Interview with Yann Le Moal, head chef at traiteur de paris
Passion at the core of the profession.
Could you summarise your background ?
After training as a pastry Chef, I travelled to Polynesia to work at a SOFITEL hotel, where I rapidly became head pastry Chef. I remained there for 2 years, but then wished to return to base to gain more experience.
I further worked in several Parisian top restaurants where I met great Chefs, which boosted my interest in the culinary art. Hence, I looked for station Chef in large brasseries, still in Paris. Finally, I worked with renowned caterers such as Potel & Chabot, organising receptions.
Where did your passion for desserts ?
It goes way back to my childhood. The quest for good food added to contributing to family cooking guided me towards this profession. I care very much about passion at work, especially in our sort of job since it involves long hours.
How would you define the crucial qualities of a Chef ?
Passion ! Meticulousness also, as in many professions. One must listen carefully to criticism, be prepared to challenge oneself. Nothing is ever granted, even after so many years. A Chef in his restaurant, or a pastry shop owner can challenge himself, improve his output, although does not always enough time to do so. Within the Traiteur de Paris R & D department, it is at the core of our profession, day after day.
How did the Traiteur de Paris adventure develop ?
I met several passionate people during the course of my Parisian experiences. One of them, Denis Pinault, had just launched his business and was looking for a Chef. We started in small premises south of Paris, working on events from 20 to 1,500 guests. We quickly had to extend and then, for organisation purposes, we started to freeze our products.
Did it not frighten you to work with frozen products ?
Nowadays, many Chefs use the freezing process for the purpose of better organisation. It is a safe and natural method to preserve products. It requires know-how. One uncovers tricks, as well as raw materials that work better than others. It is quite straightforward for sweet preparations, but genuine expertise is required for savoury dishes.
How do you operate at Traiteur de Paris ? How do you develop new recipes ?
It works like a funnel. The sales team collect information and query the expectations from the customers and consumers, especially in Europe and Asia. We also receive further information from the marketing department. Then comes the brainstorming time to determine the general trends. We also keep an eye on the restaurant and pastry markets.
Once the project has been defined, we assemble the information: we determine who to consult, and what raw materials should take priority. The recipes are then tested, and the product adjusted to our satisfaction. It also happens that it does not work, and quite often; in such event, we abandon the idea. On average, one project out of three is validated and marketed.
We want to offer a nice and good quality product, and to be proud of what we produce.Yann Le Moal, R&D Manager
What, according to you, explains the success of the business ?
Firstly, the human aspect and the involvement of our teams: sales, product managers, R & D, production, as well as maintenance.
We also focus very much on the quality of the raw materials we use. Finally, there is the passion we put into each and every product all along the lengthy production process. It is a permanent challenge. We want to offer a nice and good quality product, and to be proud of what we produce, before we think about success in the market. Success only comes afterwards.