Christophe Louie is the Pastry Chef Second at La Grande Epicerie.
We met a few month ago thanks to mutual friends.
When he told me that he was working at La Grande Epicerie, I had so many questions that he invited me to come here and introduced me to the Pastry Chef, Loïc Cabrero.
Loïc Cabrero started his career at fifteen years old, learning cooking.
At 18, he felt more attracted by baking.
He learned the job, working with Jean-Michel Tachon for a year.
He tries contests, breaks his ‘pièce en sucre‘ at the final, works at the Department of Defense’s cabinet, and finally meets Lionel Lallement who will be his second mentor.
Lionel Lallement was ‘Meilleur Ouvrier de France‘ in 1989 (at only 24 years old) and he’s been the Pastry Chef at Saint-Clair Traiteur for about 20 years.
Loïc stayed at Saint-Clair Traiteur for 7 years and a half.
Then, he went to Le Mans to work with Jacques Bellanger, ‘Meilleur Ouvrier de France Chocolatier’.
In 2007, he got a proposal from La Grande Epicerie to develop the caterer part.
He worked with Benoit Castel from 2007-2012.
When Benoit Castel left in 2012, Loïc passed tests and replaced him as the Pastry Chef.
L.C. : ‘These four persons were guides, advisors and role models for me. They mean a lot to me’.
Then he builds his own team.
L.C. : ‘I called David, who I knew from Saint-Clair. We work the same way. I decided to let him the lab organization. He’s also in charge of the caterer part.
Christophe was already here when I arrived and he had the experience of luxury hotels and shops. He does the tests and he’s the best at relaying knowledges’.
I thought we’d focus only on pastry, but Loïc loves working at La Grande Epicerie, so I followed him in the others labs as the bakery, the chocolate factory…
I wanted to discover the backstage area, that’s exactly what we did !
It’s such a labyrinth downstairs and everything goes fast !
L.C. : ‘We have 2 flour silos and 50 different kinds of bread. We have the less expensive Pain Poilâne in Paris ! We have a batch every 2 hours…
La Grande Epicerie is the only shop with its own products made on site’.
I’ve learnt that they do everything on site from take-away salads & pastries to restaurants dishes.
L.C. : ‘Our work is divided in four activities : 50% goes to the cake shop, 30% is for Caterer, 15% for the restaurants La Table & Le Balthazar and 15% is for take-away sales.
Our products are differents for each activity. At the cake shop, we imagine an original recipe every month.
We only work with seasonal fruits. Our chocolate comes from Pralus or Valrhona and for dairy products, we work with L’Or des Prés.
We have 4 different sorts of vanilla from Tahiti and Madagascar and we’ll soon revisit the coffee eclair with a fantastic coffee we found !’
P-I. : How do you get inspired ?
L.C. : I’m really open-minded. I like to travel, to discover new products. My wife is also a part of my inspiration, and my team of course. I can exchange ideas with David, Christophe, Valentin or Marine. It’s a teamwork, so we always try to reach agreements.
P-I. : And how is your team organized ?
L.C. : 24 persons are working here, we have 3 apprentices, more women than men, people from 18 years old to 52 and a lot of them are in career changes.
P-I. : What would you like people think about your creations ?
L.C. : “That’s soo good !” I try to enhance produces and I think the taste is what counts more.
P-I. : What’s your favorite ingredient ?
L.C. : Vanilla ! I also love jams. But sometimes a vanilla cream or a vanilla chantilly is just perfect!
P.I. : What’s the cake you admire the most ?
L.C. : I love Christophe Michalak‘s cakes. I admire the work of Patrick Roger (chocolate maker). And I like Claire Damon’s shop, Des Gâteaux et du Pain.
P.I. : What creation makes you feel proud ?
L.C. : I’m very proud of our Saint-Honoré. And our Pavlova. I also love our lemon meringue pie. I had the idea of a ‘dome’ when I was looking at the Red Square in Moscow 6 years ago.
And, every year, I’m really enthusiastic to create new Yule log.
P.I. : So, what we have to expect this year ?
L.C. : We work on Christmas creations 6 months before ! We’re lucky to work with Le Bon Marché marketing team. We think about the corporate visual identity together.
This year, we’ll come back to a traditional Christmas. Our creations will be red, black and gold. You will always find 3 flavors : crusty, creamy and a mousse with a special touch !
P-I. : What’s your challenges to come ?
L.C. : To be ranked in the 10 best bakeries in Paris !
I’m pretty sure you’ll reach that challenge Loïc !
Thank you very much for your welcome and your team’s. That was a magical moment (and thanks for the tastings!)