Bonjour from Paris!
My name is tom, i'm 27 and have been living in paris for over 4 years now. I came here to learn french cuisine, patisserie and now boulangerie.
For the last 3 and a half years i have been working for the 3 michelin star chef Pierre Gagnaire in his main restaurant in paris, Rue Balzac. Here i started as a commis in the patisserie and have worked my way up to be chef de partie and 3rd in command of the pastry section, where we can have upto 9 or 10 people working. I have worked on every section in the patisserie in paris (as well as Courchevel, london and Honk Kong in other restaurants for Pierre Gagnaire) creating the very abstract and special desserts in the particular style of Pierre Gagnaire. Many people think that he is like el bulli and specialises in molecular gastronomy - they are all wrong! It is a very classical french restaurant with modern influences and many asian influences as well. It is REAL food!
But what i found most interesting is the bakery section, where the bread is VERY VERY good! For just under a year i was responsable for the bakery, producing (on my own!) several different types of bread for the 3 star restaurant at rue Balzac as well as for mr gagnaire's 1 star luxury bistro Gaya, on rue du bac. All the breads are using a levain starter, various organic flours, as well as "label rouge" flours (this is a trace of origin mark in france, applies for many foodstuffs and assures quality!). 2 years ago i was introduced to a baker from Brittany on the northeast coast of france, Michel Izard. He is a friend of mr gagnaire's and is the bakery consultant for him. When i took on the role of boulanger, he came to paris and showed me many techniques, such as the autolyse, the rabat and how to properly look after my levain starter.
So after 3 and a half years of working for Pierre Gagnaire, i have just resigned! For the moment i am on holiday and relaxing! But as of september i am looking to work in an artisanal boulangerie here in paris and continue to learn what i have come to love.