Aside from eating the stuff where does a guy obsessed with baking, with a special place in his stomach for macarons and chocolate, go to feed his habit in Paris. If that describes you in any small way then I know the perfect place to visit, the kitchens of Gerard Mulot. “Meet the French” is a pretty standard tour group although their specialty appears to be food, but it isn’t their standard tours that interested me it was their unique behind the scenes visits to some pretty interesting places. From the boulangerie Au Grand Richelieu to Fabien Nobile a mens fashion designer. Amongst the varied choices one stood out and that was obviously the pastry and chocolate kitchens at Gerard Mulot. For only €11 we got to spend an hour and a half talking with the patisserie chef and the chocolatier. There was plenty of freebies and things to try, actually more than €11’s worth. The tour is small and intimate; only 5 people were on mine and it felt like the perfect size. We talked longest with the patisserie chef who is almost solely responsible for the massive macaron output for the company, and that’s a big deal because they make 16 tons worth a year.
The chef has worked for Mulot for 35 years but he only started making the macarons in his 30’s, he works to his own recipe, which is constantly tweaked depending on the quality of the ground almonds they can get. Whilst we were obviously not given the recipe we were told and saw a lot of interesting things. The batter is literally mixed by hand, the chef put his arm almost all the way up to his shoulder into a huge mixing bowl mixing the batter to the right consistency. Since he makes the macarons alone they are piped by a machine, they use a French meringue and bake at 165C for 12-13 mins, with an open steam vent (which confirms Pierre Hermes method of opening the oven to release the steam). The chef was such a jovial guy, very friendly to a bunch of tourists invading his kitchen.
As you walk into the chocolate kitchen you are immediately hit with a waft of cocoa and it’s a little overwhelming, in a good way of course. The chocolatier was again very friendly and talked us through the chocolate making process whilst regularly giving us samples of different couvertures and a fair few of their own chocolate creations. We tried feuilletine, tarragon, caramel and the third place winner in the Paris best chocolate competition, which was a very nice blackberry concoction.
Both chefs we met were so friendly and kind with their knowledge their time and of course their produce. The kitchen isn’t exactly in central Paris but its well worth the trip out to the 13th arrondissement to attend the tour. It is one the more unique things I did on the trip and also one of my favourite things too. For someone like me who loves baking and loves eating French patisserie this is a perfect way to spend a couple of hours.