No plans yet for famed macaron outlet here

French pastry chef Pierre Herme is in town as International President of the Jury for the Asian Pastry Cup cooking competition.
French pastry chef Pierre Herme is in town as International President of the Jury for the Asian Pastry Cup cooking competition.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

But chef Pierre Herme, who has 47 outlets worldwide, says it is possible as he likes Singapore

Sorry macaron lovers, renowned French pastry chef Pierre Herme is not likely to open his eponymous brand here anytime soon.

The 54-year-old chuckles when he is asked the question, which he hears everytime he comes to Singapore.

"I have no plans yet, but it is possible as this is a country I like," he says, while admiting that he is not familiar with the food scene here as his last visit was three years ago.

Known as the Picasso of Pastry for his macarons with unusual flavour combinations as well as chocolates and cakes, he is in town as the International President of the Jury for the Asian Pastry Cup cooking competition held yesterday and today. It is held in conjunction with the annual Food & Hotel Asia event at the Singapore Expo.

The biennial regional competition sees 11 national teams vying for a chance to enter the World Pastry Cup, held in Lyon next year. Chef Herme will be at ITE College East tomorrow for a roundtable discussion with students about how he grew his brand and other pastry- related topics.

His advice to budding chefs is to "be passionate" and to take time to hone their craft, something that he still does every day.

He is constantly churning out new products and already has next year's "secret" flavours in the works.

The cookbook author has spent the past three years doing research on an idea he calls the Taste of Flour, with plans to produce gluten-free items for sale at his outlets. He has 47 outlets in Paris, Tokyo, China, South Korea, Dubai and Germany.

He says: "In pastry, flour has a physical role. But flour can also give taste if you use different types of extraction, different types of flour, or even by roasting flour."

Another ingredient you might find in his new products is a cereal called amarante, "for its interesting texture and taste", he adds.

Constantly on a quest to be "the most regarded luxury brand in the pastry field", he also does collaborations with artists and designers.

For example, he worked with French beauty company L'Occitane to produce three perfumes for Christmas last year and has a year-long partnership with Japan-based French artist Nicolas Buffe to produce chocolate gift boxes for the different seasons.

Herme worked for gourmet food company Fauchon and rival macaron brand Laduree before opening his own brand.

He says: "I like to work with people in other fields. You can't just limit yourself to the pastry world."

He is also unfazed by copycats who try to recreate his iconic macarons. "It's a tribute. People don't copy bad things, right?"

But he is visibly bothered about a trend he has noticed in the dessert scene - smoked ingredients.

He says: "Everything is smoked. What gives people the idea to smoke vanilla when it is so delicate? And then there's smoked chocolate. I hate it."

Out of all his fancy and unusual flavours, his classic ispahan - a macaron with lychee, rose and raspberry flavours - is still the bestseller in his stores worldwide.

With so many flavours to pick from his repertoire, which is his favourite?

"The next one I create," says Herme, with a chuckle.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 13, 2016, with the headline 'No plans yet for famed macaron outlet here'. Print Edition | Subscribe