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An Interview with Raphaële Marchal, Food Writer Extraordinaire & Author of À La Folie

Raphaële Marchal A La Folie Book

À La Folie, Stéphane de Bourgies

If there’s one name to know in Paris’ fizzing new food scene, it’s that of Raphaële Marchal. Contributing writer to the all-things-sugar magazine, Fou de Pâtisserie, and the Parisian’s go-to guide for young and creative cuisine, Le Fooding, the 26 year-old also runs her own successful food blog, En Rang d’Oignons, and contributes to many of the gastronomic events in Paris.

With names like Pierre Hermé and Jacques Genin in her iPhone contacts, it’s no wonder that Raphaële decided to write a book on pastries. À La Folie, released in Paris on November 10, presents 60 pastry chefs and their signature creations alongside the most exquisite (and mouthwatering!) photos from David Bonnier and Antoine Pesch. With recipes from Christophe Adam’s caramel éclairs to Yann Couvreur’s impeccable millefeuille, to Jacques Génin’s zesty lemon and basil tart, À La Folie is 100% sweet and oh-so Parisian.

Want to impress your husband with your culinary flair? Polish up on your French (an English translation of the book is in the works) and pull out the old KitchenAid. Ethereal Parisian pastries are your well-deserved reward.

We sat down with Raphaële over lunch at AG Les Halles to discuss her favorite sweets, her go-to pastry shops in Paris, and her Montmartre neighborhood.

Raphaële Marchal A La Folie Book

À La Folie

Let’s start with the question we’re all dying to ask. What’s your favorite pastry shop in Paris?

Well I know I always say him but Jacques Genin is literally my favorite ever of all time. It’s just exactly the kind of cakes that I like. He was a cook before he was a pastry chef, so he’s got this way of making cakes that really puts tastes above everything else. And I know every pastry chef claims he does as well but he’s really the only one to actually do it this way. He doesn’t put looks before taste ever. Maybe the fact that he’s such a great man as well helps. But his pastries are just the best I’ve ever had.

In terms of new ones I do love Utopie. They’re in the book as well. Erwan Blanche and Sébastien Bruno are two really cool guys and their pastries are awesome. They’re less polished and more creative. Jacques Genin is very one-taste, straightforward, and these guys are a bit more crazy and I love it.

I love Mokonuts. And I really like Sébastien Dégardin, Jonathan Blot (Acide Macaron) and Cédric Grolet (Le Meurice).

Raphaële Marchal A La Folie Book

À La Folie

What is your all-time favorite restaurant in Paris?

L’Ami Jean, obviously. My answers are boring because it’s always the same places. Maybe one day I’ll have better food somewhere else and then I’ll change my answers. Stéphane Jego has become kind of like a dad for me in this world. I met him when I was nineteen and I think he was the first one to reassure me with going this way. Seeing him cooking made me, more than cooking, want to talk about the chefs who cook. I’ve been maybe 45 times.

Your most memorable dessert?

Cedric Grolet’s dessert with pineapple, avocado, espelette chili, olive oil, coconut, and pineapple sherbet. I think this is my absolute favorite dessert on earth. I’ve had the former version three years ago at Le Meurice and now he’s evolved the dessert over the years. It’s just my favorite ever. All the temperatures, all the textures, it’s sour, there’s absolutely no sugar, but it’s sweet.

Raphaële Marchal A La Folie Book

À La Folie

Tell us about your neighborhood in Montmartre. What’s your go-to pastry shop, wine bar, and neighborhood bistrot?

I’ve only been living in Montmartre for about two months. Pain Pain is literally 12 meters from my apartment. It is fantastic. I’ve rarely had such good pastries for such a good price. You can sit there, there’s four seats inside, and have fresh orange juice and coffee. I usually do savory in the mornings so I’ll have a gougère. They make giant gougères and they’re so good. They also make an opéra cake. Right now they make it with yuzu. In summer it’s with raspberries and in winter I think it will be mangos. Really good. He makes a chocolate bread. It’s exactly like a baguette but with cacao in it. Really dark bread and so good. All the cakes are brilliant. Pain Pain is my ultimate. He’s not in the book unfortunately. I think I was too late asking. And obviously my second neighborhood pastry shop, about three minutes from my place, is Pâtisserie Gilles Marchal up rue Ravignan. It’s perfect.

I’m not sure my neighborhood is the best for wine bars. I go to Cave à Michel in the 10th all the time. I wouldn’t choose it out of all the wine bars in Paris, but one that’s a three-minute walk from me is the Persifleur.

Le Grand 8 on rue Lamarck is my favorite bistrot in the quartier. I love it so much.

Raphaële Marchal A La Folie Book

À La Folie

We’re curious to know about your life in Paris. What do 24 hours in the life of Raphaële look like?

While I was writing the book,  I was up every morning at 7:30. I live in Abbesses and the shooting was at rue Rodier in the 9th, which is about twenty minutes walk from me. So every morning I walked down rue de Martyrs. It was July so it was the exact time when it wasn’t too hot yet in the morning. I walked past Café Marlette and I always had the same juice every morning during the two weeks of the shooting. It was spinach, green apple, and ginger. And then I had another ten minutes walk from Marlette and it was the perfect time to drink my juice. And then I got to the shooting, said hi to everyone, and had a coffee and a piece of cake from the shooting of the day before with the rest of the studio.

Usually at 9am we were supposed to have the first cake delivery. I don’t think any of them was ever on time so 9 every morning was stress hour. That’s when I started texting the pastry chefs but since we had no signal in the studio I had to go out onto rue Rodie and it was so hot outside. So I was calling everyone, and they responded like “Oh yeah I’m on my way,” or “Oh we don’t know where he is,” or “Oh I forgot.”

And then the first cakes arrived. This was the funny part because basically there was a photographer, and he had a stylist and he job is to basically make the cake look as good as possible. How do we cut it? How do we make sure the praliné runs out nicely? That was the tricky part. During the shooting I would interview the pastry chef for the book and make sure that he would send me the recipe. Which was always the worst because sometimes they would send a piece of paper that they’ve taken a photo of with their iPhone and you have a list of ingredients with absolutely no explanation and you’re like — great!

And then at lunch time we usually went to this little Thai place down the road. It was really good and we always had lunch in the little courtyard. I always ordered the green papaya salad and a stir fried Thai-style rice with coconut ginger and chicken or shrimp. Very Thai.

And then the rest of the day was more photos and more interviewing. Usually at night either dinner with friends to eat the rest of the pastries or writing the text for the book or a movie night.

What’s next for you?

I do want to do a fun comic book with anecdotes about Paris restaurants and chefs and gastronomy, but this is still just an idea.

My dream, if I had a magic wand, would be to entertain a food show. Like one of the fun shows you see on TV. Really chill. And it wouldn’t only be interviewing chefs. It could also be someone who wrote a great book about how to make your own beer. A great wine bar in Paris. A great cheesemaker. A great butcher. A great tapas place in Spain. Just all about food, wine, everything from all over the world. Check back in a few years!

Raphaële Marchal A La Folie Book

À La Folie, Lucky Miam

Related Links

  • À La Folie would make a lovely Christmas gift. Here we share some of our other favorite cadeaux ideas this holiday season.
  • Fou de Pâtisserie is one of our favorite destinations for some of Paris’ best pastries. Read our review of the boutique here.
  • Galignani is one of Paris’ most iconic bookstores, located on rue de Rivoli. Discover more here, and then head along to peruse the vast collection, and pick up a copy of À La Folie.

Written by Emma Brode for HiP Paris. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, London, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven In.

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Written by Emma Brode

Emma BrodeEmma’s love for France began at the age of three when her aunt bought her an adorable gilet and skirt from Paris. Since then she’s jumped at every chance to explore Europe. She spends her weekdays studying (and tasting!) food and wine in Paris and travels on the weekends with her German husband. Check out @emmarosebrode on Instagram for her favorite restaurants in Paris and beyond.

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