Pastry Chef at Grand Hotel (Cap Ferrat, France)
|Raised in Dinard, France, a coastal town Brittany, Damien Gendron has butter in his bones. After high school, he studied cuisine at Le Centre de Formation d’Apprentis in nearby Ploufragan, earning his professional baccalaureate in food services in 2011 and an honorary degree in plated desserts in 2012. Degree in hand, Gendron moved to Courchevel in the Rhône-Alpes for a job at Le Chabichou, a high-end mountain resort. Next, he traveled farther south to the French Riviera and the Grand-Hotel du Cap Ferrat, Four Seasons, to work under Luc Debove, Meilleur Ouvrier de France Glacier. Rising to pastry sous chef, Gendron has also taken on the competition circuit, winning the prestigious Champion de France du Dessert in March 2016 for his creation “Yasmina.” Energetic and focused on perfection and originality, Gendron is thrilled to be competing on the international stage, representing France in the Valhrona C3 international finale.|
INTERVIEW WITH DAMIEN GENDRON
VALRHONA: Tell us about your pastry style? Who or what are your biggest influences?
First of all, I want to create an original pastry, surprise my guests by the visual, and to provide emotion as they savor the first morsel of my pastry! I am inspired by all the little things that surround me in my life. It could be the architecture, nature, modern art. I also draw inspiration from magazines (especially design magazines), as shapes can give me new ideas for pastry. I develop ideas and try to add my personal touch, to be unique.
VALRHONA: What’s your favorite dessert that you’ve ever made?
My ‘Yasmina’ dessert, which is comprised of jasmine, lemon, pineapple, and milk chocolate. Recently I had the opportunity to participate in the French Plated Dessert Championship, and capture the first step on the podium. I wanted to bring forward my feminine side.
VALRHONA: What was your first job in pastry?
My first experience in pastry was at Valence in France, with Pastry Chef Anne-Sophie Pic. I discovered subtlety and delicacy; to get her own style, she mixes different products that only she is able to imagine.
VALRHONA: Who are some of your mentors? What have you learned from them?
Luc Debove. I learned a lot during my professional experience by his side. He has a lot of technique, and he was generous enough to share all of his skills with me. Philippe Rigollot is a discreet chef, amd I would love to work with him. I'm really impressed by his adaptability. And of course, I used to work in pastry shops and in restaurants with Jerome Chaucesse. He coaching me for this competition. I really love his plated desserts, and I am so grateful to have him by my side.
VALRHONA: What is your planned training regimen for the competition?
I train during my days off and during the evening after my shifts. I also play a lot of sports in order to take my mind off things.
VALRHONA: What’s your most important kitchen rule?
I think the most important thing is to stay true to myself. Humility is an important quality to have, and to be rigorous and organized, and listening and communicating with my team.
VALRHONA: How do you feel about representing your country at the International Finale of the Valrhona C3?
I feel so proud to represent the French culture, which is famous for gastronomy. It’s an honor to represent the colors of the French Pastry. I am looking forward to being at the C3 Competition and showing my creations the board of examiners.
VALRHONA: Why do you think you are the potential winner?
We are all motivated, and I think we would all like to represent our country. However, I hope my personal touch, my hard work, and my passion for the pastry will make a difference.
VALRHONA: How does the theme (the 30 years of Guanaja 70%) inspire you?
I am more than happy that Valrhona chose this chocolate because I really enjoy working with this quality of chocolate because of its unique flavor. This chocolate will perfectly match with my dessert, and I appreciate the chocolate for its power and its full-rounded flavor.
VALRHONA: What is your favorite quote you will try to keep in mind for the competition ?
Never give up your goal, even when you meet difficulty.
VALRHONA: What would it mean to you to win the competition ?
If I win the competition, I will be so proud to have represented France. It would also be a highlight for my career. I will meet pastry chefs and learn from them. I like the ambiance in the competition, that it allows me to show what I am able to do under pressure. It’s good way to push the limits.