By Samantha Eichenberg
If you are anything like me then you are a sucker for three things: chefs, accents and desserts. If you answered yes then please let me introduce you to Chef Francois Payard.
Francois is the owner of the FPB, FP Patisserie and the Payard brands that have locations all over the world. However, we are fortunate enough to have the flagships right here in NYC. A third generation French Pastry Chef, this man possesses the skills to make any woman’s heart melt like the chocolate in his kitchen. Before I begin let me give you some background about my history with Monsieur Payard.
Francois and I are both involved with the charity City, Harvest. Back in February we were partnered up at a competition to raise money and awareness. We were given a secret ingredient and 40 minutes to make something spectacular. Our ingredient; eggs. EGGS! I mean, come on, we’re pastry chefs, what CAN’T we do with eggs. Naturally, we get busy with the rest of our team and start cooking. Right out of the gate we were laughing (mostly him at my “home schooled” techniques), but when we started cracking eggs I went “expressive chef mode” while he was incredibly delicate and precise. He just set the egg down, laughed and in that French accent said “You are going to be trouble”. He wasn’t wrong, I am known to be a handful in the kitchen (in a crazy fun way). Here we are in our first culinary adventure.
The day I traveled down to FPB on West Houston Street I was very excited to see him in his element, and hopefully scoop up a few scraps along the way. FPB has the essence of a trendy Parisian cafe, very warm, inviting and the smells, oh my the smells! Pastries and chocolate lined displays wrap around the front counter and your eyes didn’t know where to look first. But the taste…almost indescribable. Francois produces the most authentic French pastries all while adding his own touch to many classic desserts. His most notable are his Le Gâteau Roulé*, Macarons, and just for the summer Macaron Ice Cream sandwiches!
I eventually pried myself away from the pastries and met him in the kitchen at the “chocolate room” (how do I get one of those?). He was diligently working and flawlessly. Making his own chocolate and focused on every cut he made, a true expression of how much passion goes into his creations. I watched in ah until he saw me and flashed that big Francois smile. He gave me an exclusive tour of the kitchen and of course fed me chocolate with each step. His chocolate is a masterpiece on its own. So perfect, smooth and fresh.
We finished off our day just chatting and drinking espresso, talking desserts, business and what NOT to do when I open my own place. It was magical. A budding Pastry Chefs dream to spend a day with such a renowned master of the craft.
The happy ending of the culinary Fairy Tale. If you love authentic French desserts, gourmet chocolate and incredible atmosphere then you need to make your way to FPB Bakery followed by FP Patisserie. Both will satisfy that decedent desire for classic, French confections.
1775 Broadway. Between 57th & 58th
116 West Houston St. between Thompson & Sullivan
210 Murray St. between West St. and North End Ave.
1293 3rd Ave. & 74th
One West 58th Street – Plaza Hotel Food Hall