A day in the kitchens at Matignon with Gaël Clavière

31 October 2019
Gaël Clavière - Institut Culinaire de France 2
As the head pastry chef in the kitchens of Hôtel de Matignon for almost 15 years, Gaël Clavière has worked for six different prime ministers. He tells us about his daily life and shares some of his favourite recipes with us.

What is a typical day like for the head pastry chef at the prime minister’s residence?

I wake up every day at 6:15 am. I don't start until 7:30 am, but I take my time to listen to music, think about my day, make a to-do list; I try to be at least two or three weeks ahead of the desserts I'm going to make so that I can place orders. I make different ones every day with two pastry chefs and two apprentices. On average, we make between 80 and 400 desserts per day, between staff and members of the cabinet. For the staff, these are desserts which are called boutique desserts, like chocolate pies or apple pies. For councillors and the cabinet, on the other hand, they are more like plated desserts. We start to put the desserts in place after 7:30 am, and I finish my days between 4 pm and 5 pm.

On average, we make between 80 and 400 desserts per day

What is on the menu at Hôtel de Matignon?

Yesterday, for example, I made a fine citrus tart with a fromage blanc and sudachi sorbet and a meringue with five citrus fruits. I would describe it as a very small disk of sweet pastry, a caramel glazed with citrus juice, a mascarpone mousse with caramelised hazelnuts and a confit of mixed citrus zest, with a sorbet and a fine lemon zest meringue.

But I might also do a classic dessert, like a fraisier, with an almond base that is a little bit finer, an infusion with Sansho berry and a light mousseline cream with vanilla.

Would you say it was more of a traditional or modern dessert?

I don't really like to talk about revised classics, but let's say that I take classic recipes, I reduce the sugar and I reinterpret them. I really like working with citrus fruits, which bring a multitude of possibilities.

Can you share an anecdote with us about something that had an impact on you?

There are lots of little things… There are anecdotes every day at Matignon. For example, I made a pretty explosive dessert for an official meal—an apple with blown sugar in the shape of a sphere for the Grand Duke of Luxembourg. The guests were surprised because they didn't know how to eat it, but as soon as the plates were set, the spheres exploded like a painting—it was great. These are great moments, because that is also part of our job: to surprise people and move them with our creations.

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