Matfer Bourgeat is delighted to feature Jean-François Fays, the esteemed French Executive Chef for Le Parfait Paris, in this month’s Chef Spotlight. A native of Southern France, Jean-François worked at the refined Aix En Provence Hotel and relocated to San Diego just over one year ago. He is about to open the Le Parfait Paris Patisserie in San Diego. He spoke about Matfer, pastry and this month’s special dessert the MilleFeuille à la Framboise or the newly coined Millefeuille Odette named in honor of his grandmother who inspired him to pursue his passion for pastry as a career.
Q: Did you always want to be a pastry chef?
A: I always found making pastry and sweets interesting from cakes to MilleFeuilles to petit-fours and macaroons. My grandmother made a lot of pastry so I watched and learned from her.
Q: Why do you like making this MilleFeuille dessert?
A: I love the precision and delicacy of puff pastry. I don’t cut corners. I do everything by hand. I love being able to layer the sheets with pastry cream and various fruits and purees that can create different tastes at each layer.
Q: What is it about the Matfer products that make a difference to the outcome of your different pastry specialties?
A: In pastry, precision is vital. You must invest in your pastry tools to create and guarantee your best work and a precise outcome. I have found the Matfer products are very durable and never let me down. I have used their products since the beginning of my career. I don’t like to use anything else. Each item does specifically what it is meant to do and does it very well.
Q: What are your favorite Matfer must-have tools?
A: Besides the baking mat, I love their big oven mitts. For preparation, I really like their mixing bowl and tilting stand, the funnel for fruit puree and their pastry bags and tips. For this dessert, I used Tip # 8.
Q: What do you think of the Matfer Non-Stick Baking Mat?
A: Puff pastry is very delicate and especially when making MilleFeuille. Using the mat, I am very pleased that each and every time I make it the baked version of sheet upon sheet comes out perfectly smooth with no bumps or ridges. This is very important when I am adding and spreading the pastry cream later. During the baking, the heat disperses itself very evenly so the result is a beautiful golden color.
Q: What is your favorite dessert to prepare?
A: There are two I really like to do. The first dessert I learned to make is Gateau St Honore thanks to my grandmother. It was her favorite and her specialty. The other one is a MilleFeuille. I love making puff pastry, working with the choux pastry and piping in the pastry cream filling. I use the Matfer bag & tips all of the time!
Q: You added a seasonal summer touch to this MilleFeuille with fresh raspberries but also the beautiful pink fondant and the raspberry jell in the pate choux. What made you think of that?
A: I love the element of surprise when you do a layered dessert like this MilleFeuille. So I thought “hiding” the raspberries in between the layers of puff pastry with the pastry cream will taste good and then adding a plank of pate choux filled with raspberry jelly to the layers would complement the fresh fruit. All of these flavors are perfect for a summer dessert.
Q: And your favorite dessert to eat?
A: Any tart or cake with pralines.
Q: What do you consider the ultimate classic dessert?
A: The MilleFeuille! But I like anything with puff pastry. I even make my tarts with puff pastry.
Q: The cookery book author Eugene Briffault said, “To create a fine dessert, one has to combine the skills of a confectioner, a decorator, a painter, an architect, an ice-cream manufacturer, a sculptor, and a florist.” Do you agree?
A: Yes! There is a lot of precision and sculpting with fine desserts and they need to look pretty and taste good to make them a success too.
Q: You are opening Le Parfait Paris Patisserie and Bistro in September in San Diego which is very exciting! What will make your establishment different?
A: I don’t know about different. I just know that my personal philosophy and way of working will be on display every day with every pastry, macaroon, petit four, cake and MilleFeuille I make.
Every item and ingredient will be authentically French from the Normandie butter, to the organic flour and fruits, chocolate and creams. We will make everything daily and in small quantities so quality never suffers. When we run out that day of an item we run out until the next day!!
Many thanks to Chef Jean François Fays and CEO Guillaume Ryon from Le Parfait Paris, San Diego for sharing an inspirational afternoon with us.