Next Stop: Tokyo
I really want to go to Tokyo because I hear a lot about it. I was supposed to, and it never happened. But the Japanese are very creative, and their pastry shops are said to be amazing. Packaging-wise, the Japanese are some of the best, if not the best. If you look at a product from the right Japanese company, it’s either so beautiful you don’t want to open it, or it’s so silly that you can’t forget it. You go in any Japanese pastry shop, and everything is so precious. I don’t have any one shop in particular I want to visit, I just want to go explore.
Chocolate Mecca: Paris
Paris to me is the number-one chocolate town. Patrick Roger does crazy stuff, he’s out of his mind. His flavors look as fantastic as his boxes: clean, creative, but not too out there. And they’re always very well-made—he’s very hands-on in what they do. Then there’s Jean-Paul Hévin, he’s also in Tokyo. His flavors are very clean, his packaging is an inspiration. And Pierre Hermé has been an inspiration for my generation of pastry chefs. He came up with seasonal confections: Just like in fashion, where you have your summer collection, and your fall, then winter, he did his with a theme, either an object or a person or a flavor, it was always very well-thought out. He was one of the first to get pastry out of its shell and play with all the possibilities that we have today.
Sweet and Savory Favorite: San Francisco
San Francisco is probably my favorite city. It has one of my favorite chocolate confectioners in America, Michael Recchiuti. He’s far enough from me that I can like him. He has some fantastic stuff. It’s the same idea, a similar nostalgic line. He has some s’mores, some peanut butter pucks that are very good. His packaging is beautiful. I go there often. Every time we go to San Francisco, my wife and I are big tourists. The first stop is the Ferry Building. We go to the Slanted Door for lunch, then we grab a Blue Bottle coffee, then we go to Michael Recchiuti. Then before we fly out, we run back to the Ferry Building and grab a loaf of bread from Acme, a sandwich from Cowgirl Creamery, some pork buns from the Out The Door, a couple pieces of Recchiuti chocolate and get on the plane.