Jeffrey Cagnes - La Main Française - Guide de l'artisan contemporain

Jeffrey Cagnes : A taste of French Pâtisserie.

A taste of French Pâtisserie

Jeffrey Cagnes is Maison Stohrer’s pastry Chef for three years now. The beauty of this place – an 18th century monument – remains a great source of inspiration to him. There, he communicates his invigorating energy and passion for modern-yet-classical pâtisserie.

Date: 23 February 2019
City: Paris
Artisan: Jeffrey Cagnes
What was your first contact with pastry-making?

Jeffrey

Pastry-making has played an important role in my life since I was a child.  At home, there were always a lot of pastries and cookies on the table. Every weekend, we would go to renowned French pastry Chef Pascal Caffet’s pastry shop. I remember him making large-scale pieces in sugar or in chocolate. I would then think to myself, it was a beautiful job. I believe my infatuation with pastry-making began around that time.

You have worked with well-known Chefs and famous pastry shops. What can you share about those experiences?

Jeffrey

I mastered flavour and ingredient pairing with Sébastien Gaudard – former pastry Chef at Fauchon. When he hired me at Délicabar – food corner at Le Bon Marché – he quickly noticed my thirst for knowledge and asked me to join the R & D section. I was spending my days testing new recipes and new flavour associations. It greatly enhanced my sense of taste and my creativity. It also allowed me to integrate and to work the recipes with greater ease.

At Hédiard, I learned to be a pastry Chef. It was a serious challenge for me because I got to manage a team and rise to the occasion of important responsibilities at only 20 years old.

With Jean-François Piège – a two Michelin-starred Chef – I discovered the world of Michelin-starred restaurants. We were often traveling abroad for gastronomic events. These broadened my vision of food-making. I eventually left because I found the high-end food industry to be too exhausting and stressful.

Overall, the range of knowledge I’ve cultivated and developed over the years is so diverse that it has allowed me to become a highly adaptable and creatively versatile pastry Chef.

You have come back to Maison Stohrer three times. What does it represent to you?

Jeffrey

It has been a stepping-stone for me. Maison Stohrer is the first – and only pâtisserie – to have accepted to hire me when I arrived in Paris at 16 years old. There, I have learned all the essentials and the basics that are important for a pastry-maker to grasp. They possessed a superlatively sharp know-how – Stohrer invented the infamous Baba au Rhum! – and everything there was hand-made.

About two years later, the owners entrusted me with the sous-chef position, as I was just finishing my apprenticeship with Sébastien Gaudard. Finally, they reached out to me when the Pastry Chef position opened, and I gladly accepted it! It is a place with a long history – the oldest pastry shop in Paris! – and it has its own soul. I feel like home here – we fit like glove and hand!

Pastry-making appears to have a particular etiquette with very classical codes. Can one be creative when doing such a job?

Jeffrey

It is really hard to create a dessert from scratch. Pierre Hermé’s Ispahan is the last creation to date. It is greatly inspired by the macaron so I would not say it is an invention.
In our line of work, I believe we tend to express our originality and creativity by reinterpreting classics.

What dessert do you prefer making?

Jeffrey

I do not really have a preference…If I had to pick one, I would choose the lemon pie because it is my mom’s favourite dessert! At work, we often stray away from the classical recipe to offer original tastes: lime, vanilla lemon, yuzu…

“What I love about our work is that we mark an era, a generation and, of course, we create memories”

What does pastry mean to you?

Jeffrey

What I love about our work is that we mark an era, a generation and, of course, we create memories: birthdays, weddings, bar mitzvahs, communions, Christmas… These are intimate moments that we get to share with people. They’re our guests – it is as if we were at the table with them. I like that idea and the fact that we get to please people.

How do you explain the current infatuation with this discipline?

Jeffrey

In my opinion, the strength of pastry resides in the fact that it is an ephemeral art that creates memories. We all remember our moms’ desserts, maybe even more so than a Thanksgiving turkey…

Social media also largely contributes to highlighting our discipline. We are able to share with the world our recipes and our creations.

What are your future projects?

Jeffrey

I am devoted to continuing to preserve, elevate and evolve the presence and influence of Maison Stohrer, as a landmark of French pâtisserie.

Did you enjoy discovering this craftsman?

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· Credits · Text : Aurélia Monge – Editor : Luna Granados – Photography : Stephen Clement.
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