Ten minutes with David Girard, the executive pastry chef at The Dorchester
Meeting David, the executive pastry chef of the Dorchester, was a big pleasure. It should have been a ten minutes meeting, but he was so overwhelmed with his passion for the pastry, his love for the Dorchester hotel … He took me through all the hidden corridors for the staff to show me all the jewels this hotel has to offer – all the glamorous halls and the lovely rooftop terrace where he prepared two of his chocolate desserts and where we took the photos. David feels at home in the middle of glamour. Relaxed, open and very kind, he shares with us his story.
How would you introduce yourself?
I’m a pastry chef who really loves food. I have been in this industry for 17 years. I am passionate, hard working and I specially love to work with young talents. But my greatest pleasure is seeing my guests impressed and happy after they have enjoyed our creations. That’s the beauty of our job – we make people happy.
What is your secret desire/ambition?
I should respond to this because then it will not be a secret any more … 😉
I would like to educate people about the real art of pastry – all those good and simple things. It is so lovely to teach people and to see the results of your teaching. Specially those from the countries that are just opening themselves to the world. They have excellent ingredients, but the desserts in those countries are pretty basic. It may take quite some time, but it is really lovely to have such a cultural exchange.
What is your ultimate dream?
Probably the MOF (Meilleur Ouvrier de France). It is the most precious and highest achievement you can get as a pastry chef. It is a great challenge for every chef. And it is quite an investment – it requires about 2 to 3 years of daily training.
What is your greatest achievement?
I’m pretty happy with my career. I became a head pastry chef at the age of 24 and a corporate pastry chef at the age of 27. And now as the executive pastry chef at the Dorchester I also can’t complain. 🙂
And your greatest challenge?
My greatest challenge was the Dorchester gingerbread house. I have never done that before. We decided to do a proper reproduction of the Dorchester hotel. We have been working four months on this and have collaborated with an architect who made the plan. We had to cut and reshape seven thousand pieces of gingerbread one by one. I was working on this together with two of my colleagues, but you have to know that we also had to do our usual work. On the last day we were working 32 hours. But I am really terribly proud of the result.
What/who is inspiring you?
My main mentor was Frederic Robert. I was very lucky to have worked closely with him in Monaco when he was the corporate pastry chef for the Alain Ducasse group.
It is also very inspiring to see pastry in London and around the world moving and improving. People are traveling and moving and we get to know each other internationally and we also keep in touch through social media and share our experiences and innovations.
What do you love the most about your work?
I really love the creative part. And I enjoy very much decorating.
I love the challenges. Give me a selection of ingredients and I will create a new dessert. This is such a fun!
What are your favorite flavors?
A ripe summer fruit in the season – maybe a strawberry or a melon. But sadly we can’t find very good melons in England …
How is your relation to chocolate?
Chocolate is everything – it’s love, passion, sexuality … We can cook it, model it, sculpt it, melt it … I have been learning about chocolate for so long but it still continues to surprise me and I still have so much to learn …
Chocolate is in many aspects similar to wine. The taste depends of the terroir, production, weather … everything influences the final product. Chocolate can be tannic, sweet, bitter, whatever you want – you can always find a type of chocolate that will suit you.
Which chocolate desserts are on your menu, which of them is your favourite and why?
We have a chocolate fondant, a chocolate and caramel tart, the Dorchester snickers and a few others, but my favorite is a chocolate play – a dish we do for our chef’s table. It is a pure pleasure for the chocolate lover with different textures, temperatures and flavours.
What was the best chocolate dessert that you have ever eaten and where?
I would probably decide for my mum’s chocolate mousse. It’s the flavour of my childhood – so light and rich! And I could feel the chocolate flavor all the day in my mouth.
What would be your final message for our readers?
There is so much to say about chocolate! It’s something to discover and to share. Let’s share our experiences and pleasures!
And for the end – have a look at a day in David’s life: