The solidity of French pastry and its authority over the whole world is clearly explained by figures like the master Jean-François Deguignet, Le Cordon Bleu Paris Institute Technical Director – Pastry, and instructor. His task is no other but passing on that savoir-faire in which the trade is founded on and which he had already discovered at his own home at an early age. But he does not stop there. Deguignet steps further on in creative terms and adds, to the necessary rigor, ‘an open-minded attitude and the desire to constantly achieve excellence’.
When, how and why did you decide to go into the world of pastry?
Pastry is an integral part of my family history; know-how that has been passed down from one generation to the next. I grew up in a sweet and gourmet world, with pastry chef grandparents and parents, and my first experience in the profession was working alongside them at the age of 17.
Could you briefly explain your career path?
I became passionate about this profession from a very early age. My parents enabled me to embark upon my career by teaching me to master the foundations of the trade, as well as the thoroughness essential for success, in the family pastry shop, Les Muscadettes.
Having obtained a ‘Certificat d’Aptitude Professionnelle’ (CAP) in pastry and a ‘Brevet de Maîtrise’ (Pastry Diploma), I left the family business in which I had gained solid experience and began working as a chef at the InterContinental hotel, in Paris, in 1983. In 1999, I joined Le Cordon Bleu team of chef instructors, to teach French savoir-faire to students in Paris and, for a certain time, in Seoul.
What is your job at Le Cordon Bleu Institute?
I am Le Cordon Bleu Paris Institute Technical Director – Pastry, and Pastry Chef Instructor and strive to transmit French pastry art techniques.
My job is, above all, a source of innovation and new ideas. The learning process is continuous thanks to the daily interaction that takes place between Le Cordon Bleu Chefs and students. The variety of different backgrounds and talents enable me to introduce new flavours, textures and colours, to create an evolution of techniques and styles towards the pastry of the future.
What are the principal qualities a person should have to embark upon a career in the world of pastry?
The principal qualities of a good pastry chef are rigour, open-mindedness and the desire to constantly achieve excellence.
Why is French pastry considered to be the best in the world?
In my opinion, classic French pastry techniques make all the difference. The international gastronomy scene favours outstanding taste and aestheticism; this is what the whole world seeks to emulate. This excellence does, however, also serve local cuisines and chefs, showcasing the ingredients and flavours of different culinary heritages. By training the chefs of the future, Le Cordon Bleu not only supports widening the reach of French Culinary Art but also international culinary heritages.
Where are the trends going? What will the pastry of the future be like?
Product freshness has become crucial in the world of pastry. It is much more frequent nowadays for pastry chefs to be mono-product, in other words to offer less choice on a daily basis, but to make sure there is plenty of availability to meet demand, or even to frequently introduce new creations. This enables more elaborate, top quality, products to be sold.