Les Artizans in Paris combines patisserie and gastronomy
One is a pastry chef, the other a cook. After an almost equal career, fate brings them together in Paris, where they open Les Artizans: a restaurant that has grown from both their disciplines. Mathieu Mandard, national dessert champion of France and Patrick Canal, talented chef, propose a refined and gourmet bistro cuisine. With perhaps the best pastries in Paris.
Mathieu Mandard's career reads like an adventure novel. From the fashionable Val d'Isère he leaves for Paris, then goes to Moscow and returns to Paris. He compares his education to a paramilitary training. During his school education he worked extremely long shifts at Segond (Meilleur Ouvrier de France) in Aix-en-Provence, at Romaric in Lyon and at Patrick Chevallot (MOF) in Val d'Isère: all three renowned pastry chefs.
"My biggest step was to move to Paris. You read, hear and see a lot of what is happening here: the magical, the unknown, the luxury. Coupe du Monde-like scenes, but the reality was a bit different. Integrating in Paris was more difficult than I had previously estimated. I went to work in Hotel George V and there it was done with the friendly environment of a bakery or restaurant. In a 'palace' with about five hundred people on the payroll, you are just short of a number. Mandatory stop working and use the time clock after eight hours of work was an eye-opener for me. I had never experienced this before, I almost didn't know what to do with my free time. It was the learned discipline that forced me to go back after the official clocking out to practice and train. For example, I was going to run a hundred quenelles or sharpen other techniques. With that reinforced base, I registered for the 'Championnat de France de Desserts' competition. We write 2004, I was barely 23 and won the competition!"
"After two years I had seen it in Hotel George V and came into contact with Emmanuel Ryon (MOF and world champion patisserie). He was looking for a French pastry chef to join him in reviving Café Pushkin in Moscow. A gigantic project, a huge challenge, but also an adventure with many frustrations and growing pains. This is where I have taken my biggest steps, both on a personal and professional level.
Because the local population had zero professional knowledge, we had to pump in education, training and discipline in one year , all through interpreters and sign language!"
"After three years in Moscow, it was time for something else. In 2009 I started Art Macaron in Paris, my first commercial adventure. A tearoom with barely eighteen seats for breakfast, macarons, cakes, brunch and so on. I broke the classic store code by working with a display case and a saleswoman in the middle of the store: just like a jeweler."
"Physical expansion was not possible there. The place was relatively healthy and I was able to sell desserts, pastries and macarons to some restaurants nearby. That's how I met Patrick Canal, the then chef of restaurant Le Tournon, behind the Jardin de Luxembourg, where I delivered desserts. Our passion and joint interest grew into a business plan, the basis of what is now Les Artizans. "Patrick and I's disciplines, gastronomy and patisserie, fit together perfectly to keep this business open seven days a week: from early in the morning until late at night. Compare it with the philosophy of a five-star hotel, but more accessible. Here you can enjoy breakfast, drinks, patisserie, lunch, tea, dinner or just a good bottle of wine at any time of the day."
"The year 2018 wasn't really thunderous. We had a long, mild winter and a hot summer: not exactly 'patisserie weather'. That puts pressure on the turnover of every business. And then sometimes you start to doubt. Is this combination of patisserie and bistro okay? Are the passers-by too rushed or are we perhaps ahead of our time? This is a very commercial street, with many walkers, tourists and Parisians on their way to or from the metro. Time will tell."
"Times have changed dramatically. Nowadays you mainly get media attention from influencers, who buy some pastries here and photograph them a hundred meters away in the park. This is followed by a post on their blog or Instagram account. The time when a review in a leading quality newspaper like Le Figaro generated traffic to your store is completely over."
"Nevertheless, in addition to the creative and strict level of finish, we continue to pay a lot of attention to the basics. Many colleagues go from the basics to 'Instagrammable' creations too quickly. But making beautiful, flashy products is not that difficult. Really tasty products are a completely different story. The basis is not only about taste and quality of basic raw materials, but especially about the technique. You can seduce them once with seemingly beautiful patisserie, but when the taste and structure or combination are not right, you lose the customer.
Especially in Paris, where, in my humble opinion, perhaps too many good pastry chefs are fighting together for the summit. The competition in Paris is tough and Paris is slowly but surely becoming saturated. Fortunately, Parisians love patisserie and good food in a friendly, accessible atmosphere. We will continue to take care of that, every day."