At the crack of dawn on a wet, gloomy Wednesday, I woke up with a heart thumping feeling at the thought of our maiden visit to the salon of Jacques Génin, located in heart of the Marais district in Paris. For those not in the know, chef Génin is a modern-day, self-taught “madman” of French chocolate, caramels and pates de fruits, and also very much famous for his resplendent millefeuille and tart pastries. Regarded as one of the best chocolatiers in France (he was formerly head pâtissier at the La Maison du Chocolat institution), Génin is a man so obsessed with crafting the perfect chocolate that in 2013 he announced he would no longer be making pastries to focus on his chocolates – a news that crumbled the hearts of dessert connoisseurs around the world. Alas, hungry pleas for leniency were heard and the decision to reinstate selected pastries for dining-in was made soon after. Here we were, several years later on, standing outside his salon minutes before the store shutters opened at 11am, stomachs readied to feast.
It was a wonderful feeling being the first in the store to be served a made-to-order millefeuille, which was the very reason that led me to discover Génin’s work in the first place. I love the thousand layers of crumbly, buttery pastry and smooth vanilla cream. The dessert stayed perfectly intact when sliced (it did not crumble to a million pieces and served as proof that it was a well-formed millefeuille) and was still warm when it arrived at the table. The limited menu includes the lemon basil tart, which lived up to its reputation and did not disappoint. The tart had a well-balanced lemon cream that was neither too sweet nor sour, and a firm (but not hard!) baked pastry base. With a hot coffee to go along and the background noise of the master working his staff and creations in the chocolate ‘factory’ a level above the dining room, it was an afternoon that felt like every gourmand’s sweet-toothed, Parisian dream.
The chocolate bonbons – we only tried a handful of flavours – were good, beautifully scented and light tasting. They come in many flavours, including mint, basil and praline-rosemary. But our favourite are still the bolder tasting chocolates from (MOF) Patrick Roger, which were a top 10 favourite last year.
Save for the somewhat uptight service, hand me a plane ticket to Paris and I would gladly return to the salon for another afternoon of buttery pastry decadence. Chef Génin is a genius in his craft and here I am, keeping me fingers, knife and fork crossed that his pastries remain a mainstay on the menu.
133 Rue de Turenne, 75003 Paris, France
Opening Hours: 11:00 to 19:00. Closed on Monday.