Sweet dreams are made of this

MAXINE GORDON reports on the world celebrated French pastry chef making a name for himself in Malton

HAPPINESS is, for Florian Poirot, gazing upon row after row of the confectionery couture painstakingly and lovingly handmade in his new North Yorkshire patisserie.

Florian has opened a boutique pastry shop in Malton’s artisan food court, Talbot Yard, at the top of Yorkersgate, selling French macarons, handmade chocolates and luxury desserts.

He purposefully keeps the shop and packaging all white to allow his products to steal the limelight.

“Saturday is the best day, when there is more choice. I have six or seven desserts, 14 different coloured and flavoured macarons all lined up and the chocolates shining in their cabinet. It is very satisfying and very rewarding,” says Florian, 35, who moved from France to York with his wife Celine almost ten years ago to work for Nestle as a senior confectioner.

While working for the confectionery giant, Florian made macarons and sold them at Malton’s monthly food market. But his dream was to run his own shop.

While some little boys grow up wanting to be fireman, astronauts or doctors, Florian knew he wanted to be a pastry chef. His grandfather was a baker and he began helping him when aged seven, making croissants and bread. At the age of 13, he was so sure of his goal that he enrolled as an apprentice at pastry college. “In the UK, if someone wants to be a pastry chef they have to learn to be a cook first. That doesn’t make sense to me. I can cook a bit, but not a joint of beef!”

After graduating, Florian worked in a variety of patisseries, moving every two years to gain more experience especially in specialist areas such as making chocolate and sugar work.

That all stood him in good stead when he entered the World Pastry Cup (Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie) in January 2017 in Lyon, France, as part of the UK team. Their showstopper piece was a scene featuring Marvel comic characters in London. Florian made capital landmark Ben Ben in sugar as well as Marvel’s Fantastic Four. The team came a respectable eighth out of 22 – but Florian won the overall sugar work category.

“Winning the prize for the best sugar showpiece is the highlight of my career. I could never do it again… it was too much work,” says Florian, who spent every weekend for 14 months practising for the final. “It was a year of not really being here, not physically, not mentally.”

Now the focus is firmly on the new shop, where he makes an array of taste-bud tempting treats.

The macarons are displayed in a rainbow of colours – each has a different flavour, determined by the filling. “That can be a ganache, a jam, a caramel, jelly or soaked fruit with cream,” says Florian, adding that his best seller is the salted butter caramel. He likes to try new flavours regularly, a recent one being yuzo, a Japanese citrus. He even makes a gin and tonic macaron using the spirit especially made for him by Rare Breed Distillery, a neighbour at Talbot Yard. Another nearby business, Roost Coffee, provides the coffee used in his confections too.

Chocolates are a mix of pralines, ganache and caramels, with varying flavours.

Like the macarons, they sell individually or in packages and boxes from eight upwards.

Desserts are all made in single-sized pots, perfect if you fancy a little take-away treat for yourself, but also ideal if you need to “buy in” dessert for a dinner party. Each costs £3.90, which Florian thinks is reasonable. “I want people to have access to a five-star hotel dessert at home at an affordable price.”

The pots certainly sound a little bit special and feature layer after layer of decadent deliciousness. The coconut and mango one features a mango cremeux with a mango and passionfruit coulis, a coconut dacquoise, coconut mousse, topped with a crumble and coconut shavings. Puddings are seasonal – so no strawberries until summer, says Florian. But who needs summer berries when he can work wonders with apples and pears? One dessert has stripes of vanilla cream, caramelised pear, caramel and cinnamon mousse and almond sponge – just inviting you to dig in.

Succeeding as a pastry chef requires a particular skill set: you have to be disciplined as well as artistic. Recipes need to be followed meticulously, but flair is required too, concedes Florian.

“A good pastry chef has to be a little bit of an artist, like Dali, but not a total artist. You have to be rigorous in working with processes.”

Florian lives in York, but finds the artisan community of Malton, which has many specialist food and drink shops, the right place for his first shop.

Looking ahead, Florian says he is not dwelling on the uncertainties of Brexit. “With Brexit, people said it was not a good time to start a business. I reflected on it and thought there might never be another good time to open a business. Nobody knows… so I just go with the flow!”

We are sure the good people of Malton are saying a collective: "Merci!".


Florian Poirot, Master Patissier, 2a Talbot Yard Food Court, Malton, North Yorkshire, YO17 7FT

W: florianpoirot.com

Closed Mondays and Tuesdays