A native of Toulouse, France, Chef Eric Bertoia has a resume that boasts a host of impressive hotels and restaurants on both the old and new continent, among them the Ritz Hotel Escoffier in Paris and Daniel Boulud’s Dinex Group restaurants. Today, as technician pastry chef of Paris Gourmet, he shares his expertise with professional pastry chefs across the country. In anticipation of his upcoming CAPS course at ICE on April 30th, Entremets and Plated Desserts, we asked Chef Eric a few questions about his current role, his experience working for Daniel Boulud and his recommended food destinations.
Can you tell us a little bit about Paris Gourmet?
Established in 1983, Paris Gourmet is a leading specialty food importer and distributor of gourmet and pastry ingredients from all over the world.
The Paris Gourmet Education Center conducts continuing education classes for chefs and restaurant staff, and researches and develops products in pursuit of quality and innovation. Paris Gourmet is also extremely active in trade events and chef competitions.
What do you do in your role as “technician pastry chef” at Paris Gourmet?
At Paris Gourmet, we have an education center and test kitchen. We have classes for groups and one-on-one classes for professional pastry chefs working in hotels, casinos, restaurants and catering. As technician pastry chef, my primary focus is teaching these chefs how to use our products and demonstrating techniques. We conduct demonstrations in our kitchen and all over the United States, and very often work with restaurants and hotels to change their menus. Every month we have new products with which we create and test new recipes. We also host the annual U.S. Pastry Competition and lend support and advise Pastry Team USA for the Pastry World Cup in Lyon.
Tell us about your experience working for Chef Daniel Boulud’s restaurant group, Dinex Group.
I was the corporate pastry chef for Dinex Group, managing and supervising the pastry departments of 15 restaurants and the two retail stores. I was overseeing operations in New York, Palm Beach, Miami, Las Vegas, Montreal, Toronto, London and Singapore. Every restaurant in the Dinex Group has a unique concept: bistro, brasserie, gastronomic, Mediterranean, plus catering. As corporate pastry chef, I was rotating between each site and was responsible for creating menus for launching new locations — organizing the department, training pastry chefs and staff and explaining the company’s expectations.
What do you miss most about working in restaurants full-time?
What I miss the most is that all the restaurants had a different level or theme of gastronomy, from the bistro to the retail store. The task of creating a concept and menu for each made it challenging.
What do you find to be one of the biggest challenges when teaching techniques on plated desserts versus other types of desserts?
One of the biggest challenges is to maintain consistency, in terms of plating, aesthetic, texture, temperature and, most importantly, taste. An emphasis on the freshness of ingredients is another important point in my classes.
Can you offer some food destination recommendations for our students and readers?
In New York, the bakery products are all well done, from viennoiserie to bread. Minneapolis has the classic American comfort foods and it offers global cuisine like Greek and Vietnamese, plus high-quality pastry shops like Patisserie 46. Lima, Peru — amazing seafood, quinoa, beef and others specialty products. Berlin, Germany — here you can find great local restaurants and Turkish/Middle Eastern cuisine. In Singapore, you can find Chinese, Malaysian and Indian food that’s representative of the ethnic diversity of the local population, as well as European and American cuisine.
Don’t miss the opportunity to perfect your plated desserts with Chef Eric – click here to register today!