April 01, 2020 6 min read
Originally from the 11th arrondissement of Paris, Corentin has been a lover of pastry and gourmet foods since he was a child. Raised with traditional and familial French foods, his mother and grandmother gave him his taste for flavorful things. Son of an influential Parisian librarian, Corentin’s father would transmit passion and perseverance to him. As a young child, Corentin would go to the closest bakery every morning to have fresh bread with his father. The smell of the bread and beauty of pastries made him fall in love with the field.
From age 7, Corentin did not stop making pastries. He started with baking cakes at home after school. Recipe after recipe, he eventually began experimenting with different ingredients and just like that, cake creativity became a hobby. Certain his purpose in life was to create pastries, Corentin decided to stop regular French school to learn on the ‘battlefield’. At age 15 Corentin started working at Laurent Duchéne’s Pastry in the 13th arrondissement of Paris. At the same time, he was also going to culinary school, Ferrandi Paris.
After 3 years of apprenticeship, Corentin decided to test his skills at competitions. In his first national chocolate showpiece competition, Corentin ended up winning the Joel Bellouet award. The following year, he wanted more. Corentin decided to sign up for one of the most difficult and famous French competitions; “The Best Apprentice of France” (MAF). Supported by well-known chefs in the field like Jean-Michel Perruchon and Laurent Duchène (both MOF and considered as the best ambassador of French pastry around the world) and by a solid Parisian school, the “Ecole de Boulangerie et de Patisserie” (EBP). 20 applicants from all over France competed for the title and Corentin came out victorious. His buffet dedicated to street art had unanimously convinced the jury due to his originality and technical aspects. He became the only ‘Best Apprentice of France’ in 2016, Corentin made it.
Following the competitions Corentin completed his apprenticeship working in a famous hotel. He expanded his skills working on the 2 Michelin star restaurant Le Meurice alongside Cedric Grolet and Alain Ducasse. Hungry to continue learning, Corentin would spend his free time working with our famous French and international chefs like Amaury Guichon and Yann Couvreur.
Following his apprenticeship, Corentin ended up at a conceptual pastry shop of the 6th arrondissement of Paris where he would be responsible for the creation of pastries and in charge of management and production. Corentin graduated with mark and honor from the highest pastry level course. Alongside his two friends, Cesar Augustyniack and Lucas Donato, the three have been following opportunities to work together at different events by creating custom-made pastries, helping famous chefs with collaborations in Paris, and doing masterclasses in food festivals like “Le Salon du Chocolate”. This friendship has helped each of them grow in their careers, all working towards the same goal: becoming the new young generation of chefs.
His network and reputation have led him to meet a lot of passionate professionals in the industry. Dominique Ansel contacted Corentin in 2018 and proposed for him to create the Research and Development section for his companies. Corentin joined him in NYC in 2019. Together, they designed different concepts like the “New York Collection”, a whole showcase of fresh pastries shaped like iconic items from New York. Corentin also travelled to be an ambassador for the company at several events around the world like a chef collaboration with Yann Couvreur in Paris in April 2019.
Interested in everything related to the food industry, Corentin has discovered a lot in New York City. As someone who exclusively worked in Paris, moving to the United States has made him understand a lot about the industry, and about the world. Currently, he is in the process of moving back to Europe to work for different pastry chefs. He plans to continue working and learning new techniques, new designs, and unique ways to present his own style of pastries. Corentin plans on coming back to the United States shortly and would like to open a shop at a currently confidential location in New York City.
Q1: What would you attribute your success to in the Best Apprentice Pastry Chef 2016? What sort of doors opened for you after you took the title in 2016? Do you plan on competing in any more competitions in the near future?
A: This is a good question, there are a lot a facts and people who made me successful in this challenge. Hard work is the most important but the team you build-up to support you is the best weapon you can have in any competition.
Beyond the personal achievement for any young and passionate apprentice of the field, the MAF (Best Apprentice of France) brings credibility to a young chef as well as self-confidence.
I do think about other competitions and I've been seriously considering participating in the World Chocolate Master in the future.
Q2: When we first met you, you were living in New York working with Dominique Ansel, who do you plan to work with when you move back to Europe? What do you enjoy more – the learning process or implementing what you’ve learned? Who has been one of the single greatest influences in the culinary world, for you?
A: I’m convinced that Paris is the Pastry World Capital. It’s a concentration of talented and passionate people and you feel an energy through perfect showcases and surprising deserts.
I’d like to bring that energy everywhere I go. I do have some plans to work a few days with different teams in Paris. It’s important to keep on learning and sharing at the same time, it’s the essence of pastry.
« Every man I meet is my superior in some way, In that, I learn of him. » R.W Emerson.
A lot of chefs have influenced me at some point, they are people I've worked and am currently working with. The greatest.
Q3: What was one of the first things you learned about creating pastries that surprised you? What’s currently your favorite ingredient to work with?
A: Well, I remember once I was creating a Tart Tatin for a competition. Test after test, the result was not good enough. The Tart came out good after about 20 attempts.
Perseverance is one of the first thing I did learned about creating pastries.
To be honest, I enjoy working with every ingredient. As they are all different, techniques of work, flavors and associations are different as well and makes pastry have no limits.
Recently, I had hard time designing vegan petits gateaux and I’m looking forward to learning more about developing vegan options.
Q4: Could you explain some of the process involved in working with Dominique Ansel to develop the ‘New York Collection’ and some of your process in general when creating new dishes? What were some of your biggest challenges? Had you ever done any sort of development like this before? Do you have a personal favorite from the desserts developed and what’s your process like when you take on such a demanding task?
A:This entire menu was a challenge for me as it was the first menu I would design for American guests. Dominique and I designed some shapes with a 3D printer and made our own molds, we tried a lot of options for each cake before eventually launching this menu. I’m very used to developing new desserts but I never worked the way I did with Dominique.
From the entire menu, my favorite was creating the Greek Coffee Cup.We would basically start from the shape of a real Greek Coffee and try to replicate it as close as possible in a very thin chocolate shell. We would then try different fillings to make the best petit gateau. The last step is to try to improve shelf life so they will last for at least 24 hours.
Q5: Commonly today, we see that many top restaurants are introducing desserts that are a bit unorthodox, using vegetables and making the desserts less sweet. How do you feel about this style? Do you have any guilty pleasures when it comes to food?
A: This is amazing. I’ve never worked with vegetables and would love to if I meet the opportunity. About desserts less sweet, it’s also a big step forward in pastry world and becoming more and more common.
My mother’s cupcakes will always be my favorite thing, I would burn my tongue on it when they leave the oven.
If you're interested in learning more about chef Corentin Poirier-Martinet you can follow him on Instagram @corentin_poirier_martinet to learn more about him and see some of the beautiful work he has developed throughout his career thus far.
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