If you’ve been on TikTok recently, you’ve probably seen viral videos of the iconic Cédric Grolet croissant in Paris. Internationally acclaimed pastry chef Cédric Grolet has been on everyone’s radar as of late, and for good reason. Chef Cédric’s pastries are unlike any other in the pastry world. The incredible level of mastery folded into each of his creations has put him in a league all his own. Chef Cédric’s reach even extends beyond Paris, with locations in London and a recently launched Singapore flagship. The world has been drawn into his kaleidoscope of confectionaries and we got the golden ticket into his mind and expertise on crafting the perfect croissant. Read on for the full interview.
When and where did your passion for the culinary arts begin?
The education I received and the family I grew up in. My parents, who brought me up in the countryside in the middle of nature, and my grandfathers — one of whom was a cook and the other a painter.
There is no one person in particular who’s been a source of inspiration, I think it’s more a universe of people. To put it another way — even the people who may have been prejudicial to me throughout my career have served as well. I think everyone inspires me.
Where do you draw your inspiration from now?
In absolutely everything that surrounds me — architecture, fashion, smells, nature, the city, intimate moments with my family, my teams, human exchanges, different cultures, the world!
What is the secret to a good croissant?
The recipe for a good croissant is quite simply when it’s homemade, on the spot at the last minute — that’s a good croissant. If it’s a croissant that’s been in the freezer for months and baked one, two or three days before, it won’t do. What I like in a croissant is when it has one or two hours to live.
What is the perfect texture of a croissant?
What I like in croissant is when the outer layer crumbles and inside it’s fluffy. I like the contrast between the crunchy and the fluffy — but it’s very difficult to do. For example, sometimes it rains in Paris, so there’s humidity and the croissant reacts immediately to this and quickly becomes soft. For me, a croissant that comes out of the oven and is eaten 10 minutes later is perfect, but it’s difficult to give to every customer on a daily basis.
In three words, how would you describe the perfect croissant?
Smell, temperature, France.
What has been the greatest achievement of your career thus far?
The strongest thing in a company — and in ours, is team spirit. A good team takes you further, and that’s my greatest achievement.
What traditions do you have at home that you infuse into your everyday life?
The respect I have for those close to me. I think it’s the same in my teams and vice versa. There’s also a rigor that I have at work that I find in my private life — but I try to be more flexible in both. I think it’s a perpetual ping-pong between private and professional life.
What’s something about yourself not too many people know?
I think people see me as a popular person known on social media by the number of followers I have. On the other hand, I’m someone who likes to be in quiet places where no one can see me, in the middle of nature. I feel good when I’m out in nature, where there’s hardly anyone around except the people I really like.
What would you like people to feel when stepping into one of your locations?
I’d like them to feel different from how they feel today. We can’t control the number of people waiting outside, and that’s why it takes time. Our aim isn’t to show that we’re chasing customers around all day. I want there to be a real experience with explanations of the cakes, the smells, a place where my pastry chefs work and welcome — where everyone says hello when they come in.
Today, we’re not just talking about a simple tasting experience, but a complete experience, with smells, aesthetics, design and a warm welcome. I don’t want people to feel like they’re just simple customer; my dream is that when they arrive at my place, they should feel at home. However, it’s very difficult to give that kind of experience because we have so many people in front of the stores every day.
What would you like people to feel when tasting one of your creations?
I want them to be impressed by the taste; the low sugar and fat content. It’s important to me that they understand what they’re eating. I hate to eat a dessert that has too many flavours that we don’t understand — that’s why we usually do one flavour or even two in some desserts, but that’s rare, we never go above two. I want them to feel the quality of the raw materials used, the work we put in, the packaging and the service. With my teams, we try to push everything to the maximum to achieve “very good”.
Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
I hope to have as many customers as today, to satisfy everyone as best I can, and to be better in five years. The aim is to do better than what’s done today.
This interview has been condensed and transcribed from French.