Germain Decreton, Head Pastry Chef at Le Jules Verne, has had a passion for sweet gastronomy from an early age. He soon embarked on vocational training at the Lycée Hôtelier du Touquet before joining Le Pré Catelan, the famous three-star restaurant in Paris. After 5 years of training in the rigors and excellence of pastry-making, he joined the Eiffel Tower as head pastry chef, working alongside his mentor chef Frédéric Anton. The restaurant was awarded it’s first Michelin star in 2020. Over the years, his patisserie has become increasingly recognized, and he has won several awards, including the Passion Dessert prize, awarded to the best pastry chefs of the year.
What inspired you to become a pastry chef? You’ve been in the industry for quite some time. Would you have done anything differently when first starting out?
I have always loved the idea of bringing happiness to people. I found this craft fascinating and the idea of being able to create new things everyday is something that I have liked from the beginning. Looking back, I don’t think I would have done things differently for my career. I think that everything that has happened to me is the result of a lot of hard work and, above all, a passion that is still intact.
What is the philosophy and ethos behind the food you create?
I put a lot of emphasis on the human side of the pastry-making profession, and all our desserts are created as a team. What’s important to me in this is to demonstrate that together we can always achieve a more accomplished result in our creations. And the satisfaction is collective when we see that our customers enjoy a new dessert.
What’s the latest trend when it comes to baking and patisserie? What is one food (pastry) trend you wish would just go away?
For me, it’s important to be open to any new trends that may emerge in our profession. But if there’s one trend I’d like to see a little less of, it’s that of trying to create a buzz with recipes that make no sense. I’m committed to respecting the products we work with, and that also means we should all be committed to not doing just anything with them simply to make a name for ourselves. In the long run, this leads to nothing positive.
What is your baking style and the philosophy behind it?
My pastry-making style is very refined and assertive. It’s as much about taste as it is about visuals, because I’m committed to bringing out the best in every product we use, so that it’s recognizable to everyone. My credo is to create surprise when discovering our desserts, but never to destabilize the customer. The pleasure of discovery must always be paramount.
What’s your favourite comfort food? What’s your favourite pastry or cake or baked product ?
I have to admit that I’m as much a fan of sweet dishes as I am of savory ones, and I can’t finish a meal without dessert. However, the diversity of cuisine fascinates me, and I have a real penchant for Italian gastronomy, and nothing comforts me better than a plate of pasta carbonara and a nice slice of tiramisu for dessert.
Who or what was your inspiration to become a pastry chef?
I think I was inspired by many things, and I remember spending time in the kitchen with my mother and grandmother, making cakes throughout my childhood. I also remember my growing admiration for the chefs I discovered as I was growing up, such as Pierre Hermé, a person who knew how to innovate while respecting tradition, and he is also a role model for entrepreneurs in our profession.
What is your advice to aspiring pastry chefs?
Always be motivated and make teamwork a daily strength! Work in such a way that the desire is always there, keep your goals in mind while being keen to learn and, above all, don’t see difficulties as obstacles, but rather as challenges that will help you progress.
Quite simply, to continue bringing happiness to people! Wherever I go, that remains my primary motivation.
Would you consider yourself as an artist? Are you inspired by artists when you create your pastries? When you create different products everyday where do you get inspired from?
I see myself more as a craftsman, since our first vocation as pastry chefs is to satisfy a primary need, that of nourishment. However, there’s a creative and artistic side to craftsmanship that’s unique to each and every one of us. In the end, it’s not my name that’s important, it’s my creations and the joy they bring. I have a keen eye for everything around me. But I draw a lot of my inspiration from nature and what it offers us on a daily basis, because I believe that it is nature that ultimately offers us the most beautiful works of art.
The topic of local food, from smaller, specialized and personally known producers, is becoming more important. What are some of your local partners from whom you source?
I attach great importance to working with producers who share my philosophy, such as Patrick Cholet, who supplies us with honey of rare quality. We share a passion for good products, respecting nature and what it has to offer. A sincere friendship has grown up between us, and that plays a big part in my eyes too.
What would you say is the key/winning feature of your creations ?
I think consistency is one of the fundamental characteristics of my creations. It’s this desire to ensure that my desserts are understood by our customers so that they can enjoy them afterwards.
What are the most important considerations when crafting your menu?
It’s very important to me that the desserts represent the continuity of the menu we offer here at Le Jules Verne. Our customers come to us for a unique experience, and dessert is the final touch.
Have you ever considered being a vegan chef? How practical is it being a pastry chef?
Veganism has become very popular in recent years, and it’s important for us to be able to offer alternatives to all our desserts to meet this demand. And this allows us to enrich and broaden our knowledge in a global way.
What’s your signature dish?
Our chocolate dessert is our signature dessert, a hot soufflé served with a roasted cocoa bean praliné and accompanied by a crunchy tuile containing a cocoa mucilage ice cream.
How can restaurants/ hotels/ chefs communicate the approach of innovative sustainable plant-based food/ food chains to others?
There’s a real importance to communicating our approach, and it’s obvious that social networks help us to highlight not only our suppliers, but also the innovations that are arriving in gastronomy in general. It’s our role to inform consumers about what we believe to be the future of gastronomy.
How did the pandemic affect your work?
The pandemic was a turning point in our industry. It has considerably altered our employees expectations. We’re now paying more attention to the well-being of our teams, and I think that’s a positive thing. It’s up to us to always make the best of such situations.
Which is the dish you’ve created that you are most proud of and why?
Looking back, I don’t think I’m more proud of any particular dessert, but my real pride is in having an exceptional team at my side, who help me to excel and inspire me every day to continue creating and showcasing French pastry.