is your favorite dessert using only four ingredients? Or favorite
dessert created in under 30 minutes?
The Fondant which primarily contains chocolate, cocoa, egg whites
and sugar. The dessert contains a little more than four ingredients
and cooks in less than half an hour. It has a full chocolate flavor
and can work in any kind of oven. It's also a great Sunday dessert.
For working people, what can
be made ahead of time, frozen and ready to heat up when one comes
home from the office? (We know that fresh products are the ultimate
but occasionally we all need to resort to "defrosting").
The Fontaine is always a good one to freeze ahead and pop in the oven.
It's very French. There is less chocolate in the Fontaine than the
Fondant. The raspberries in the Fontaine gives it more acidity and
the phyllo dough gives it more texture. This dessert is filled with
warm/cold, acid/sweet, crunchy/smooth sensations. The Pithivier is
more of a cake than a dessert but can also be made ahead of time and
frozen to heat later. It's great to make if entertaining 6-12 friends
What do you consider
to be the five must have ingredients in your pantry? And why?
For me there are really six ingredients someone must have in the pantry
if he or she wants to make desserts and other pastries. Chocolate
-- because it is just something you have to have -- and fruit -- all
kinds of fruit. You can play around with these two ingredients and
develop anything. Then there is flour, sugar, eggs, and butter. These
four ingredients really form the base of a lot of desserts. For instance
you can make dough, cakes, etc. You can do a lot.
are the three most important kitchen tools in your home kitchen? Does
it differ from your professional kitchen?
I have the same kitchen tools at home as I have at Le Cirque -- a
Kitchen Aid stand-up mixer, oven, commercial blender and electronic
scale. I take my scale everywhere! My oven at Le Cirque is a professional
one and my oven in my New York apartment is a lousy one. I'm putting
a good convection oven in the house I am building in Michigan. When
you have a good oven you can do many things.
tips do you have for home cooks for making splendid desserts?
1) Before you start the recipe, read it through 2-3 times so you understand
the steps and why you are doing them.
2) Be sure to have all the ingredients on hand and the best ingredients
you can afford.
3) Make sure you have all of the equipment the recipe asks for.
4) When you make the recipe remember that you are not a professional
so it will take some time to make the dessert. You have to plan for
this time. This is a commitment. Allow yourself the entire afternoon
to bake so you can do it right.
Pastry is something you plan in advance and have to think about. It's
You are known for being a brilliant
traditionalist. In the years you have inn in America, how has you
classical training adapted to meet the demands of the American kitchen
I believe that Americans today prefer a less sweet and heavy taste.
So I try to cut as much fat and sugar from my recipes and I try keep
them on the light side. In France I usually don't make my pastries
as crazy and funny as I do here. For example, at Le Cirque I make
the clown face, the hat, and the stove. Desserts in France are more
serious. Here I go a little more crazy.
Cirque is known for its glamorous surroundings, exquisite cuisine
and, of course, its unforgettable desserts. Of all the desserts you
have made at Le Cirques, which one has been you favorite? And why?
This is like having six kids and having someone ask which one you
prefer. I like what I do and when I put something on the menu I do
it because I like it. I have to have some hot desserts and some cold
desserts. The menu is not about one dessert. It's about one dessert
with another. I like to have a balance and I try to make my menu harmonious.
Finally, what advice would you
give to any aspiring chef?
Never work in a place where people don't use the best ingredients.
Always work with a good chef, someone who can give you direction,
inspiration and can set an example. You need to work with a leader
-- a person who will teach you how. The restaurant has to use good
ingredients. You can become a good chef if you work in a place that
provides you with excellent ingredients and good equipment. Don't
settle for what you think is not the best place.