Macarons – the gorgeous gorgeous little things. I’ve been a fan of these delicate yet intensely flavoured, colourful and dainty to behold sweeties for a while now. And actually, come to think of it, they’re not even toooo fattening, relatively speaking (no butter in macarons!). Whenever I was in Paris, I would invariably hand-carry back at least two or three boxes of the precious little biscuits from the better-known patisseries – Ladurée, La Maison du Chocolat and Pierre Hermé. Back home, I would slowly savour them, accompanied by a cup of steaming vanilla-infused black tea, lingering over my favourite flavours – hazelnut, rose and sea-salt caramel.
Although Ladurée and La Maison du Chocolat are already in Hong Kong – the former, about half a year ago (behold the long queues even today) and the latter, for some years now, I’ve been eagerly awaiting for Pierre Hermé to finally make its appearance in Hong Kong. So when I received the invitation to attend its opening event at the end of last month, I excitedly requested for a quick sit-down with the master Monsieur Herme himself.
Heir to four generations of bakery and pastry-making tradition, Pierre Hermé began his career at the age of 14 as an apprentice to legendary pâtissier Gaston Lenôtre. He became a pastry chef at 20, and that marked the beginning of his ascension to the heights of pastry art.
I understand your first boutique was actually in Tokyo, even before the first ones in France (Paris) – how did that come about?
It was really due to just the perfect timing – the president of New Otani Hotel in Tokyo ordered a cake from me for a personal event. He loved it so much that he suggested that I open a temporary boutique in the hotel – which became so successful that it ended up being permanent. Thus, the first Pierre Hermé boutique was born. Our president Richard Ledu also moved to Tokyo and grew the business from then on.
Macarons can be found in many patisseries and bakeries these days – how are yours are different?
When I first started making pastries in 1976, I was inspired to make a macaron that was tastier and more intensely flavoured than any others. I discovered that it all came down to the filling. The filling needs to be the star. I make sure that all my macarons are made with the most premium ingredients, in the most optimal quantity and quality. For example, our olive macaron (huile d’olive & vanille) is made with olive oil, vanilla and actual slices of olives in each macaron. And the chocolate one (infiniment chocolate pérou) is made with pure origin peruvian dark chocolate form the Morropon province in the village of Asprobo, and its sweetness is balanced by the finest sea salt. All my macarons are made by hand, so each one is truly artisanal.
How do you make sure that the macarons and chocolates in your Hong Kong boutique are consistent with the quality and artisan that you’re best known for?
Well, everything is made in our Paris kitchens and air-flown directly to Hong Kong, ensuring that the freshness is optimal. In order to guarantee a consistently high quality product for every item including our macarons, we utilise very specific methods (which I can’t really divulge!) during the journey from Paris to Hong Kong.
You’ve written several books, including Macarons – do you have a particular tip for us at home when it comes to making them?
Macarons shouldn’t be consumed immediately after they’re made – when you’re finished with making the macarons, chill them for at least 24-48 hours before eating them. They reach their optimal tastiness at that stage as the flavours would have properly infused throughout the entire biscuit.
Shop 1019C Level One IFC Mall
8 Finance Street
Central, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2833 5700