Park Hyatt Tokyo in metropolitan Shinjuku welcomed French Executive Pastry Chef Julien Perrinet in December. After his three-week quarantine hibernation in the luxury hotel which there was “nothing to complain about,” he has been bursting forth with ideas and hatching new creations for the next chapter in his life.
Perrinet is from Brittany in France, but now he feels “more Asian than French.” He knew he wanted to become a pastry chef at the age of 12 when he was cooking with his mother. It was an easy decision for him, “Savory or sweets, sweets!” He graduated with honors from St Joseph Pastry and Bakery School in Concarneau. Last year, he was invited back to his hometown school to give a talk, where the teacher was his former classmate. He recalls being anxious to attend the school which only starts for students aged 14 and older. His classmate remembered Perrinet never missing their open house and was almost too passionate.
Perrinet continued his culinary pursuits in Paris at the age of 18, then in Canada, Qatar, the Maldives, Beijing and Singapore where he opened Joël ROBUCHON & L’Atelier ROBUCHON followed by the opening of TWG Tea Company. His first visit to Asia was in Indonesia where his brother was assigned to the French embassy. This is when he discovered Asia and fell in love with Asian culture. His previous post was Executive Pastry Chef at Grand Hyatt Taipei before arriving in Tokyo.
His Tonka Bean Cheese Tart is sublime. The inside is fromage blanc based, creamy but light, not too sweet, with an insinuation of white wine and hazelnuts. Grated Tonka beans, a strong aromatic seed of a tree from a South American rainforest, on the top made me close my eyes. The scent is like smoked vanilla, and is popularly known as an “aphrodisiac” among culinary experts. Perrinet’s creations are “almost sugar-free, but if there (must be) sugar, I balance it with something sour or anything non-sweet.” He mainly uses brown sugar coconut Malaysian Gula Menaka (palm sugar).
His signature item is the Sakura Lace which comes from the taco shape but is basically a tart. Taco sable made of Parmesan cheese brings saltiness and crispiness while sitting between them are vanilla namelaka (smooth) cream, raspberry and strawberry jelly infused with sakura green tea, iced with peach glaze, topped with mini chous, and accented with strawberry jam ruby chocolate. Messy eaters need not to worry because Sakura Lace is recommended to be eaten with your hand. Last year, this craftwork made it on the cover of Le Journal Du Patissier, a bible for pastry chefs.
Perrinet’s new opus for Japanese taste with local products kicks off with Citrus Dacquoise. The artwork is beautiful, almost a shame to disintegrate on one’s palette, but the guilt trip is soon gone after the amazing first bite. The aroma of lemon, lime, and yuzu cream is so refreshing, topped with local citrus fruits such as grapefruit, Setoka mikan, hyuganatsu (and its skin) and caramelized hazelnuts. The balance of luscious sourness and natural sweetness is methodical and the Dacquoise gives a delightful chewy texture. When he saw my facial expression filled with compliments, Perrinat grinned and stated what says it all, “I have to like the cake I make.”
In contrast, his Strawberry Tart is as “simple as it should be,” he says, “because I want to know what I am eating.” Each segment is refined - sable dough, almond cream, icing, a bit of raspberry sourness, topped with white chocolate shaped in margaret flowers. His first and foremost rule is “generous.” I agree that cakes are meant to be shared, and so is the happiness that comes with them.
Perrinet saids his inspiration is everywhere. “I love to walk around here because I want to find something related to the hotel. I feel it’s important to (incorporate) the hotel identity.” When I asked how he likes Japanese food, “I never had a bad meal in Japan and I love Japanese food. Tonkatsu is one of my favorites.”
He plans to keep a low profile and not do anything too crazy at the beginning, and go with great but simple and straightforward products to showcase his kawaii artistry. Based on customer feedback, he says, “I will see if I can be more creative.” His next approach could involve shiso, caramelized soba (buckwheat), or matcha. Let’s keep a close eye on Julien Perrinet’s evolution at Park Hyatt Tokyo.© RikiWeb