PASSION FOR PASTRY
Why would I, a dyed in the drool foodie be doing here in Los Angeles’ famed fashionable Rodeo Drive? This world famous glamorous designer boulevard continues to be the crowning shopping experience. Globally renowned for it’s luxurious high fashion, Los Angeles’ Rodeo Drive magnetizes the rich and the famous with its super luxurious clothes, bags, shoes and jewelery in it’s super elegant stores. But in my view, None of that can compare with the luxurious patisserie that is igniting my passion. And this is what brings me here again and again.
More beautiful than any jewellery, certainly more precious, these confections preen below the glass dome which the brilliant French patisseur Thomas Bellec is holding. Chef Bellec from Brittany in France has honed his skills under many a Michelin starred chef and is now himself making waves on the global gourmet scene. He creates the most amazing gems of wizardry in the immaculate kitchens of the iconic Beverly Wilshire which has distilled decades of Hollywood glamour! It is not only a legendary landmark but also officially on the National Register of Historic Places of the United States. I love saying this, but seriously, here reality is more exciting than fantasy. Here food and films sparkle with high-voltage glamour.
Not only have Hollywood celebrities such as Elvis Presley, Warren Beatty and Steve McQueen lived in the Hotel, but also our very own Bollywood stars. I have dined here with Anil kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, Gulshan Grover and many others.And then ofcourse the Hotel shot into global fame when 25 years ago when the movie Pretty Woman starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere was shot here. Both Hollywood and Bollywood live and dine here. And revel in the luxurious comfort of this landmark hotel helmed by the dapper and dynamic Ben Trodd. It is here that Chef Bellec keeps creating magic from the freshest of Californian produce. But, today I focus on the patisserie. Sweetest of seductions.
WHEN IN FRANCE…
No two ways about it. The worlds best patisserie is created in France. And chef Bellec brings with him many an exquisite French tradition. During many months of my shooting my TV shows for Times Now in France, it was the sheer exuberance, the stories of origin behind the patisserie that blew my mind. Even the pastry shops themselves are amazing. Exquisite confections are lovingly displayed like precious gems… and in the same purposeful way the Parisians choose jewellery they pick sweet treats to crown their meals.
Interestingly, French patisserie owes a lot to Italy as it was Catherine de Medici who brought her retinue of patissieurs in her dowry when she married the French King Henry 11
In France, cakes and pastries have fascinating histories and pedigrees. I not only shot a whole TV show on these but can write books on them too.
While filming the famed pastry Mille-feuille, with Chef Christophe Michalak in Paris, I learnt a lot about it. Did you know that this pastry’s name literally means “thousand leaves” ? It’s a sublime pastry made from many layers of puff pastry alternating with a sweet filling (usually pastry cream, whipped cream or custard). Did you know that the legend is that it was named thus because a patisseur was given the challenge to create a pastry with a thousand leaves? And he did it.
Madeleines: I learnt not only to bake them in Le Cordon Bleu in Paris but also the charming legend behind these yummy little shell-shape cakes. They have the consistency of a light pound cake, a lovely pronounced butter and lemon taste. And the story goes that when the King was readying for a huge banquet in his palace, the temperamental French chef got into a fight in the kitchen and left the palace. There was no sweet to end the banquet. The King’s maid stepped in to bake what she knew, she baked tiny shell shaped cakes. Her name was Madeleine and the king decreed that these be named after her.
There are cakes named after buildings (Opera cake) after a cycle race (Paris Brest) and a whole legend behind the Macaron sisters who created the well-loved macaron. The list goes on and on. But due to shortage of space, am unable to share these here as I am unable to print Chef Bellec’s fabulous patisserie recipes.S hould you need them, please mail email@example.com, instagram, tweet @rashmiudaysingh. Im happy to spread sweetness. Always!