Pierre Hermé is one of the world’s most famous pastry chefs. During his stay in Qatar in November 2015, where he was signing two of his best-selling titles at FNAC (Lagoona Mall), we had the chance to sit down with the Picasso of pastries and indulge in a delicious chat
By Edward Smith
Is it your first time in Qatar?
PH. No it is my second time. I came here before when we were looking for a retail space and to discover Qatar for the first time.
Your local partner is the Darwish Group. Can you tell us more about your relationship with the Darwish family ?
PH. In fact, this is the story of an encounter with people who are passionate and understand what a brand identity is and who know about the brand- development process with a long-term vision in mind. This was what thrilled us when we met with Majed and Jassim Al Darwish—they are successful entrepreneurs with long-term goals and objectives.
What makes your macaroons unique and better than that of your competitors?
PH. I think the taste is our standout quality! It is a potent mix between a powerful flavour and creativity. We always release new flavours or present some new combination of flavours. Nonetheless we also develop unique flavours such as infiniment vanille, rose and caramel— I like to work with one flavour and go in very deep and keep pushing it to its limit.
You are indeed famous for your very innovative, sometimes unlikely, flavour combinations —like the macaroon with Foie Gras or Green Peas —are these some deep-held fantasies or it is part of a serious culinary experiment?
PH.The green peas in macaroons are not something random. On the contrary, the mix between green peas and menthe is a traditionally recognised combination. The green pea is the sweetest vegetable of its kind—sometimes they’re cut out of diets for being too sweet! So it is an obvious combination for me and if this kind of unusual association can bring fun and pleasure at the same time we accomplished our mission.
How many stores does PH have worldwide?
PH.We are currently operating in 11 countries; there are around 47 boutiques around the world, and 600 employees.
How you manage to maintain quality control throughout the different Hermé stores throughout the world?
PH.When you are going to LV or Hermes are you asking them how they manage to maintain a certain quality consistency? Here it is the same story because it is also a know-how. To be a pastry chef you need to be highly organised and consistent in order to transmit your techniques or your know-how—it is the essence of our development—we should be able to transmit and preserve our heritage.
How can you guarantee that the same product being sold in Paris and in Doha will have the same taste?
PH.The trick is the fact that the product we are selling in Doha is also the product we are manufacturing in France—they are both the same product (laughs). Every single product is made in France!