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Steve Thiery, Chef Pâtissier Exécutif Pierre Hermé Paris

Steve Thiery is the Chef Pâtissier Exécutif Pierre Hermé Paris. Born in Lorraine, he trained in Nancy with Jean-François Adam, a well-known figure in the world of pastry. As a typical Sagittarius, Steve dreamt of travels. He left for Polynesia, where at the age of 22 he became head pastry chef at the Inter Continental in Tahiti then at The St. Regis Bora Bora. After five years, he returned to France and worked in Cannes for pastry chef and chocolatier Jean-Luc Pelé with whom he made up to 500,000 macaroons a month. Like Little Thumb’s round pebbles, the macaroons led him straight to Ladurée, where he stayed for seven years as head pastry chef abroad. And once again he travelled from France to Switzerland and from Lebanon to Morocco, where he stayed for four years in Casablanca. In Morocco, he refined the art of wedding cakes and even set a record for a wedding of 4,000 people with 3,70 m high cake.

In March 2019 he joined Pierre Herme as the executive chef of the well-known La Mamounia Hotel in Marrakech. He oversees the whole hotel including a shop and the restaurants with up to 60 plated desserts in their menus. The 5 years as the head of pastry at La Mamounia helped him to develop a close relationship with the master himself : Pierre Hermé. Together they created original cakes made with local ingredients and inspired by local pastries like the ‘Gazelle Horn’ or the ‘Mhencha’. After 10 years in Morocco, his passion for travelling caught him up and 9 months ago he moved to Riyadh. Once more Pierre Hermé trusted him with one of his big projects abroad: the opening of the 1st Pierre Hermé store in Saudia at The Four Seasons hotel in Riyadh. Steve was up to the challenge: adapting to the local taste and ways as well as working in English with international teams.

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?

My  passion for pastry started very early and I began studying it at the age of 13. In the small town where I grew up in the East of France, there was a pastry shop with a talented chef and he used to have very beautiful chocolate display. Each time I was passing by with my mom, I was just amazed and as I was not very happy at school, I decided to learn how to do it myself. So during the next Easter holidays I started training in this shop and I started studying pastry the following September. As I started really young, I spent 4 years in this shop as an apprentice.

What is the philosophy and ethos behind the food you create?
I have a classic French pastry background but I traveled all around the world so I had the chance to discover very different flavors and textures. With every pastry that I create I try to be the most balanced in flavors and the most diverse in textures so that I can induce emotion within the guest.
What’s the latest trend when it comes to baking and patisserie?What is one food (pastry) trend you wish would just go away?
The last few years, the main trend in fine pastry is to have cakes with praliné inside that creates a runny effect.  It is at the same time, really great in term of texture as it is a mix of crunchy and melted but it requires a lot of technique as it can melt the whole cake. But when you taste a fantastic creation as the Pierre Hermé pistachio tart, it is just unbelievable. The last years have seen another trend, that is, according to me, meaningless: the mix of 2 products in 1 like the crookie (croissant and cookie) or brookies (brownie and cookie).  I don’t see any interest in terms of taste, or texture. And technically, it is impossible to achieve a perfect bakery product, as the 2 products have different timings.
What is your baking style and the philosophy behind it?
My philosophy is to select the best ingredients and work to exalt them in my pastry creations. I spend a lot of time with the suppliers to try to understand the products and taste new ones. When I was in Marrakech, I used to walk with Pierre Hermé in the streets of the Medina looking for local flavors in order to create new pastries.
What’s your favourite comfort food? What’s your favourite pastry or cake or baked product ?
I had the chance to travel a lot and live in different countries, but despite all the great dishes that I discovered, my favourite comfort food is the bolognese spaghetti that my mom used to cook when I was kid. I’m a (sweet) food lover, I can try up to 4 different pastry shops in one day when I’m travelling, and the pastry that I always crave is the Flan pâtissier. It’s a very traditional French pastry, that you can find in each and every shop. It’s made of a shortbread base with a custard cream on the top. It’s a very simple pastry but so difficult to achieve. It reminds me of my childhood, it is, no doubt, another comfort food.
Who or what was your inspiration to become a pastry chef?
When I was young, I watched a few television shows about Pierre Hermé, and since then I was really impressed and inspired by him. So, 20 years later, when I had the opportunity to start working with him I couldn’t refuse. It’s been 6 years now, and I’m still so thrilled to work closely with him and still learn from him. He is definitely the best pastry chef worldwide.
What is your advice to aspiring pastry chefs?
Pastry is an art, it’s not something that you can rush so you need a lot of patience and consistency. Nowadays, the young generation learns through Instagram and thinks that everything has the speed of reels. Unfortunately that is not how a real pastry laboratory works.
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 don’t know if I’m an artist but I love art, and I love what I can create with chocolate, sugar, ice .. Last year I started sculpting ice and I participated to the French championship in chocolate sculpture. But I also like drawing or making legos, I love anything that is manual. I love meeting and working with designers, painters… but I also like discovering any manual worker. From the shoe maker to the glass blower, I’m always impressed by the technique and the passion behind those jobs. That’s where I find inspiration that helps me create great pastries.
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’m in Saudi since last November so I’m still in the process of identifying local producers. Pierre Hermé has a very strict policy in terms of sourcing ingredients, but when we can find locally a good option we can always consider them. Today, I’m trying to create new recipes with typical Saudi ingredients (dates, camel milk…) and for that I will obviously go local.

What would you say is the key/winning feature of your creations ?
For me it’s definitely the taste, that’s what I’m always looking for in any of my creations or when I’m trying the pastries of another chef. Pastry is all about emotions, you don’t eat pastry to feed your body, you eat it to feed your soul.
What are the most important considerations when crafting your menu?
When I decide the range of products that I will display I have to consider different criteria:
– local tastes
– various shapes/ flavors/ colors
– seasonal products
 According to these factors I can propose a menu that I think can please everyone.
Have you ever considered being a vegan chef? How practical is it being a pastry chef?
No, being a 100% vegan chef is not one of my goals. I like the choice of creation that using all the products allows you.
Being vegan is adding a constraint to your creations, I often do vegan pastries when asked by clients and it’s not always easy. You need to source good vegan ingredients: vegetal milks, vegetal fat …  and the hard part is in fact managing to recreate the same texture or taste as the regular pastries. You need to find a new balance between the ingredients as the chemical reaction will be different.
What’s your signature dish?
My signature dish is the Plaisir sucré, it’s a milk chocolate and hazelnut pastry. I love the taste and the texture of this cake, and I love using it as a base of my wedding cakes.
How can restaurants/ hotels/ chefs communicate the approach of innovative sustainable plant-based food/ food chains to others?
Nowadays the best way to communicate is thought social networks, it’s the best way to introduce and educate people to innovative sustainable plant-based food. If you can add a master class it will be a great way to help people discover the food and go beyond the stereotypes.
Which is the dish you’ve created that you are most proud of and why?
For the pastry championship, moreover the chocolate sculpture, I had to create a pastry around the chocolate.
The creation process was long as I wanted something very innovative in the taste or the shape. I had the chance to be advised by some great chefs from around the world. And at the end I created at was according to me a great dessert that was the best of the competition. It was what we call a ‘gourmandise raisonnée’, meaning a pastry where we used a minimum amount of fat, as the sugar is already something that we lowered in our creations. And as the same time, thanks to 3D printing I created a special mold, where I shaped my chocolate cake directly.

 

 

 

TARTE INFINIMENT VANILLE

Sugar dough

  • 300 g croissant butter 82 % fat “Elle et Vire, French butter”
  • 60 g almond powder
  • 190 g icing sugar
  • 0,5 g homemade vanilla powder
  • 120 g fresh or pasteurized whole eggs
  • 2 g de Guérande fleur de sel
  • 500 g wheat flour T55 (Viron)

Weight total: 1.172 kg

In the mixer bowl with paddle, to mix the butter to be soft then add the mix of powder 1 by 1 ( almond powder, icing sugar, vanilla powder ,eggs and sea salt). When you add the wheat flour, mix slowly to get a dought homogeneous. To cling film and range the paton of the dought in the chiller.

Vanilla ganache

  • 500 g Ivory chocolate 35 % cocoa (Valrhona)
  • 450 g liquid cream (35 % fat) “President or Elle et Vire”
  • 8 g vanilla pods Mexique, split and scraped
  • 8 g vanilla pods Madagascar, split and scraped
  • 8 g vanilla pods Tahiti, split and scraped
  • 8 g vanilla extract Planifolia (Authentic Products)
  • 2 g vanilla powder homemade

 

Weight total: 492 g

Melt the ivory chocolate in the microwave or in a bain marie. To boil the cream, add the vanilla pods and leave to infuse covered for at least 30 minutes. Remove the pods and boil the cream with the vanilla extract and powder. Pour the cream three times on the ivory chocolate melting and mix. Mix to obtain a homogeneous ganache. Remove in stainless steel bowl with cling film on contact and let cool in the refrigerator

Biscuit cuillère

  • 720 g fresh or pasteurized white egg
  • 10 g white eggs powder Gallia (Louis François)
  • 450 g white sugar
  • 400 g fresh or pasteurized egg yolk
  • 40 g Trimoline
  • 20 g sorbitol liquid (Louis François)
  • 250 g wheat flour T55 (Viron)
  • 250 g potato starch

Poids total: 2.140 kg

Sift together the wheat flour and potato starch. Mix the yolks with the Trimoline and sorbitol. In the bowl of the whisker, whip the whites with the sugar until firm; pour the yolks into the whites and let them mix gently for a few more seconds. Using a maryse, stir in the flour and potato starch, gently lifting the mixture. Use it immediately.

Vanilla anglaise cream

  • 500 g liquid cream (35 % fat) “President or Elle et Vire”
  • 4 g vanilla pods Mexique, split and scraped
  • 4 g vanilla pods Madagascar, split and scraped
  • 4 g vanilla pods Tahiti, split and scraped
  • 100 g fresh or pasteurized egg yolk
  • 125 g white sugar
  • 56 g gelatin mass

Poids total: 793 g

Boil the cream with the vanilla pods and leave to infuse for 30 minutes covered before passing this infusion to the strainer. Mix the yolks with the sugar; bring the infused cream to a boil, pour it over the yolks and sugar, whisk and put back in the pan before cooking like a custard at 85°C. Add the melted gelatin mass and mix. Remove in a stainless-steel bowl with cling film on contact and cool as quickly as possible. Refrigerate for 12 hours before use.

Vanilla mascarpone cream

  • 750 g vanilla anglaise cream
  • 500 g mascarpone (Galbani 41 to 48 % fat)

Poids total: 1.250 kg

In the bowl of the kitchen Aid with the whisk, work the mascarpone to make it homogeneous. Add the vanilla anglaise cream and let it whip. Use it immediately.

Vanilla syrup

  • 1 kg mineral water
  • 4 g vanilla pods Mexique, split and scraped
  • 4 g vanilla pods Madagascar, split and scraped
  • 4 g vanilla pods Tahiti, split and scraped
  • 20 g vanilla extract Planifolia (Authentic Products)
  • 500 g white sugar

Poids total: 1.582 kg

Bring water, vanilla pods, white sugar to a boil and leave to infuse for at least 30 minutes. Add vanilla extract. Store in an airtight box in the refrigerator.

N.B.: Vanilla pods can be left in syrup

Vanilla mirror glaze

  • 2 kg Ivory chocolate 35 % cocoa (Valrhona)
  • 450 g white sugar
  • 20 g pectine NH (Louis François)
  • 1,1 kg mineral water
  • 800 g liquid cream (35 % fat) “President or Elle et Vire”
  • 8 g vanilla pods Madagascar, split and scraped
  • 45 g glucose syrup

Poids total: 4.423 kg

Melt the ivory chocolate in the microwave or in a bain-marie. Mix the sugar with the pectin NH. Bring cream, water, glucose syrup and vanilla pods to a boil. Remove the pods and add the sugar/pectin mixture. Boil, pour three times on the melted cover and mix like a ganache. Mix to obtain a homogeneous mirror. Use immediately or store in an airtight box in the refrigerator. Use it at 40 degrees Celsius.

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