Chef and Owner at Cocoa Patisserie and Julien Plumart Boutique
Beginning his career at an early age, under the watchful eye of his father, Julien embarked on his quest for perfection. Over the last 20 years, Julien has trained and worked in top establishments; recently accredited to ‘L’Ecole de la Pattisserie Lenotre Paris, for his advanced macaron training and years of experience, including training and working alongside renowned Raymond Blanc.
What is your favourite food to cook with?
Without doubt chocolate; I’m a huge fan of dark chocolate, it’s more than an ingredient it’s an amazing medicine full of antioxidants and mood enhancing properties.
Just like wine, chocolate can deliver an array of flavours, from soft and gentle to warming and spicy notes.
It’s one ingredient that can easily take on and handle other strong flavours from delicate spices to hot chilli, soft fruits to punchy citrus. It is also wonderful with meat; it can add wonderful bitter earthy tones to a dish particularly good with beef, duck and venison.
70% dark chocolate is my favourite; it’s bold yet rounded and combines perfectly with the freshness and acidity of passion fruit for example. I use this combination extensively in our macaron selection.
We use Valrhona chocolate in our kitchens; they are masters when it comes to chocolate. They come out with something new every 6 months which is really exciting for me as a pastry chef – the possibilities are endless. Honestly, I wouldn’t use anything else.
Did you cook when you were growing up?
I grew up in my parent’s restaurant in the countryside near the French Alps. I have so many wonderful memories, smells and noises from my childhood.
My first cooking lesson happen when I was about 4 or 5 years old. I was asking mum & dad to come and play football outside with me; of course they were busy running the restaurant. So my dad decided to make me stand up on a chair beside him.
He handed me a ball of sweet paste, a bunch of apples and 4 tart tins. To keep me occupied he asked me to kneed the paste, roll it out, line the tin, peel and slice the apples and fill. I probably spent between 2-3 hours doing this, I loved it.
We cooked the apple tarts and shared them with the staff. Everybody congratulated me on my efforts, but honestly, they were as hard as rock!
Quick tip – don’t over kneed pastry. I remember this like it was yesterday, that was really the defining moment for me.
As I got older and the restaurant became ever more popular I would cook dinner for me and my sister after school, so I guess really my career started at 11 with 2 covers 5 days a week.
Where were you trained?
I’ve trained in a few different places; the most noted would be the High National Pastry School of Issingeaux where I completed my master’s degree.
I was 19 years old when entered; I had just finished my chocolate and sweet specialisation. It’s a unique place the teachers are known as “MOF” (Best Pastry Craftsman in France), the highest distinction in our trade. Learning from professionals of this caliber was a real gift and I made sure I learnt and understood every techniques, recipes and tricks.
We were so passionate about learning that we would often go back in the kitchen after diner to do more chocolate painting, sugar pulling until way after midnight.
2 years of training culminated in a 2 day exam proving to a tough jury that you were capable of producing everything from chocolate to pastry, individual sweets to cakes, and ice sculptures to artistic sugar pieces to the highest level.
I’m really proud as only 6 of us received the master’s degree; I worked so hard and loved every minute of it.
I would definitely recommend this place, however, be prepared to do nothing but pastry for 2 years