The fine Art of French Pâtisserie
The worthy heir to a dynasty of gastronomes, 24 year-old Aleksandre Oliver has been specialised in ‘assiette à dessert’ (dessert plate) for six years now and is starting to make himself known as an innovative and talented pastry chef in Bordeaux, France.
When I was younger I wanted to become an interior designer. I liked shapes, colours, and the fact that my creations could be used in everyday life. When I discovered ‘pâtisserie’, I discovered a profession very similar to the one of designer: in ‘pâtisserie’, shapes, colours and flavours are put together, and every element found in the plate has its own function. Like interior design, ‘pâtisserie’ requires a great deal of creativity. One must know how to surprise, how to shock both sight and palate so as to mark memories and convey emotions. It’s a limitless job.
Tell us more about your path.
I first started as a cook at ‘Café Gourmand’, the restaurant my dad ran at the time, before focusing on pâtisserie. I then enrolled at ‘Compagnons du Devoir’ for a year while following a training program at five-star Grand Hôtel in Bordeaux. That same year, I ended up 3rd at the national chocolate competition in the ‘apprentice’ category and also won the title of Aquitaine’s Best Apprentice. A few months later, I was appointed as head of pâtisserie at Dubern where I worked for a year before doing a week internship at three-star Michelin Pierre Gagnaire in Paris. Then, after spending some time in Ireland, my previous supervisor from Grand Hôtel, Laurent Costes, hired me to work at Bateau Lavoir, in Bordeaux again. For a year, I learned how to respect products, how to be creative, and how to master flavours. Afterwards I went back to Ireland to set up the pâtisserie section of a gourmet restaurant in Virginia. When I came back to Bordeaux two months later, Dubern proposed me to become the restaurant’s pastry chef, an offer I accepted. I have been working there for more than a year and a half now!
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I am considering leaving Bordeaux and perhaps go to New York, but I tend to avoid planning ahead as my job can take me anywhere at anytime, so I’ll go with the flow!
What are the 3 adjectives that would best define you?
I would say creative, rigourous, and passionate.
What is your favourite restaurant / place in Bordeaux?
‘Santosha’, without hesitation. I eat there all the time. It’s Thai, the food is always fresh and full of flavour, and the atmosphere is nice and relaxed.
What is your favourite French dish? And favourite dessert?
My favourite French dish would be ‘pot-au-feu’ and my favourite dessert would be lime tart with meringue. These dishes marked my childhood and I enjoy them with great emotion every time!
What is the first word that comes to your mind when thinking about ‘French Savoir-Vivre’?
Any advice for those who would like to work in ‘pâtisserie’?
Be extremely dedicated, rigourous and disciplined. Working in ‘pâtisserie’ is tough and requires a lot of determination. But it’s a beautiful, rewarding job that enables you to meet wonderful people, discover new things and new places… It’s definitely worth the perseverance!
Aleksandre's sweet creations can be enjoyed at Dubern in Bordeaux.
by Sophie Baron