Viva La Renaissance! A Q&A With Master Patissier Jean Michel Raynaud

If you’ve ever wandered the cobblestones of The Rocks, you’ll have seen La Renaissance Patisserie and Cafe, the cute little patisserie on Argyle Street with a perennial cluster of fans milling at the entrance. If you’ve ever seen La Renaissance, you’ve almost certainly lingered a little, admiring the intricate cakes, pastries, and freshly baked bread through the window. If you’ve ever lingered a little you’ll have almost definitely lingered a little longer, and if you’ve done that then odds are you couldn’t resist and wandered in to eat. And if you’ve done that, well – then you already know what all the fuss is about.

Jean Michel Raynaud is head patissier of La Renaissance. Beginning his career under the tutelage of master patissier Robert Schicchi in Marseilles, he was head pastry chef at a 3 Michelin-starred restaurant in France by the age of 20 (and has only got better from there). He has appeared across the Australian media on TV, in magazines and contributing to several books, and now finally has released his own.

To celebrate the release of The French Baker, we sat down with Raynaud to find about more about the man behind the macarons. (And the cakes. And the pies. And the brownies. And the tarts. And…)

What inspires you when you cook and are developing recipes, and what excites you most about what you do?

Like many other patissiers, most of my inspiration comes from the change in seasons and the place (or context) in which I am baking. Apart from that, one of the most exciting things as a professional is to understand, educate and cater for the ever-changing popular flavours and styles that come in and out of fashion. This is what makes my job so exciting and never boring.

Do you have a philosophy you bring to your work?

I believe that how you work is a direct reflection of who you are, so I have the same principles for work as I do privately – always try to improve, always work on being the best at what it is you do – and this definitely influences how you relate to people and what you expect from others.

What made you want to write The French Baker and share your recipes with the world?

I think The French Baker is a culmination of a 30 year career, working in some of the best restaurants and pastry shops around the world and eventually coming back to where it all began – baking simple and evocative food for family. It takes a lifetime to distill all that you have learnt and actually understand what is at the root of your passion. Writing a book on baking and sharing some of my favourite recipes is just one way by which I hope more people will get excited about baking, and contribute their own subjective touch for everyone’s benefit!

Do you have a favourite recipe in The French Baker?

Most of the recipes are dear to me, but I really like making the Moroccan orange and almond flourless cake. It’s a perfect example of what baking is about; incredibly simple to make, perfect flavour combination and just so moist and tasty. It’s the best accompaniment to a strong cup of coffee or a tea in the morning. (Stay tuned, because we’ll be sharing the recipe right here on hashtagtherocks.com very soon!)

La Renaissance is an icon of The Rocks. What is your favourite thing about the area?

La Renaissance has been part of The Rocks long before I bought into the business, but what I can tell you about the area is that it is perfectly aligned with our business – particularly in terms of the look and feel. The Rocks precinct is also constantly evolving whilst also remaining true to its historical background – another important principle of our business. Apart from that, The Rocks is becoming more and more vibrant and fresh, with restaurants from so many different cultures, retail shops, markets and amazing large scale events like The Rocks Aroma Festival.

What are your plans for the future?

Honestly, I would like to continue doing what I have been so fortunate in doing so far, working in a great business with a great team, getting excited to make the best possible desserts for our clientele.

La Renaissance Patisserie and Cafe
47 Argyle Street
The Rocks
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