After learning the fundamentals of cooking and acquiring a firm grasp of technique, it is our instinct as chefs —and often, a professional requirement—to develop variations on the most iconic dishes in the culinary canon. In truth, even the dishes we create “from scratch” seldom evolve in a vacuum; it is often the reinvention of a well-established dish that provides the best template for personal expression. Even when our interpretations of codified dishes evolve into something truly unique, the greatest reward of recreating the classics is often rediscovering what made them great in the first place.Among the many staples of fine pastry, I’ve been obsessed with pâté à choux off and on for several years. Even after years of experimentation, I feel there is much more to harness from this understated preparation and more to refine. When done well, there are few better pastry-based vehicles. But therein lies the problem: often viewed as “just a vehicle” for whatever is inside of it, choux pastry rarely gets the attention it deserves.
Read on to discover how Michael develops new approaches to choux pastry, classic international desserts and even caramels for the contemporary palate.