“One day you’ll be my head pastry chef!” said Arnaud Donckele to Guillaume Godin during the stage he had undertaken at restaurant La Vague d’Or as finalist in the Meilleurs apprentis de France (Best Apprentice In France) competition. Arnaud wasn’t wrong; a few seasons later he took Guillaume on as a commis pâtissier, making him chef de partie after just one month, whilst Guillaume was just twenty years old- effectively making him his head pastry chef!
After fourteen years of loyal and devoted service, throughout which a perfect accord had been achieved between the kitchen and the pâtisserie team. The restaurant was awarded three stars in the Michelin Guide and after Guillaume received an accolade of best young pâtissier in France by Gault & Millau in 2018, the young pastry chef began to think about gaining experience in other celebrated restaurants.
In the year 2019, a former member of his team- a chef pâtissier at Restaurant Guy Savoy in Caesar’s Palace Las Vegas- contacted him to let him know that Guy Savoy was looking for a new chef pâtissier in his flagship restaurant in Paris.
Guillaume was enthralled by the prospect, and knew that it was now or never to make that leap into big city life in a fabled Parisian restaurant. He submitted an application, and was accepted. Pastry chef Guillaume soon found that along with taking over the reins as chef pâtissier, he was now to take on a host of other responsibilities in this celebrated restaurant named for the sixth time by La Liste as among the very best in the world.
He was to collaborate closely with the bakers and pâtissiers in Guy Savoy’s other Parisian outposts, overseeing the daily baking of the famous individual brioches that are offered to each guest at Restaurant Guy Savoy, as well as taking charge of training and mentoring the number of stagiaires and apprentices who make Guy Savoy their place of learning. He has found the place he was always meant to end up at, and he hasn’t looked back ever since.
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 ?
It was my grandmother who inspired me to become a pastry chef. It gave me great pleasure to help her bake pastries every Sunday for the family lunch. I enjoyed cooking as much as being with her. We baked typical French desserts together, such as floating islands with pink praline. I’m inspired by everything that surrounds me : nature, smells and art of course. I’m particularly sensitive to painting and photography. Creation is necessarily part of the artistic sensibility, but I’m not an artist.
What is your baking style and the philosophy behind it?
First: respect for products and seasons.
Second : taking care of the different textures of the products (soft, hard, crunchy, jellied, liquid, …) and the different temperatures in a single 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 ?
I’d say the latest trends are :
– Always less sugar in desserts
– A come back to classic desserts (like Paris-Brest, Millefeuille, Eclair) with new arrangements.
What’s your favourite comfort food? What’s your favourite
pastry or cake or baked product ?
My favorite pastry products are fruits, all fruits, and sometimes vegetables too !
What is your advice to aspiring pastry chefs ?
I’d give two pieces of advice :
First, be passionate
Secondly, find a mentor and learn to work like him and as well as him !
Future Plans ?
To contribute to the evolution of pastry and desserts.
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 source my ingredients from small producers all over France.
For example : rhubarb from Picardie, strawberries from Loiret, butter from Normandy, flour from Massif Central.
What would you say is the key/winning feature of your creations ?
I would say that the key feature is to preserve the original taste and natural qualities of the fruit I use in my desserts. For example, I never add extra sugar to a dessert, I simply use the natural sugar of the fruit.
What are the most important considerations when crafting your menu ?
As the dessert is the finishing touch to a meal, the pastry chef must take into account the type of dishes that have been served beforehand; if a lot of dishes have been served, the dessert will be very light, in fact with fruit. If the meat served during the meal was game, a chocolate dessert will be much appreciated.
Have you ever considered being a vegan chef ? How practical is it
being a pastry chef ?
No, I have never considered being a vegan chef.
Which is the dish you’ve created that you are most proud of and why ?
My signature dish is “Open Mille-feuille with Tahitian vanilla”. I’m very proud of this dessert because of its revolutionary presentation ! This “open” presentation surprises the guest and makes him more attentive to the dessert ; it also brings a different sensation when tasting. The waiter adds a little more cream, which has a very vanilla taste ; it’s the finishing touch !
How can restaurants/ hotels/ chefs communicate the approach of
innovative sustainable plant-based food/ food chains to others ?
At Restaurant GUY SAVOY, sustainable development is reflected in our ‘no waste’ rule. When I create a dessert, I use everything that’s in the product, especially fruit. For example, I make chips with the peelings, I use the seeds to make jelly, I use the orange to color a cream, I use the cherry tails for decoration, … Everything is good in a good product !
(for 4 people)
- Preparation time: 15 minutes
- Cooking time: 15 minutes
- 32 Burlat cherries
- 2 eggs
- 25 g almond powder
- 75 g caster sugar
- 30 g cornstarch
- 125 g thick cream
- 125 g fresh whole milk
- 1 vanilla pod
- pine-nuts for the topping
- In a salad bowl, mix the whole eggs and then the caster sugar, almond powder, cornstarch and slit and scraped vanilla pod.
- Add the thick cream and fresh whole milk. Place 8 Burlat cherries in 4 buttered and sugared ramekins.
- Add the clafoutis mix and bake for 15 minutes in an oven preheated to 180°C.
- If desired, you can sprinkle with pine nuts.
- Serve warm.
Recommended wine: Maury Rouge
In the family of natural dessert wines, Maury is certainly one of the sweetest, rich with berry and spice flavours. Its mellowness and balance on the palate are sure to please with their harmony.