World-renowned pastry chef makes France’s most delicious ice cream
Emmanuel Ryon is one of the best ice-cream makers of France, and in the 1990s won the Trophée National des Glaciers. And yet he is known primarily as a pastry chef. In 1999, he was crowned world champion in that category in Lyon, and in 2000 he received the lifelong prestigious title of Meilleur Ouvrier de France Glacier (Best Ice-cream Craftsman in France). Ice cream remains his personal passion.
Since the beginning of this century, Emmanuel Ryon has been sure of it: he wanted to become an ice-cream maker and open his own ice-cream parlour. Because he didn’t immediately find a good location, he spent many years working around the world for a wide variety of major clients. For example, he created refined and original desserts for the Café Pushkin in Moscow, and for the restaurants of Michelin-starred chef Anne-Sophie Pic in Valence, Lausanne and Paris. In 2014, he developed a collection of pastries and ice cream for the Louis Vuitton Foundation.
In 2015, he had finally achieved his goal. With Olivier Ménard, Ryon opened Une Glace à Paris: a patisserie and ice-cream parlour with traditional chairs where one could enjoy cakes, pastries and all sorts of delicious treats to go with the ice-cream coupes. Ice desserts were also available. “We want to create a gastronomic experience with our ice cream,” Ryon told us. “People come for the classics like vanilla, pistachio and caramel. But orange-carrot-ginger is also one of the big sellers in our assortment. We also experiment with new flavours like ice cream with black garlic, smoked chocolate or vanilla with sake kasu: a fermented paste that is used to make sake.”
Vegan and lactose-free ice cream
Ryon closely follows the developments taking place in gastronomy and jumps in where this is desirable. And yet he remains level-headed when it comes to current trends. “Sorbet is lactose-free and vegan in any case, so people can always choose that. There is also very little fat in sorbet. We experimented with ice cream made of almond milk, but the demand was very low. We put little sugar in our ice cream, so that the flavours are pure and easily come to the fore. We focus mainly on fun flavours and original combinations: that is our brand.”
Ryon takes his profession as ice-cream maker very seriously. “You have to work hard, have a real passion for ice cream and, above all, be able to take an artistic approach to your product.” He is irritated by ice-cream makers who often take the easy way out, don’t make proper use of ready-made products or neglect the price-quality ratio. “Making ice cream is a separate speciality. Between two ice creams, the temperature of your product has to stay the same; that is not the case with pastries. To become really good at this profession, you need a lot of patience and have to start small. No one can make perfect ice cream from one day to the next. You need time to learn.”
Une Glace à Paris now has two other shops in the Parisian neighbourhoods of the Marais and Montmartre. 80% of the turnover comes from the sale of ice scream scoops. On a summer weekend, people will line up for forty minutes or so to get an ice cream. The brand is now established: foreign countries beckon. “But we don’t want to go too fast. We do everything ourselves and have no investors. This way, we can decide ourselves how we want to expand and grow.”