When we left off on Monday, after tantalizing you with various baked goods and sweet pastries from the downstairs kitchen of Un Dimanche à Paris, I’d taken you upstairs with me to see chef pâtissier Quentin Bailly in a cryptic scene. What could he have been doing? As it turns out, it was the above – tapping liquid chocolate from a conical mold. But why?! We’ll get around this, in time, my friends. But first let’s see the process…
After warming up a ton of chocolate, fending off my repeated attempts to grab it, and ladling it into a pastry bag, Quentin delivered squirt after generous squirt to his forms…
Tapped-out, they were then set aside to firm-up, while he went to work on the rest of the batch…
Then it was time for quality assurance. Was the coat even and complete? Yes? Great. No? Then Quentin would furiously slam the mold against the wall and scream. Just kidding. They were all perfect, and he embodies composure anyway. Well, at least at this stage he did. For you see, this was maybe around 4 or 5 in the afternoon. And as Quentin finished-up with the chocolate cones, I asked if I could come back that evening to get some shots of him in full form at work in the kitchen. He suggested 9:30. Would things be as laid-back then?
No. I arrived promptly at 9:30 – a time Quentin had chosen, thinking the worst of the night’s rush would be past. But as I flicked my camera on and made a few quick adjustments to the manual settings, here’s what I captured …
Within the span of a whole nanosecond, Quentin had managed to slip on his oven mitts, yank a perfectly baked chocolate soufflé from the oven, slide it onto the counter and slam the door shut behind him. And he did all this while still in intense pain from a badly injured leg that had had him in the hospital for the preceding two weeks, on the heels of an unfortunate scooter accident.
His feverish intensity cooled for a few seconds, as he gave a liberal dusting of powdered sugar to the soufflé. He almost looks peaceful. That was the last time I would see that face in the next 45 minutes I spent with him.
For whatever reason, Quentin prefers to work alone. That means an entire restaurant’s fancy plated dessert needs are being serviced by one guy. And then there’s the dessert/chocolate salon on the upper level that’s also creating dessert orders for him to handle. If only the dessert menu were limited, this might seem sane, but it’s fairly extensive and decidedly swanky.
Of course the one time I ate in the restaurant I didn’t even get to order any desserts from it. Everything, from the appetizers to the main course of the meal had been preordained by the chefs, and the three off-menu desserts were trotted out before I could even consider asking for either of the ones below. The cruel irony of being pampered! I clearly need to have a conversation Pierre Cluizel, the owner of Un Dimanche, to see if we might arrange a dessert-only dinner, where I eat everything they have . . . twice.
Here’s Quentin scooping some gelato, while 9 tickets stare at him from the right wall. He has at least five different pieces in some stage of preparation at this very moment – some slated for a warm plate and others for a cool one … stacks of which are just waiting. It’s madness!
Love the quenelle application. The right hand is gently positioning it, while the left is providing micro-adjustments. It must be perfect.
Remember all that chocolate and cake we saw Thomas and Maxime working with in Monday’s post? Well, here it is!
And here are almost 30 more of the same. Everyone loves their chocolate at Un Dimanche à Paris. And that’s because virtually every single thing on the menu features chocolate in one form or another. Seriously.
Ordering salmon, rabbit or some foie gras? Oh, it’s coming with chocolate. Granted, most of the savory dishes on the menu will feature chocolate as nibs or some unsweetened form, but it’s still chocolate. That’s really the whole idea behind Un Dimanche à Paris. Started by chocolate heir Pierre Cluizel in 2010, he was determinded to showcase cacao in all its glory. And he has handily succeeded.
Remember those cones Quentin was working on earlier? Here he is putting on the finishing gold touches…
Lovely, aren’t there?
Winner of the Trophée Pascal Caffet, former right-hand man to Philippe Rigollot (MOF and Champion du Monde) at the three star Sophie Pic, and protégé of yet more acclaimed French culinary figures, Quentin isn’t “just” a chef pâtissier. He’s one of THE chef pâtissiers in France today. In fact, he was recently named as captain of the 2013 World Cup pastry team from France. It doesn’t get much cooler.
He was also only 27 at the time of these photos. So we can rest assured there are decades more sweet brilliance to issue forth from his mind . . . assuming he doesn’t have another scooter mishap.
I hope you enjoyed this “in the kitchen” series at Un Dimanche à Paris. Special thanks to Thomas, Maxime, and Quentin for letting me totally invade their space. Should you feel compelled to enjoy their goodies firsthand, information on Un Dimanche à Paris is below. And of course I’d recommend you do check them out immediately, if only to experience their coquelicot macarons, candied clementines, hot chocolate, Choux Pistache, and dozens of other treats. But you’d better hurry, there’s only another 20 days before I’ll be back in Paris and inhaling it all!
Un Dimanche à Paris
4-6-8, Cour du Commerce Saint-André (map)
Phone: +33 (0)156811818
Boutique Hours: 11AM-8PM from Tuesday to Saturday and 11AM-7PM on Sunday (Closed Mondays)
Follow: Un Dimanche a Paris on Facebook