December 01, 2021 8 min read
Ever since I was a young boy in Savoie, France I wanted to be a pastry chef. My grandma Yvonne was a big influence for this dream and made a lot of pastry when we were young — gateaux de savoie and chocolate truffle were her specialty. I would steal her desserts and go hide in the forest to eat them with my sister. It was our secret hiding place. I'm very close to my grandfather, sister, and my mom as well. Growing up if I wasn't stealing desserts, I was spending time with my grandpa in his garden. That's part of where I learned to appreciate good food. One morning my grandpa woke me up at 3 am to drink the crème anglaise my grandmother had made that day. We sat there and drank it through a straw in the middle of the night. The next morning my grandma wanted to kill us.
My Mom inspired me a lot too growing up. To me, she is the strongest person in the world. My parents divorced when I was just 5 years old and as a result my sister and I both went to live with her. My mom taught me never to give up, to always look for a solution. I cooked a lot with her when I was young. When I was 12 my mom opened a creperie and I would help her cook. I made a deal with the restaurant cook. I would wash the dishes if he would teach me pastry. My mom, sister and I moved around France until I was 14 years old, which is when I started my professional pastry career.
I have 3 degrees in pastry: BEP (Brevet d’Etudes Professionnelles), Mentioncomplementaire, and BTM (Brevet des métiers). I did my apprenticeship at Mr. Chanvillard, a patisserie in Savoie. After completing my BTM, I decided to move to Paris to learn from the best. I worked for 1 year at the Maison — one of the best bakeries in Paris. After that I worked in Kaspia Reception, a luxury catering company doing R&D. I was able to work a lot of famous events and work with famous chefs including Marc Veyrra, Yannick Alleno, Pierre Gagnaire, Alain Passard, and a few more.
After 2 years at Kaspia, I got my first Pastry Chef position. I was the Pastry Chef at L'ambroise, a 3-Michelin Star restaurant ranked the 6th best restaurant in the world. The owner is Bernard Pacaud who has been a 3-Michelin star chef now for 33 years. It was very stressful, and I was young for the position — only 23 years old. At the time I was the youngest 3-Michelin Star Pastry Chef in France. It was hard, but I learned so much from Mr. Pacaud. We were never allowed to use the freezer, no gelatin, no pectin. Everything had to be fresh, and fruit based. It was a completely different vision of what pastry could be at the time.
After 1 year at L'ambroise, I went to Lutetia Palace in Paris as a sous chef for the grand opening. But I only stayed for a few months. My life needed a change, so I moved to New York City with my best friend, Davis. I didn't speak English when we first arrived. I was the Executive Pastry Chef at Mille Feuilles bakery. It was a very good place to start my career in the US. To help me learn English I would teach pastry classes every week, which is how I met my future wife. After 1 year in New York, Davis returned to Paris where we opened Felicite Paris in the 18th Arrondissement. At the same time, I had the opportunity to join Chef Claude LeTohic at One65. Chef Claude is a Muilleur Ouvrier de France and. James Beard Award winner. One65 is an innovative multi-level culinary destination with French flair that offers four distinct modern dining experiences under one roof. The dining experiences range from casual to fine dining. Each floor showcases its own individual concept and design. Everything here is made in-house, and we just earned our first Michelin star this year. I feel very lucky to work with Chef Claude. He pushes everyone to be better.
The next step will be to prepare for the Catering World Cup in 2022 with Pascal. Chef Claude will be our coach. We're hoping to work on earning a second Michelin Star.
Q1: You’ve worked in France, as well as the United States. How would you describe the differences between working in these two countries? Do you prefer working in one over the other? Was it hard to transition working in the US (aside from not knowing the language)?
A: There is some difference between the France and the United States. It’s not the same mentality, and in US we worked with a lot different nationalities. In my first experience it was little bit tough for me because I had the French mentality and I spoke too harshly to the people at first, but I learned and it got better.
The location doesn’t really matter to me. Whether I work in France or in United States, the most important it’s to have a great team to work with. In One 65 we’re lucky to have the team we do, it’s amazing.
Q2: What do you think, in your opinion, separates a 1-Star Michelin Restaurant from a 3-Star Michelin Restaurant? What is one unforgettable dining or chef experience you can share with us?
A: There is a little bit of everything: the service, the technique in a plate, the food. One of the best restaurant where I ate in was Guy Savoy in Paris. it’s the best restaurant where I ever ate. The experience was amazing because everything came together perfectly. The presentation of the food was so creative. When they bring it to the table, they used dry ice, so when the tray is opened it created fog at the table. So it was a sensory experience. Then when you ate it, the food was delicious. The service starting at the maître d' was all part of an elevated experience.
Q3: Could you tell us more about the Catering World Cup? What have you done so far to prepare?
A:I will prepare for the catering 2023 World Cup with Pascal Kamin and Chef Claude. Chef Claude will be the coach of the team. We were preparing to go this year, but with the pandemic we were not able to. Since the catering World Cup is every 2 years at the Sirha in Lyon we will wait until January 2023 to go. Hopefully by then the pandemic will be a thing of the past.
So far, we haven't done much training. We are eager to get the next subject. While we wait, we are researching a lot about the techniques and flavors that previous champions used. Especially Singapore, who won this year. We are thinking about creating an Instagram account for people who want to follow along as we train, but other than that we haven't started much, it's all going to kick off once the subject of the competition is released.
Q4: The restaurant you are currently at, One65, is described as very unique and innovative, “offering a multi-level culinary experience”. Can you tell us more about the restaurant a bit and describe how has it been working alongside chef Claude Le Tohic?
A:Each floor is a different style of dining. The first floor is a patisserie, the second floor is the kitchen, third is the French bistro, the fourth floor has a bar, and the fifth floor is the O by Claude Le Tohic, which just earned it's first Michelin Star this year.
I manage all the pastry for the building. Each floor has it's own style of food, but we make sure that the experience is cohesive throughout the building. Working with Claude Le Tohic has been an incredible opportunity. He is constantly pushing us to be better, and we have really built a strong connection as a team, which makes all the difference.
The team of pastry chefs that we have (Caryn, Audre, Melodie, Marina, Leen, Billy, and Bernardo) all make it exciting to go to work in the morning. Which says a lot about them, because I hate waking up early in general. The last two years have been really challenging with opening the restaurant and then the pandemic coming shortly after that, but I feel very lucky to work with Chef Claude and that team during this time.
Q5-1: Do you cook a lot for yourself when you aren't at work?
A: I don't really cook too much at home. I'm lucky to have a pretty, and good cook at home, my girlfriend. She's a very good cook, especially since she isn't even French! She makes most of the dinners when she gets off work, then I take care of cleaning up the kitchen. We are a good team.
Q5-2: What would you consider the most difficult part about earning a Michelin Star?
A: I think the most difficult thing is to create something new. Naturally, every year this gets harder as more chefs get creative. There is so much creativity out there now, you really have to figure out how to stand out in the crowd and make a difference for the guest.
Q5-3: What is your favorite dish you've ever eaten or prepared?
A: One of the best pastry I've ever eaten is the banana cake from Eunji Lee, she was the Pastry Chef at Jungsik, a 2 Michelin Star Restaurant in New York, it was an incredible dessert. It looked like a banana, it had banana cream, vanilla cookies, so many incredible flavors. They bring you a basket with different fruits, and you pick the banana from the basket. It's a complete experience.
If you're interested in learning more about chef Clement Goyffon and seeing the incredible and delicious creations he's creating for One65, follow him along on Instagram at @clement_goyffon
If this is your first time joining us for a Q&A as a reader thank you so much for taking the time to read the chef's story.
We love to use our featured chef series to introduce our wonderful audience with some of the amazing and talented chefs who choose Clement Design every day.
We wanted to thank Chef Clement Goyffon for chatting with us while we prepared this feature, and his girlfriend for handling some of the translating for us. If you are ever out in San Francisco please consider visiting this beautiful restaurant, where you're sure to find something of interest to you. Check out @one65sf @chefclaudeletohic and @obyclaudeletohic to explore some of the other levels of this beautiful palce.
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