Garry Larduinat has the pedigree only a French pastry chef could have: He grew up in Limoges, France (some say the origin of the baby madeline), the son of two chefs, and apprenticed his way all the way up to the executive chef position at one of New York City's finest pastry shops, Payard Patisserie. Larduinat has since left Payard but is still making exceptional, inventive masterpieces — now for Instagram.
Larduinat enchants an audience of nearly 165,000 followers by posting his start-to-finish process of making complex desserts. He makes it look easy, but it's really quite difficult. We caught up with Larduinat to talk shop and find out how he comes up with these sweet treats.
How long were you at Payard?
I was at Payard for about five-and-a-half years.
How did you land the job at Payard?
Mr. Payard is a member of the International Relais Desserts Associationm and two of my past employers, also members of Relais Desserts, recommended me for a job there.
Why did you want to move to NYC, or did you want to move to NYC?
I always loved new challenges and experiences, and about six years ago, one of my biggest dreams was to work in NYC, to discover a whole different approach of my profession, but also to learn how to speak English — it was really bad, believe me. So I jumped at the opportunity.
I hear you are moving again — where? And what will you be doing?
Yes, my wife and I are indeed moving. We will be moving to California very soon. There are a couple of exciting opportunities for me out there, and I am in the process of figuring out exactly which path I will pursue once I'm there. But my first stop will be for some much-needed Family time back in France.
Where do you find inspiration for your desserts?
Like many chefs, I'm inspired by the season I'm in. That's where to start to get the freshest and best ingredients — hugely important. From there, I've always been naturally drawn to colors and textures. So anything from spending time in nature to visiting an art museum will open me up to new ideas.
Once you have an idea, how do you approach the different elements and flavors and textures?
If I'm working with the seasons, having a classic French pastry background, I stick to a base of classic flavor combinations, but I like to add an unexpected personal twist either in flavor, texture, or presentation. I'm a big fan of elements of salt and crunch in a dessert. I think these elements greatly lift and showcase your main ingredients in any dessert you make.
How often did you change the menu at Payard?
When I used to work at Payard, as well as in other patisseries where I've been in the past, we would change the collection every three months or so, aligning with the seasons.
If you had your own pastry shop, what would you call it?
I would call it La Patôche (Lah pa-TOASH). It's a term of endearment for "pastry" or "making pastries" in French.
How did you come up with the idea for this green apple dessert?
Throughout my career, every fall I would make some version of the classic French dessert, apple Tatin. It's one of my favorite classic desserts, but I felt like trying something new and playful with the color of a bright green apple and a filling of caramelized apples, all held together with a luscious white chocolate mousse. That's where the idea came from.
The feather in this green apple dessert — how did you come up with that? Have you used it in any other pastries?
I have a lot of tattoos. A huge trend I noticed in tattoos over the past couple of years are feather tattoos. One day I thought, "why not try it in chocolate?" I've decorated a couple of other cakes with chocolate feathers in the past.
What are some of your favorite flavors?
I love salted caramel, roasted chestnut, caramelized nuts, and one of my favorite combos is passion fruit and milk chocolate.
What's the one kitchen tool you can't live without?
A scale. No matter how creative I want to be, pastry is a science and requires precision and exact measurements. A scale always helps to keep me in check.
What's the one ingredient you can't live without?