Kitchen Rhythm: A Year in a Parisian Pâtisserie

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At 5.37 a.m. my alarm goes off for the first time. By 6.09 a.m. I will be waiting on the metro platform. By 6.27 a.m. I pull open the swing door and duck under the pink curtain of the pâtisserie. I am probably last. In our tiny bakery on the other side of Paris, our cakes are made in the early morning, to preserve that freshness and crunch.

Following in the footsteps of Rachel Khoo, Frances Leech has been lured to the city of love by puff pastry. For the past year she has worked in a small little French-Japanese pâtisserie where margins are small and the pressure is on. On any given day this small bakery uses 100 passionfruit and coconut mousses, 18 kg of chestnut and rum paste for Mont-Blanc tarts alone.

Frances trains alongside her Japanese colleagues perfecting meringues, passionfruit mousse, millefeuille and sticky caramel as well as a working knowledge of idiomatic Japanese. She feels incompetent, clumsy, tall and gets burned a lot. But her colleagues are patient and kind and she learns to love the art of pastry, despite the early mornings.