Parisian confections in Beaver Creek |

Parisian confections in Beaver Creek

Caramie Schnell
Special to the Daily

Parisian pastry chef Francois Payard has sugar flowing through his veins. The Frenchman is, after all, a third generation confectioner. He grew up surrounded by sweet treats at his grandfather’s acclaimed shop, Au Nid des Friandises on the Riviera.

“He is one of the most famous pastry chefs in the world,” said Kyle Deighan, the event and marketing manager for Beaver Creek Resort Company.

Indeed, with a resume that includes Le Bernardin in New York; “Pastry Chef of the Year” from The James Beard Foundation and Bon Appetit (1995 and 1998 respectively); Payard is as well-respected as one can be in the pastry world.

He’s in town for the Beaver Creek Master Chef Classic. Today he’ll lead a Master Chef Pastry workshop at the Park Hyatt and serve sweets to attendees of the Grand Tasting at the Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch. While today’s workshop is sold out, there are a few tickets available for tonight’s Grand Tasting (visit to learn more).

Payard took the time to talk to the Vail Daily about his latest eatery, a casual bakery in downtown New York City called FPB, why he decided to return to the Master Chef Classic and what he’ll be making while he’s here to satiate our sweet tooth.

Vail Daily: Tell us about some of the sweet treats you’ll be creating while you’re in town for the Master Chef Classic.

Fancois Payard: At the Pastry Workshop (today) I am demonstrating both Charlie’s chocolate pudding cake and the chocolate yuzu cream cheese layer cake. Both are from my cookbook “Chocolate Epiphany.”

At the Grand Tasting (tonight) I am serving a Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Passion Fruit, Pear and Ginger and a Hot and Cold Pina Colada as well as hand-crafted chocolates. All of the chocolates are handmade at my shop in New York.

VD: What ingredients are you excited about right now?

FP: For the past few months I have been experimenting with different bourbons and am creating a new bourbon truffle that is debuting this Valentine’s Day. It is made using a limited edition 18-year-old Elijah Craig bourbon from Heaven Hills Distilleries and the aromatic TCHO chocolate.

VD: You recently opened your pastry shop, FPB in New York City. How is it going so far? What is the most popular treat you sell there?

FP: FPB is going great. It is inspired by the rustic French bakeries I grew up with and is influenced by my childhood in France. A must-have item at FPB is the Gateau Basque. It’s sold by the slice or as a whole cake. Based on a recipe from the Relais Dessert, it’s a twist on the traditional Gateau Basque. The flaky crust surrounds a vanilla bean pastry cream. It will stay fresh for a few days – if it lasts that long. It’s the best!

VD: What is your favorite dessert?

FP: Ice cream.

VD: What inspires new dishes?

FP: It is always exciting to experiment and create new desserts. Flavor and texture are very important to me. I am constantly thinking of new ideas and twists on different recipes. I try to incorporate new ingredients from my travels into new collections of cakes, pastries, verrines and chocolates.

VD: What’s the strangest food item you’ve ever included in a pastry recipe?

FP: For Valentine’s Day this year I am making a bourbon truffle but it is made using a fermented mash from the bourbon. It was an experiment to create the truffles. I tried a few different types of bourbon and then experimented with the fermented and unfermented mash. The mash reacts differently when you boil it. It really was an experiment to make these truffles.

VD: What’s your favorite thing about the Master Chef Classic? Why did you decide to return?

FP: The Master Chef Classic is one of the more relaxing events I have been to. Everyone, even the chefs, have a chance to relax. Everyone is able to manage their time well between working and enjoying Beaver Creek.

High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 970-748-2984 or

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