Chatting with Benoît Charvet: “A good manager is someone who empowers his employees”

For our magazine “Patisserie by FoodinLife”s 67th edition, we did an interview with star chef Benoit Charvet. Let’s get into beloved chef’s impressive career!

Champion du Monde des desserts glacés 2018 / 2018 World Frozen Dessert Champion. He is a pastry chef at 2 Michelin Stars, Paul Bocuse Restaurant. (Passion Dessert) Pastry Chef of Georges Blanc Group since 2015, Benoît Charvet manages a team of 12 confectioners and 4 bakers. He is in charge of the gastronomic restaurant’s sweet creations, brewery, room service menu, breakfast and brunch buffets, pastry shop and bakery, and also banquets and seminars. He revolutionized the desserts of the gastronomic table through his creativity and his design and architectural vision. The subtle combinations of flavors and textures are perfectly mastered. When he turned 19, this aesthete of pastry was already working as a Pastry Chef for Alain Senderens at Lucas Carton, and at 23, he worked as a Pastry Chef at Le Relais Bernard Loiseau during eight years. Leading figure in the pastry world, Benoît was voted Best Pastry Chef of the Year by his peers in 2013.

Patisserie by FoodinLife: You were selected as the ” Monde des Dessert Glacés” in 2018 and, how did all this reflect on your kitchen?

Benoît Charvet: On top of being an excellent opportunity for my career, the world champion title I won stands for the very essence of the profession: it involves lots of rigor, a strong attention to the choice and the quality of the products we use and loads of personal work and efforts.
My motto: culinary technique must serve taste.

PT: New spring season is approaching, could you tell us about the special products you have prepared for this season?
B: I intend to create something with rhubarb from a small local producer. I love rhubarb for its acidity. There is a hundred of varieties of them. Some are thick and crunchy, some are thin and soft. We have to adapt and play with these particularities in every possible ways to finally transcend the product.
In the summer season, I know I will work with strawberries that comes from the “Monts du Lyonnais”, they are growing on the small hills that surround the restaurant. I attach myself to use as many local products as I can.

PT: Could you share with us your collaborations during your career, which is the cornerstone of your pastry journey?

B: One of my most relevant collaboration is probably one of the first I did. I was an apprentice in 2000 and I was in Dubai working on the Emir’s wedding cake. It was the biggest cake you and I have ever seen! It was really impressive, it was 6 metres high and it took 2 months to prepare.
The was even a sugar cage on top of it, with real doves that flew away when we open it ! It is still a great and vivid memory.

PT: What are the Restaurant Paul Bocuse’s future projects with events and receptions?

B: 2024 is going to be a significant year for the restaurant Paul Bocuse: we will celebrate our 100th anniversary!
Of course it means a lot for the staff. We have to bear in mind that the restaurant was just a local and familial inn at first.
A book is to be published about the history of Monsieur Paul and his restaurant. Lots of influent chefs, such as Daniel Boulud, Marc Haeberlin, Jean-Georges Vongerichten and others, will be taking part of this project and write a few words and share a few recipes in this book. We will also organize some events in our reception room l’Abbaye but we are still working on them.

PT: Can we get your opinions on issues such as ensuring the continuity of quality and the effect of production on innovation?

B: To ensure the continuity of quality, you need to choose the right producers, make regular quality checks and order precise quantities to avoid unnecessary waste
Innovation should be mastered with processes that are efficient and easy to make. Any employee should be able to carry them out. That way, we can maintain a regular and smooth production.

PT: Could you explain the most key element of food production?

B: It’s hard to select only one element! I think the human part is the key. Team building is essential. Management also plays a great role in the making of a solid team, I think that a good manager is the one who empowers his employees, and it goes through transfer of know-how and training of the new generation.

PT: What does food mean for you?

B: Some can see it as a primary need but it means everything to me! It’s my job, my passion. It’s a way of expressing myself through a mix of artistic and culinary creation. I feel very lucky to work in a restaurant and to share emotions and pleasure with people. Another interesting dimension is the link between food and nature, it’s amazing to work with products from nature, to transform them and make them come alive.

PT: How do you plan when creating the menu?

B: I work with the seasons; I need to select seasonal and mature products to change our desserts several times a year and avoid routine for our regular guests, and for my team as well.
I also take into account influences from the world of gastronomy and the latest culinary trends. I like to see what my fellow pastry chefs are doing. I can get some new ideas and it’s important for my creating process.

PT: What will be the world gastronomy look like in the future?

B: That’s a very good question… I think we are moving towards a new way of consuming.
In the future, we will focus on sustainability with local products that respect biodiversity.
We will have to produce by ourselves as much as we can. Each restaurant will have its own garden and orchard to keep the cycle as short as possible. That way we can keep a high quality level. Perhaps restaurant will even develop their own livestock production. For sure the world of gastronomy will act for a more reasonable food production. That would mean a lot if we all agree on such issues and follow the same path!

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