Interview with a Committed Artisan: Jeffrey Cagnes

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For Jeffrey Cagnes, it’s the handling that makes all the difference. Mastered artisanal dexterity allows him to take basic ingredients to the next level and give real identity to his creations.

“I wanted to take an almost irregular approach to pastry making, and it’s always more difficult to make something irregular look good than something regular.”

Can you tell us about your shop and why you chose its location?

It took a long time to find the right location and it just so happens that I found a place in a Parisian neighbourhood. When I visited the premises, I had a good feeling and said to myself, “I’d like to be in a new neighbourhood, to be close to people.”

In our line of work, we have to do our best every day to create ties with our customers. If what you make isn’t good, they won’t come back. If it’s good, they’ll come back.

How did you create your offer?

I wanted to give it an artisanal twist, to return to real values, not just make ‘Instagrammable” desserts but homemade ones, without necessarily using silicone moulds or coloured icings. The objective was to get back to basics, by returning to almost irregular pastry making.

What kind of commitment are you striving to convey through your products?

My commitment is in the handiwork. Mastered artisanal dexterity. It’s all in the hands, those of the pastry chef and of my teams. The ingredients are there, we just have to “draw” with them.

You say that your approach is one of transparency with your customers, can you tell us a little more about that?

We try to be transparent with our customers as to how we work. And I think that on that point, all generations - young, old, future generations - of pastry chefs are headed in the right direction.

We try to follow seasonality and respect the ingredients. And when we talk about ingredients, we are talking about their traceability. The origin of the ingredients, especially cream and butter, is also very important. We try to be as sincere as we can with regard to products we use on a daily basis.

Why do you use Lescure butter?

This is truly top-quality butter, made in a region known for its expertise in butter making, offering real traceability as to where the butter comes from. 

Today, you can find similar butters, but you don’t know where they come from. There is no connection with the producers who have the know-how for making them. With this butter there is mastery of flavour that really is completely different.  

Butter is what is most important in our line of work because in pastry making, fat is butter and butter provides length. That’s the flavour that lingers on the palate. It’s that veil of roundness in the mouth. And butter also acts as a flavour enhancer.  

Can you tell us more about your croissant recipe?

It’s a rather simple recipe. A classic croissant has two little points on the side. Mine just has one, which makes it much moister with more air-cell pockets. We handle the dough very little; we just shape it and place it inside a ring to let it rise.

I’ve replaced the sugar by honey because I work with a beekeeper in Meulan, just outside Paris, who makes fantastic honey. And I find it really interesting to add honey to croissant dough because it’s a different type of sweetener, the taste is different, the length on the palate is different. Then the butter works its magic to bring out all the flavours, and the end result is a croissant with incredible flavour.


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