Feb 10th, 2019, 02:53 PM

Behind the Scenes at Paris' Oldest Patisserie

By Claire Price
A Stagiaire rolling pain au chocolat
A stagiaire expertly rolls pain au chocolat, Image Credit: Claire Price
Stohrer: a Taste of Tradition.

A delicious trip through time

Stoher has been one of the few select patisseries who had an invitation extended to them for the exclusive annual food conference, "Taste of Paris" which will be taking place from the 9 to the 12 of May. In the 1730s Paris, Nicolas Stohrer was not only the private patissier to King Louis XV and the Queen but also the inventor of Baba Au Rhum, a French classic. His patisserie, Stohrer, is now the oldest working pastry shop in Paris and is officially recognized as a historical site. Peacock Plume went behind the scenes on a delicious trip through time. We followed a stagiaire, the culinary term for intern, Grace Price (51) through a typical day in the kitchen. An invitation was extended to the pastry shop for the annual food conference, "Taste of Paris" which will be taking place from the 9 to the 12 of May.

Mornings at Stohrer are early, with employees waking up as early as 4 AM to get to the kitchen by 6 AM. For a stagiaire, each week presents a different challenge. Stagiaires rotate “postes,” each poste is dedicated to a different type of pastry. This week, our stagiaire is making viennoiserie. Viennoiseries are baked goods, specifically items consumed on a daily basis for a Parisian, like bread or morning croissant.

While croissants look and taste quite simple, the baking process is anything but easy, but our stagiaire, Price, decided to give Plume a sneak peek behind the scenes of the infamous French pastry. After mixing and rolling the dough, bakers use a large lamination machine to layer the dough and butter in order to achieve the perfect flaky texture. Once the dough is properly laminated, it is carefully laid down on a clean, flat, surface and the pain au chocolats begin to form. Patissier use a device called a bicyclette to efficiently cut and shape the future croissants. After cutting, two pieces of baker’s chocolate is carefully placed on each square of dough. The dough is rolled and it is now ready to bake. The rolling process is delicate. One stagiaire explains that “You just have to stop thinking and just do it and do it until it comes to your body naturally. It's not physically hard, but the pastry itself is physically delicate. You have to be able to move your fingers quickly and confidently without thinking.”

Before lunch, one stagiaire rolls 100 croissants and 100 pain au chocolats in addition to forming tartes, raisin rolls, and bread. The team behind the pastries is what makes everything work so well.

There is a diverse group of chefs and stagiaires from all around the world. Price is from Los Angeles, California, while some of her mentors are from Cameroon, Mali, and Israel. Despite the various backgrounds, there is a light-hearted atmosphere with a sense of unity. Many of these patissiers or stagiaire have been in patisserie since they were 18 years old and started apprenticeships as soon as they could. The head chef, Jeffrey Cagnes, is only 33. The youth of the team is evident in bright and energetic conversations. Kindness is one thing you cannot enter the kitchen without. In fact, Jeffrey Cagnes even let a couple of chefs go because their hostile attitudes were not welcome.


Head Chef, Jeffrey Cagnes, with stagiaire, Grace Price. Image Credit: Claire Price

Price stated that “Everyone laughs a lot, everyone jokes around a lot. There is a lot of laughter. It is a very pleasant work environment. If you aren’t cool and kind, you won’t last there because he (Jeffrey) is cool and kind, and he won’t tolerate that”. The flavors across Stohrer's pastries are strong without being overwhelming. Taking a trip to Stohrer is proof that you can taste tradition. Stohrer is an old gem that everyone should visit for a sweet treat and a small history lesson.

Information:

Stohrer, 51 Rue Montorgueil, 75002 Paris

Hours: Monday-Sunday- 7:30AM-8:30PM

Phone: +33 01 42 33 38 20