boite à outils

O’Gourmandise: a chocolate-lover’s heaven

Don’t get too carried away - despite the raspberry and chocolate colours, the window displays at 7 rue Pasteur are not for eating!
Thankfully, the tempting smell wafting from the doorway does come from edible delights, as you’re at a Food-lover’s heaven: Chocolates, macaroons, pâtisseries, regional specialities, sticky treats and ice-creams... Enter into a gourmet paradise!
Once inside, you’ll see a festival of colours and flavours waiting for you... a whole rainbow of macaroons wink at you from the window, while Carantec’s famous pastries tempt you from another corner...

An Exotic Story

Behind this dreamlike chocolate-lover’s universe is pastry-chef and chocolatier, Stéphane Giraud. His story has included globetrotting and collaborating with renowned chefs.

Initially, he had no plans to choose pastries and chocolates for a career-path. Aged 14, he was only half-interested in academic matters and thought he’d follow a more practical path for a living. Catering appealed to him, with sweet treats and pastries seeming more interesting to work with.

After completing training in Le Mans and Paris, he gained two professional certificates: one for chocolate and confectionery, the other for pastries and ice-creams. Next, he worked in a district of Paris with Christian Constant, before moving to a 4-star hotel, the Hôtel Intercontinental, under the tutelage of chef Jean-François Deguignet, and finally joined the team at the restaurant Montaigne Maison Blanche.

Giraud’s curiosity took him to Australia – where he met his future wife – and the French West Indies, to Saint-Bathélémy, where he worked at the Hotel Guanahani before heading off to Switzerland to become a pastry specialist with chef Didier de Courten in his restaurant La Côte (now Hôtel Le Terminus). Heading back to the French West Indies, Giraud worked with chef Maxime Deschamps at the Hotel Le Toiny and the famous Maya’s To Go in St Bart’s. Meeting creative and inspired chefs infused him with a new passion for his work and his art, which he then sought to develop and to share.
After 10 years in the French West Indies, Giraud has now set up his own premises on the coast of North Finistère in Brittany. A whole new climate, a whole new culinary adventure!

Portrait

Despite being in the middle of chocolate preparations, Giraud grants us an interview in his kitchens, in between two creations.

After having travelled so widely, why did you choose to settle in Carantec?

We wanted to invest in France but didn’t have a particular region in mind. Our priority was to find a place where our girls could grow up in peace and quiet. An opportunity came up to buy premises in Carantec and we were charmed by the setting and the beautiful landscapes. We’ve been here for about three years, now.

How would you define your creations?

As far as chocolate is concerned, I work with a whole range of classic items but bring a creative touch by adding a modern twist. With the pastries, the creations change and develop all the time; I try to offer pastries that are modern and inspired.

Where do you find your inspiration?

Thanks to my professional networks, I stay in touch with new developments, in terms of technique, texture and presentation. On a practical level, I undertake three training courses every year with reputed chocolatiers, which allows me to collaborate and share ideas with people in the profession as well as making new contacts within the industry.
These contacts with others are the main source of my inspiration. I like to get involved, bringing my own touch to a recipe. It’s good to look for something contemporary, to move with the trends. I like to revisit creations and I have no qualms about stopping production of a particular range, even if a lot of people like it.

How can we spot a good chocolate?

It’s hard to define in simple terms what makes the quality of a chocolate in the first place. Every element counts: the coulour, the feel, the shine, the crispness when you bite into it, the bitterness, the acidity... the definition of a good chocolate depends on the person tasting it. Above all, the quality of the ingredients counts - where the cocoa butter comes from, for example - and the work of the chocolatier in making the mlost of these ingredients.

We use Valrhona chocolate for our creations. This is one of the best sources for cocoa butter. They use wild cocoa bean stock from Venezuela and traditional production methods. Their experts are constantly looking for the best origins whilst playing a big part in the social fabric of their country. They were among the first in sustainable development.
I’m also going to attend a training course in order to find ways to reduce fats and sugar in chocolate production without affecting the taste - keeping the gourmet taste but easing off on excess. This is completely different from ’low-calorie’ versions of products, which inevitably detract from the flavour and taste.

Of which creation are you most proud?

No single image springs to mind particularly. Our pride comes from the transformation of the boutique itself. These premises have housed a patisserie for over 50 years. At one time, it was also a tea-room and bar as well. The patissier’s grand-children were born here. Carantec has alwyas had a traditional pâtisserie. Certain regulars had a hard time accepting the change; some of them even still use the old door, which now opens directly into the kitchens! We changed the outside of the shop and redesigned the window displays so that they would be modern and elegant, using the coulours of our craft - raspberry and chocolate, cocoa and fruit - and we’re pretty proud of it!

What if you had to choose between white, dark or milk chocolate?

Dark chocolate, without a moment’s hesitation, because it has the biggest range of subtleties.

Every year, Easter is the time when you launch yourself into new challenges, with chocolate sculptures. A particularly famous example was the plucked Polo le Poulet, and the Easter Egg O’Gourmandise with a ribbon corset to unlace... what are your latest surprises?

Polo le Poulet and the O’Gourmandise will still be available because they’ve been so popular! This year, there’s a new design in the shape of a rat! Of course, it’s a very nice and appealing rat, who will appear in various guises, and he should appeal to young and old alike!

Where do you find O’Gourmandise ?

Pâtisserie-chocolaterie O’Gourmandise
7 rue Pasteur
29660 Carantec
Telephone: 02 98 67 01 72
www.o-gourmandise.com