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Luxury Hospitality Magazine speaks with newly appointed Executive Pastry Chef at The Savoy; Nicolas Houchet

Firstly congratulations on your new role, tell us, what drew you to The Savoy?

The Savoy is such an icon in the world of hospitality with an incredible history. Walking in the footsteps of Auguste Escoffier and many others is an honour and a privilege. However, it’s The Savoy of today that also appeals; an ambitious and charismatic leader in the shape of Franck Arnold, The Savoy’s Managing director and a fabulous team who want to learn and push forward.

Talk us through your journey into the industry, have you always wanted to become an Executive Pastry Chef?

I started taking a keen interest to the culinary arts at 15 during a work experience in college, after which I decided to take on an apprenticeship in pastry, and it got me hooked. After working in France for eight years, I moved to uk in 2005 to open a patisserie in Clapham with two partners. I then went on to become a lecturer and the deputy head of pastry at the Cordon Bleu London Institute. I do love leading, managing and also making sweet treats, so the role with The Savoy is the next adventure and challenge that I was seeking.

What have been some of your most memorable experiences so far in your career?

There are many; all the people I have mentored, trained and worked with along the way, the countries I’ve visited and cultures I’ve experienced.  Most recently winning the European Pastry Champion title in March 2022 was a really exciting time – and something I’ll remember for years to come.

Are you looking forward to the Pastry World Cup in the New Year?

Absolutely! We are currently training very hard and, while looking forward to it, there’s also a bit of pressure building up now. The whole team at The Savoy has been incredibly supportive though, which has been a massive help.

What are your favourite pastries to make and why?

I really do like everything about pastry! So I’d find it really difficult to pick just one. There are so many different elements to the job, that’s what makes it so exciting. If I were to name anything, it would be ice-cream work, because it incorporates so many technologies and requires technical knowledge and skill to create something frozen that is both memorable and delicious.

You have achieved some fantastic awards, what motivates you?

The desire to push myself further and further and to inspire young talents to join the amazing world that is patisserie! The experience gathered along the way makes you a better chef and that is transmitted to the rest of the team.

Talk us through what ideas you have for pastries at The Savoy?

To innovate in presentation and taste, while still respecting tradition.  The eyes eat first but flavour should always be the priority!

What different flavours will be explored?

A hint of spice or herb, some tea, all with the aim of enhancing the flavour and textures of premium locally sourced ingredients.

What would be one piece of advice you would give to anyone who wanted to pursue a career in this industry?

Explore, be inquisitive, be curious and interested, but also listen to your peers, their experience will help you shape your work ethic, technical skills and rigor. Be proud of what you do!