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Fancy French pastry shops are sprouting all over Paris. In the last few months, top chefs including Jean-François Piège, Christophe Michalak, Cyril Lignac and Alain Ducasse have opened pastry shops, while La Pâtisserie des Rêves gained a new Paris location, ahead of the opening of a London outpost in early February. Meanwhile, Rue du Bac on the Left Bank has become Sweet Alley: two doors down from La Pâtisserie des Rêves is the new Des Gâteaux et du Pain, with its luxury black marble decor, sitting just across from a new Angelina boutique and a stone’s throw from La Grande Épicerie. Multiflavored macarons are clearly not the new game in town. Pastry chefs are coming up with creations that are sparking a following among foodies to rival the Stateside craze for Dominique Ansel’s cronut.
A case in point is Piège’s chou-chou. “It’s like Russian dolls: a puff inside a puff,” the chef said. Parisians are also lining up for Christophe Adam’s newfangled éclairs. On weekends, he sells 2,500 a day, and production is limited, so latecomers risk leaving empty-handed.
“In times of crisis, people indulge with sweets,” offered Michalak. He joined forces with Adam eight years ago to create Les Sucrés, or “The Sweet Ones,” a conclave reuniting the crème de la crème of pastry chefs every quarter in different locations. “We’re just a bunch of friends gathering to make cakes and have fun,” Michalak said. Mostly in their 40s, the chefs grew up together professionally (Adam, Michalak and Des Gâteaux et du Pain’s Claire Damon worked at Fauchon, the fine-food retailer, as did their pal Ansel).
It doesn’t hurt that some of these purveyors of sweetness are easy on the eye themselves, drawing interest from television and fashion alike: Gontran Cherrier, the baker from Montmartre who is expanding rapidly in Asia, has signed up for the second season of his daily weekday show “La meilleure boulangerie de France,” or “France’s Best Bakery,” on French TV channel M6. Michalak also has a big slice of airtime on public channel France 2, with two programs — including “Qui sera le prochain grand pâtissier?” or “Who Will Be the Next Top Pastry Chef?” — and was chosen by French label IKKS to front its winter campaign.
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