The master pastry chefs of Valrhona and Espaisucre, Frédéric Bau and Jordi Butrón, talk about the importance of France in pastry culture. “France continues to be our mother”, remarked the Catalonian; “Although we are a little chauvinist”, we understood the Frenchman to say…
Frédéric Bau, the master pastry chef of Valrhona, and Jordi Butrón, creator of Espaisucre, shared a lecture to juxtapose pastry cultures and demonstrate that “what unites us is flavour and passion”. Although both countries start out with differences. “It felt like that, with the boom of Spanish gastronomy, France felt downcast, and that isn’t true, and less so in pastry. France is our mother, in everything”, explained the person who is in charge of the leading pastry restaurant in the world. “Because it is, because Jordi, a Spaniard, and not a Frenchman, is the creator of the first pastry restaurant in the world. This should be made known”, certified Bau. Complicity and anti-chauvinism.
Both agreed in respect and also in that “coexistence is required between the sweet world and the salty world. Talking with each other, because what cannot be, is that you go to a restaurant you love and that you shy away from the desserts. They are the end of the journey and should follow the same line”, explained the French master. Butrón and the attending audience agreed, also when Bau complained about Instagram: “There are more photos than ever of desserts, but they only serve as aesthetics. There is no dialogue behind it that enrichens. On the contrary, Instagram impoverishes us”, he laments.
Having made the criticism, the cooking came next. Accompanied by Ricard Martínez, head of R+D of the restaurant and school, the Catalonian prepared a dessert of harissa, a creation in which he applies onto the harissa -an Arab paste from the salty world- a combination he learnt alongside Pierre Gagnaire in 1993, a combination of red fruits and red peppers. “An association of ideas and products that surprised me and which I have accompanied here with Ispahan by Pierre Hermé (rose, raspberry and lychees)”, he explained. So that the association of ideas turns into a dessert, Butrón added white chocolate, from Valhrona, of course.
Before handing the cooking over to Bau, he insisted on the creation. “The flavours belong to Gagnaire and Hermé, and this has to be stated. We must know who made what. And this is what we stress at the school”, he remarked. Because, he concluded, “creating something from nothing is very difficult. It’s our duty to keep this memory and remember it. And mention it”.
It was the Frenchman’s turn, who prepared a sweet proposition made with Spanish desserts “that I like the most”. Namely: panellets, nougat from Xixona, tocinillos de cielo (egg yolk pastries), mantecados de Estepa, ensaimada and oranges”. Butrón interrupted: “And he has prepared this dessert because he always says that there are no references of what is ‘Spanish’ in France”. The Frenchman nodded in agreement, and continued constructing his dessert: a ball of almonds upon which he placed a sheet of caramel with aniseed and pine nuts and accompanied by a false tocinillo de cielo -jelly- bathed in a broth of orange juice. A pine nut coca and aniseed in the shape of an ensaimada covered the creations. “This way, in this dessert, I have everything I like about Spain. An interesting combination”.