What has experience taught you? Do you bring a personal touch to your work?
Tokaji baba: we recreated a traditional recipe that had been forgotten. Everyone has heard of rum baba, but no one seemed to remember that it wasn’t originally made with rum. We’re really happy to have been able to share this knowledge with everyone. It’s also an opportunity to highlight Tokaji wine, which was the wine of Stanislaw that he moved heaven and earth to get every year. We have historical documents where he writes to his friends back in Alsace, asking them to make sure that the small barrel of Tokaji makes it across the border and that the customs officers don’t take too much.
Bergamot Candy: the recipe appears in the book “Le Cannaméliste Français” (The French Candier) written in Lunéville by Stanislaw’s chef. He was in charge of cooking, presentation, decorating tables, prepping, making desserts and serving. There are lots of recipes in this book, most of them are sweet, and in particular candied fruit recipes that were then called jams. These could be dry jams like candied fruit, or liquid jams that were candied fruits in syrup, similar to the type of jam that we spread on our toast in the morning. If you crystalise these fruits in a syrup that is more and more concentrated, you get what we call Candy. We changed the recipe a little for a result with more fruit and less sugar, creating a Candy with a fine fruit flavour that is easier to bite into.
Who do you want to pass on your expertise to? And how do you plan to do it?
Unlike other Nancy specialities, our recipes aren’t a secret. We regularly welcome journalists and show them our recipes. And every year, I have apprentices and trainees in the kitchen, and I teach them how to prepare our specialities. There is nothing secret about it, but the technique is acquired through hard work and experience.
Any tips to share or pass on to non-pastry chefs?
Tokaji baba: the trick is knowing how to work with baking yeast. Since it’s a living microorganism, you can’t rush it in terms of the temperature at the start of the recipe. You really have to give the yeast time to work the flour, transform the aromas of the dough, and multiply. All this will help the baba properly rise and bake well in the oven. It also contributes to the texture of the baba.
Bergamot Candy: you have to take your time and candy the fruit slowly in the sugar syrup, increasing the syrup’s concentration little by little without rushing it. Otherwise, the zest is too hard and won’t take the sugar well.