Around the World: The Favorite Things of Ritz Paris Pastry Chef François Perret

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François Perret, pastry chef at the prestigious luxury hotel Ritz Paris since 2015.

Bernard Winkelman

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As pastry chef at the famous luxury hotel Ritz Paris since 2015 (and before that Le Meurice, George V and Shangri-La Hotel Paris), François Perret is accustomed to concocting decadent creations for an affluent audience.

He is so talented at it that in 2019, he was named the best pastry chef in the world by the Grandes Tables du Monde. Not bad for a guy who’s been dreaming of pastries since childhood. “I developed a passion for this job, for pastry, when I was just a kid,” says Perret, 41. “The magic that surrounds baking and the happiness it brings has motivated me from the very beginning.

Perret’s career, however, has given him more than the opportunity to bake. The same year he was named the best pastry chef on the planet, he traveled to California to film a documentary for Netflix. Called cook in a truckthe show followed Perret as he tasted and then attempted to Frenchize classic American treats, like ‘smore, for unsuspecting strangers on the street.

For this gourmet chef, it was the educational experience of a lifetime. “To think creatively and my thirst for adventure inspired me to do cook in a truck,” he adds. “The goal [of doing it] was to think outside the box and get out of my comfort zone while staying in my chosen field.

The show’s success (it was released on Apple TV for American audiences in November) ushered in the final phase of Perret’s career. A cookbook accompanying the documentary series was released to coincide with the U.S. premiere, and Le Comptoir, a standalone cafe entirely dedicated to his creations, opened at the Ritz Paris in summer 2021.

More than just a tribute to the French love for delicious pastries, Le Comptoir is truly a celebration of Perret’s whimsical approach to his craft. In fact, the dishes he learned about street food culture during his antics in Los Angeles informed some of the cafe’s key menu items. “Thanks to this experience, I imagined the now famous cake shakes,” he explains. “As well as the elongated sandwiches that can be easily eaten out, on the go.”

It is these unexpected moments that have attracted Comptoir customers. It also helps that the inventory is priced more accessible than the rest of what is normally offered at the Ritz Paris. After all, who wouldn’t be curious to try a three-euro croissant from an award-winning French chef?

But instead of the classic crescent, this crescent is long and thin as a rule. Yes, the buttery, layered decadence is definitely here, but Perret opted for a more utilitarian silhouette so it could be more wearable and then cushioned like a hero. There are four of them here, including a classic ham and butter sandwich, sitting in a case alongside giant madeleines and a candied pecan mille-feuille.

Because for Perret, now that he is well anchored in his childhood dreams of making pastries, there is still a lot to accomplish. “Every day I wake up thinking, ‘What idea is going to pop up?’ or “What pastry am I going to create today,” he says, admitting that his goals are now bigger than ever. “I’d like to add another cornerstone to the bastion of pastry and maybe create something that would be as emblematic as the macaron in France.”

Taking a break from realizing this lofty ambition, Perret recounts penta his favorite things.

“Every day I wake up thinking, ‘What pastry am I going to make today?'”

Bernard Winkelman

What wakes me up in the morning is… my alarm. But more seriously, the desire to move forward and continue to create.

My favorite pastry to make at home is… cookies. It’s my kids’ favorite!

My favorite neighborhood in the world is… the Asakusa district in Tokyo. Whether you are looking for cooking or baking utensils, traditional knives, Japanese or Western tableware, this place is amazing, especially Kappabashi Street in the Asakusa district. Otherwise, it would be where my children are.

If I had to buy a work of art, it would be by…
Eddy Vitalone.

One of my passions that few people know about is… the piano. I took lessons for two years and I want to start again. I also have a passion for wine, which goes well with my job!

The next destination on my travel itinerary is… New York.

The best book I’ve read recently is… a children’s book, The day the crayons came home by Drew Daywalt.

The restaurant in my hometown that I like to take a visitor to is… Café des Ministries in the 7th arrondissement of Paris.

One person who inspired me to do what I do is… my father. His strength to persevere, his positivity and his endurance.

If I could have a drink with anyone, anywhere, it would be… with Clint Eastwood in a saloon in Texas. The film Once upon a Time in the West is one of my favorites.

My favorite way to relax is… a delicious dinner with my closest friends.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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