(This article appeared in the Spring 2021 issue of Pastry Arts Magazine)
Chances are, you may already know who Amaury Guichon is if you’re on social media. With over three million Instagram followers and counting, his innovative desserts and showpieces continue to amaze with each post, from edible coffee grinders and perfume bottles to masterfully built motorcycles. He constantly pushes the boundaries of pastry design, but he doesn’t develop these items just for show. Through his behind-the-scenes footage and his work directly with students at his Pastry Academy in Las Vegas, he aims to share his knowledge and creativity with the world in hopes to inspire the same passion in others. But even after watching every video he posts, you may still wonder, just how does he do it? Here’s a glimpse into the world of Amaury Guichon, to see what makes the man who made a grandfather clock out of 115 pounds of chocolate tick.
Being at the forefront of pastry design wasn’t Guichon’s original path. He began his career on the savory side of the kitchen at the age of 14, studying at the Ecole Hoteliere Savoie Leman in France. “The savory sector did not satisfy my passion for the culinary arts and thus I decided to move back to Switzerland to pursue training in pastry,” explains Guichon, a move that would prove successful almost immediately. He attended Wolsberg College where he was awarded first place in the Apprentice Chocolate Showpiece Contest, followed by winning the gold medal of “Best Apprentice in France” ill de France while at Lenotre. After several years honing his skills in Cannes and Paris in leadership and executive roles, he flew across the pond for the chance to shine in the bright lights of Las Vegas in 2014.
“I adore the fact that creativity in pastry is not restricted by rules.”
It was during his tenure at Jean-Philippe Patisserie in Las Vegas that a whole new path began. While helping to revamp the menu offerings and working on numerous showpieces for the company, Guichon began to share them on social media. The videos highlighting how the creations were made became particularly popular, garnering thousands and eventually millions of views. It was then that he decided to form his own company focusing on consulting and teaching, and in 2017, the Pastry Academy was born.
The Pastry Academy offers a ten-week program to teach fundamentals and advanced skills. To ensure students have a complete understanding, Guichon injects something he feels is missing in a lot of other programs. “Before going into the classroom, for each module, we sit in our auditorium with our students and go in depth about the science of pastry, so that they can have a complete understanding of what they are about to practice and learn.” He also offers separate masterclasses on such topics as chocolate showpieces, for those looking to get one step closer to achieving that same level of precision that made him go viral.
But even with the mastery of pastry skills, it still takes a certain je ne sais quoi to be that creative and innovative. He is often asked how he conceptualizes an idea. “This is the most common question I receive, and there is no answer to it. In my opinion, inspiration can take many forms and exist all around us.” Though it is hard to pinpoint the exact method he uses to develop his creations, everything starts with a sketch and is tested multiple times to get the right execution. Above all, the key is determination. “I always find a way to take an idea to an actual product, only the time I put in varies. I never give up!”
“I always find a way to take an idea to an actual product, only the time I put in varies. I never give up!”
Though he relies on his extensive pastry training and knowledge, he does draw on methods of other industries, from wood carving to glass blowing and even construction and architecture. “You just need to take a look at my work to understand that I borrow and adapt an incredible amount of techniques from many different fields,” he notes. While his Bamix hand blender is crucial to texture and emulsifying, he points to his pottery wheel and wood lathe as two non-food related tools he enjoys the most while creating. Often, glimpses of his many tricks flash on his feed, from snipped kitchen sponges to repurposed plastic drinking straws. The inspiration is endless. “I adore the fact that creativity in pastry is not restricted by rules. You can set free your imagination and develop amazing work inspired by a flavor, an ingredient or an idea.”
As for those preferred ingredients, they remain very straightforward for chocolate showpieces, relying on dark and white chocolate for the base pieces and cocoa butter for paint. But for his plated desserts and other creations, he can experiment with different ingredients and flavor combinations. His incredibly realistic Desk Lamp, for instance, featured a black sesame roll cake in its base and crunchy caramelized sesame hidden in the light bulb. Certainly complex in its construction, it was actually the flavor execution he found particularly satisfying. “It was a new approach for me because for the first time, I created a satisfying product using a flavor I usually do not fancy.” Flavor isn’t always such a challenge, of course. His Mont-Blanc featured a combination of black currant and chestnut, eliciting his own drool emoji response. It relies on the vanilla chestnut puree from Les Vergers Boiron to make the flavor profile shine. “I never have to worry about consistency or quality, I can just go ahead and build my dessert.”
Guichon doesn’t quite let on to what tricks he might have up his sleeve for the future. There are no current plans to expand the Pastry Academy beyond its current size and location. He prefers to focus on “high quality exclusive classes to be able to give the best pastry education to whoever is passionate enough to join us.” But he assures everyone, “great things will happen at the end of the year 2021!” No doubt, whatever that may be, he’ll have millions of viewers swiping left to find out how he did it.
Photos by Fiona Guichon
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