A French Pastry Chef Elevates Chocolate To New Heights In New York

francois payard chocolate egg

Photo: Abby Rogers/Business Insider

Don’t expect to see a big, industrial kitchen when you walk into François Payard‘s Houston Street bakery in lower Manhattan.”Everything is handmade,” said Payard, a pastry chef who honed his skills in the kitchens of Le Bernardin and Daniel, and later opened a string of patisseries around the globe. The SoHo bakery, which opened in 2010, is his latest project.

When we stopped by the shop on a recent morning, Payard voiced his disapproval of creating chocolate with machinery.

“It doesn’t look like special things,” he said of mass-produced chocolate. “Really, chocolate is always a gift.”

To celebrate that gift, he constantly designs new ways to showcase his products. Every year for Easter, Payard creates a special collection of eggs.

“The idea is to make something special,” he said.

This year’s theme is safari. He’s created a zebra-striped chocolate egg, as well as a cheetah-print egg, in hopes to bring notoriety to the symbol of the season.

“In America, it’s not about the eggs,” he said. “In France, it’s all about the eggs.”

But Payard isn’t a one-trick pony. He’s as known for his macarons as he is for chocolate. And to celebrate the macaron, which he lauds as an “elegant” treat, he organised Macaron Day, which takes place on March 20th to celebrate the start of spring. Participating bakeries gave away a free confection to anyone who stopped by.

“The idea is to promote the macaron,” he said. “Everybody has to be their own food critic.”

Now take an all-you-can-eat walking tour of the Lower East Side >

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