Rising Star Pastry Chef Joel Lahon of Nobu - Miami Beach on StarChefs.com

Joel Lahon

Nobu Miami Beach
1901 Collins Ave
Miami Beach, FL 33139
(305) 695-3232

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Will Blunt: What inspired you to pursue cooking professionally?
Joel Lahon: It’s a part of my culture and it was very natural. I grew up on a small farm in southwestern France with great products, so it runs in my family.

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Pastry Chef Joel Lahon
Nobu | Miami Beach


Joel Lahon grew up in Southwest France, harvesting wheat and corn in the summer, picking wine grapes in the fall, and making jams, pates, and terrines of foie gras with his grandmother for the winter. To no one’s great surprise, after a post graduation trip around Southeast Asia and Europe, he returned to France and enrolled in culinary school at the Bordeaux Academy.

One bakery apprenticeship and culinary degree later, Lahon moved to London to work at L’Escargot, where he quickly moved into the position of pastry chef. In 2000 he knocked at the door of Nobu Londonand never looked back. Lahon traveled to Japan to work in Nobu Tokyo and in 2003 brought his skills and knowledge of Nobu’s Japanese/Peruvian style to the US to become executive pastry chef at Nobu Miami Beach. He has since opened Nobus in Dallas and the Bahamas, but Miami remains his home base.

Lahon combines traditional and innovate techniques as seamlessly as he combines Latin and Asian flavors. Thai red tea, guanabana, tapioca, and kaffir lime are just a few of the ingredients incorporated into his delicate, stunning desserts.

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Interview Cont'd

WB: Where have you worked professionally as a chef?
JL: I’ve worked 8 years at Nobu and before that I worked for Marco Pierre White. Before that I worked at a very traditional pastry shop in France.

WB: Would you recommend culinary school to aspiring cooks?
JL: I went to Bordeaux Academy and got my degree in pastry, which I found very useful. We had one main teacher and I had a very good one. I find, however, that culinary schools here are not on the same page with the restaurants. They have no merit standards. So I recruit from Europe.

WB: Who are some of your mentors?
JL: Oriol Balaguer, Stephane Glacier, Michel Bras, and Pierre Gagnaire.

WB: Have you done any influential stages?
JL: I staged all over in Italy and France – some highly rated places, some not. I get a lot of stagiers from schools and we also get many from other Nobu restaurants.

WB: What question gives you the most insight to a cook when you’re interviewing them for a position in your kitchen?
JL: I like to ask them if they want to be a pastry chef, what their favorite dessert is, and also what book they last read. I look for a combination of passion and skill.

WB: What advice would you offer young chefs just getting started?
JL: Keep quiet and follow. Watch and learn. Soak everything up.

WB: Is there an ingredient that you feel is underappreciated and underutilized?
JL: Fruit is underappreciated and there is so much to explore – from tropical to Asian. There are so many more fruits than people realize.

WB: What are a few of your favorite flavor combinations?
JL: Yuzu and raspberry; apricot and curry; red miso and chocolate milk.

WB: What’s your most indispensable kitchen tool?  Why?
JL: My oven and my ice-cream machine.

WB: What are your favorite cookbooks?
JL: Albert Adria’s first book in ’99 broke a lot of boundaries and introduced new textures.

WB: Where do you like to go for culinary travel?
JL: I love Asia, particularly Japan. It was amazing and it’s another culture close to food. Chefs honor their craft and respect tradition.

WB: What languages do you speak?
JL: French, English, and kitchen Japanese.

WB: What are your favorite restaurants off the beaten path in your city? 
JL: I like to go to this small Peruvian fish restaurant called Pachamamma in Sunny Isles.

WB: What is your philosophy on food and dining?
JL: I like my plate to look happy and reflect my happiness and passion. I love my work.

WB: Who would you most like to cook for you?
JL: I’d like Pierre Gagnaire to cook for me. In terms of experiences, I’d like to make my daughter's wedding cake someday.

WB: If you weren’t a chef what do you think you’d be doing?
JL: I almost became a building engineer to preserve architectural monuments.

WB: What does success mean for you?
JL: My work is my passion, my passion is my success and my success is my family.


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   Published: February 2008