’s talk about the patisserie of the future. Where do trends head for in the coming years?
As a pastry chef, we won’t have the choice to adapt our work and recipes if we want people to continue enjoying our desserts. Customers know more about food that they used to; they want to know where their food comes. More and more people have food allergies: gluten, nuts, dairy…
We’ll see more and more concepts like Michalak Masterclass where desserts are almost made in order to insure optimal quality. I hope the days of pastry shops with a selection of more than 75 desserts (where everything is frozen) are over. I want to see more and more shops with fewer selections but chefs taking great care of what they do, serving seasonal pastries, using fresh fruits and not only frozen purées…
I hope the days of pastry shops with a selection of more than 75 desserts (where everything is frozen) are over. I want to see more and more shops with fewer selection
What is your opinion about the evolution of pastry making in Canada?
Pastry in restaurants has changed a lot for the last 20 years in Canada. We can now find exciting desserts in a lot of restaurants around town. Pastry shop business is just starting to change. Everything used to be really classic, but now more young pastry chefs are opening exciting shops.
Tell us a bit more about the creations you present in so good.. magazine. What is the idea?
I decided to include one plated dessert, one take-out pastry and one cake. The first two were created for the fall season, using amazing Québec apples. The plated dessert idea came from some elderflowers we receive from a forager. I decided to infuse their amazing flavor in apple cider vinegar. I really like some type of acidity in my desserts and I tend to work more and more with vinegars. For this year, I wanted a new version of apple tartelette. Last year we worked with praliné and tonka bean. This year I decided to play on the idea of a really light cheesecake. The financier is a classic of the shop; it’s prepared with amazing maple sugar and buckwheat flour so it’s gluten free.
Enjoy these creations with recipes and step by step images in our 13th volume