Can you feel it in the air? Now that dreaded January is out of the way our thoughts have turned to springtime, booking holidays and Valentine’s Day. If you haven’t given a thought as to what to buy your other half, bestie or maybe even yourself, don’t fret; #TeamCoco have got your back.One of our favourite Valentine’s gifts this year is the gorgeous macaron box from Pierre Hermé Paris, the 4th most influential French person in the World according to Vanity Fair. We caught up with him to talk passion, trends, anime and, of course, the city of love itself, Paris!.. .
HOC: Hello Pierre, so great to meet you – we remember stomping around Paris in the rain looking for your shop on Rue Bonaparte before you opened in London. We can believe you are the World’s Best Pastry Chef! Can you tell us a little about what’s hot in pastry this year, what should we be looking out for?
PM: To be very honest, I’m not concerned about trends – I have never looked for them or followed them, I let only my inspirations guide me and I listen only to my own creative instinct. My only concern is taste! I find myself often asking myself the question, “is it good enough?”, does it taste good? Am I satisfied with what I’ve created? These are important questions that I can think about for seconds, weeks or sometimes years!
At Pierre Hermé Paris, our mission is to offer connoisseurs a unique experience in taste, sensations and pleasure. This year we have a lot of surprises in store – from the “Les Jardins” 2017 collection with some exceptional and rare ingredients and techniques, to the Easter collection, focusing on two artistic tributes and exceptional Grands Crus Pure Origin chocolates, to the latest “Fetish Macaron” launching in boutique for the first time at the end of April…
So, what to look out for: the selection of top-notch ingredients, attention to detail, creativity and innovation!
HOC: Sounds incredible, we can’t wait! In addition to how great everything tastes, we love how everything looks. Could you tell us about how the current collaboration with Nicolas Buffe came about?
PM: I met Nicolas Buffe at an exhibition, he is an exceptional artist. We launched the collaboration in February 2016 and it will end with the Valentine’s Day collection for 2017. It has been a truly unprecedented collaboration for the Maison Pierre Hermé Paris, with a story, various activations and creations being revealed across different markets and across the year. We gave Nicolas free reign and it led to the creation of a unique universe – a saga calling on ancestral myths, manga culture, as well as Renaissance and Baroque art. You can have a glimpse of it via the exclusive interactive adventure we released last October on www.pierrehermenicolasbuffe.com. (Editor’s note: we recommend checking it out, it’s stunning!)
Although unprecedented in terms of scope, this type of collaboration is part of a tradition at Pierre Hermé Paris and is part of the brand DNA. Having my work dialogue with those of other artists is extremely important to me and a very interesting way to work. Whether it be with painters, sculptors, musicians, perfume designers, architects or other…what motivates me in the first place and most importantly is the desire to create ideas with people working in different areas, different crafts, different universes. Every month, my business partner, Charles, and I invite several artists for a breakfast or lunch. It is a very unique experience, as we meet with people whose work is of particular interest to us, it is always full of surprises and creates a lot of good energy.
HOC: This idea of dialogue is really intriguing. How did this play out for this collaboration?
PM: In this type of collaboration, an exchange is always established and there is a mutual learning, it is a truly enriching way to work.
For example, the story created by Nicolas is inspired by the Pierre Hermé Paris universe, the robot Athanor 3 has a sweet tooth and is fanatical about macarons, the Fairground Gardens are inspired by the Parc Monceau, my favourite park in Paris and just a stone’s throw away from my Atelier de Création and if you look carefully in the drawings there are many references to macarons, cakes and other gourmandises!
Working with Nicolas or with other artists gives me another point of view, another vision on my work and can always inspire new ideas.
HOC: The artwork is so romantic, manga-esque and steampunk; we love it. We love that the story is romantic but not soppy, more a Ghibli fairytale! How was the story created?
PM: The style is Nicolas – he belongs to a generation that has been influenced by Japanese culture, references further enriched through his studies with classics from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. When we started to work together, each time we met, we came up with more and more ideas.
The idea of the Interactive Adventure online came quite naturally from his style and our desire to create something innovative, a new way of communicating and interacting with our clients. It was very well received and was awarded with three awards: a Silver EPICA Awards – Digital, a “Site of the Day” Awwwards and an Emerald Cristal – Digital.
HOC: Let’s get back to your art, your treats! If someone has never tried one, what would you recommend and why?
PM: It’s a difficult choice! In our boutiques, there are four signature flavours: Mogador – milk chocolate and passion fruit, one of the most iconic flavour associations, Infiniment Rose, Infiniment Caramel and Infiniment Chocolat Paineiras. For a newcomer, this might be the best place to start!
The other macarons change according to the seasons and some only last for a limited time only – like the Jardin de Lima (lucuma & candied ginger) – currently in the boutique in London and part of the 2017 “Les Jardins” collection – not to be missed!
Once the choice has been made, it is important that the macarons are tasted at room temperature – not eaten straight from the fridge. I mostly drink water or tea with macarons and it is important to take a generous bite in order to fully experience the different elements and architecture of taste.
HOC: A great tip! Finally, as our readers love to travel; where should they eat when they visit Paris this year?
PM: In Paris, one of my favourite restaurants remains Le Baratin, a small bistro in the 20th arrondissement where the owner and self-taught chef Raquel Carena uses remarkable ingredients. It is a place with real soul, offering hearty cuisine and an excellent choice of local wines. Other favourites include Akrame’s restaurant for a dose of pure creativity or Pierre Sang on Gambey, perfectly orchestrated with Korean influences.
With that we wrapped up our inspiring chat with M. Pierre Hermé and headed straight to his boutique and we recommend you do the same!
For Saint Valentine’s Day 2017, the Maison Pierre Hermé Paris presents Cupidon – Hélios’ faithful companion on a beautiful box of 18 macarons. £42 from Pierre Hermé Paris boutiques in London (Covent Garden, Belgravia) or the concession in Oxford Street Selfridges.