Claims about pastries

by on May 16, 2013 at 11:32 am in Education, Food and Drink | Permalink

Which raises a delicate question: Having already eclipsed Paris in Michelin stars, could Tokyo chefs one day eclipse the French at their own cuisine?

I put the question to pastry chef Sugino, who trained in France and is one of only four Japanese members of the prestigious Relais Desserts, an association of the world’s top pastry makers who meet regularly to exchange ideas.

Choosing his words carefully, he notes that pastry shops in France are having difficulty finding young people willing to put in the time and effort required to learn the craft. He also says that even top French patisseries are now taking shortcuts — by using stabilizers in their desserts, for instance.

“They are losing the basics,” Sugino says. “It is possible that, 10 or 20 years from now, the French will have lost the art of pastry but that it will live on in Tokyo, in Japan.”

Here is more.

david May 16, 2013 at 12:01 pm

Does Japan find it easier to find these young people?

Mike H May 16, 2013 at 12:33 pm

Yes. Food shows occupy about 35-40% of Japan’s TV programs. For them, an apprentice job in a famous restaurant is just as prestigious and desirable as working for a big corporation.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/02/26/AR2006022601299.html

As for the available number of young people, one should keep in mind that in Japan young people don’t get weekly welfare check for sitting home and do nothing. I’d say that more than enough compensated for their fewer new babies.

Dan in Euroland May 16, 2013 at 12:06 pm

Obama’s France?

Sean May 16, 2013 at 12:08 pm

Anecdotal confirmation: in 2002-2003 my Parisian neighborhood pastry shop’s “laboratoire” was consistently packed with Japanese apprentices, and I twice sat next to Japanese pastry makers flying to Paris to do a “stage.” And in business class, which might say something about who goes into pastry making there.

Frederic Mari May 16, 2013 at 12:43 pm

Peuh!

Whatever WE make, however shitty, is the TRUE French pastry. Japanese ones, no matter how good or ‘better’, can only be pale, insignificant copies…

What would those impertinent Japanese chefs thought if French were claiming to make better, more authantic sushis, eh?

Now where was that survey about French being the least pretentious people, hm?

Sunset Shazz May 16, 2013 at 2:35 pm

Frederic,

That was awesome. Well played.

Frederic Mari May 17, 2013 at 9:35 am

Thanks! Humour doesn’t always work on internet so I am glad some liked the attempt.

Rahul May 16, 2013 at 2:57 pm

Let’s see them try to make good Freedom Fries!

Doug May 16, 2013 at 3:24 pm

Fries actually originate from Belgium, not France.

Richard May 19, 2013 at 2:33 am

Just absorb Wallonia into the French state and call it a day.

Geoff Olynyk May 16, 2013 at 2:11 pm

“Choosing his words carefully, he notes that pastry shops in France are having difficulty finding young people willing to put in the time and effort required to learn the craft. He also says that even top French patisseries are now taking shortcuts — by using stabilizers in their desserts, for instance.”

Economics would say that they just need to pay more to young pastry chefs, right?

Also – not that I’m saying this is really happening, but what is the “economics 101″ treatment of an entire generation just becoming lazier? (Or to put it differently, not valuing the craft simply for the love of doing something well as much as the previous generations.) It redraws the supply curve for skilled labour to be lower quantity at all prices, right?

bluto May 16, 2013 at 3:54 pm

I’d think it would be as simple as a shock to supply. Also, I’d guess there would be fruitful study in the recently posted article exploring the economics of status from a few weeks ago (there’s a gold rush in rewards to high status men, and like men in ages past, they’re responding–unfortunately many economically rational activities don’t offer much status pay).

Floccina May 16, 2013 at 4:23 pm

Choosing his words carefully, he notes that pastry shops in France are having difficulty finding young people willing to put in the time and effort required to learn the craft

A theme of mine in MR comments has been that if we are running out of work to do in the USA (as some people say), why are there no good bakeries outside of the Northeast and a few places on the west coast. Even in the northeast the good bakeries are dying out because the children of the bakers are finding better occupations.

Relax people there is plenty of moderate skill level jobs that could be done. Replace the minimum wage, unemployment, SS and most AFDC with an income subsidy and see what happens.

dead serious May 16, 2013 at 4:58 pm

Dammit, I read pasties. Also delicious.

Fielding Mellish May 17, 2013 at 9:28 am

French pastry is wildly over rated in America (maybe Japan too). Go to Germany, Austria – even Hungary – and you will find artisan bakers in every town. And they have no love for French pastry either.

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