The luxury Interview of...

Pierre Hermé
Pastry chef - Maison Pierre Hermé

French luxury is time

Crowned the world's best pastry chef by the World's 50 Best Restaurants Academy in 2016, Pierre Hermé created the "Maison Pierre Hermé Paris" in 1997. Today, the culinary art of this heir of four generations of Alsatian pastry chefs is spread out in twelve countries around the world, in more than 50 boutiques.
Having worked for the greatest houses such as Lenôtre, Ladurée and Fauchon, Pierre Hermé is known and recognised as an outstanding Chef who has shaken up traditions: he created the concept of "Haute-Pâtisserie".
Ranked 4th among the world's most influential French personalities in 2016 in Vanity Fair magazine's famous ranking, Pierre Hermé collects the most laudatory nicknames: "The Dior of desserts", "The Picasso of pastry", "Pierre Hermé is to macaroons what Louis Vuitton is to handbags"...
Glamorous and elevated to the rank of art, Pierre Hermé's patisserie has revolutionised the macaroon and has seen the birth, among many other creations, of the Ispahan, a subtle harmony of the fruity raspberry, the sweetness of a rose cream and the floral note of lychee, all wrapped in the crunchy crunch of the macaroon biscuit.
Today, the House of Pierre Hermé Paris is a partner of the luxury groups Raffles-Royal Monceau, Ritz-Carlton and La Mamounia, and collaborates with the House of Dior, via Cafés Dior by Pierre Hermé in Seoul, as well as with L'Occitane, for the 86Champs concept store, located on the Champs Elysées in Paris.
As part of the partnership between La Mamounia and Bureau d'Image, for the training of all the staff at the Palace in Marrakech, Bureau d'Image trainers specifically trained the teams at the Pierre Hermé boutique. To meet Mr Pierre Hermé's requirements, Bureau d'Image is currently developing tailor-made grooming training modules to accompany all the teams of the Pierre Hermé shops in France.

Bureau d’Image: How would you define luxury?
Pierre Hermé: In my opinion, luxury means time, a part of dream, but above all, creation

BI: Does French luxury exist and what would its characteristics be?
PH: Yes, it does exist, there is no doubt about it. French luxury, with its spirit and style, inspired every luxury brands around the world. Kings and queens have initiated this trend. Then, great figures added to it and modernized it such as Charles Frederick Worth, who created the Haute Couture (EDITOR'S NOTE, french couturier, one of the founders of Parisian high fashion and the Maison Worth). Sophistication and the art of living also highlight this long-standing French luxury.

BI: What have been the major developments in luxury in recent decades?
PH: In my opinion, the main evolution is in the work that the luxury industry puts in customer experience. It is now possible to purchase a luxury item on the Internet. Therefore, when customers come to the store, brands build a personalised customer journey to give them a unique, complete experience with a high-quality service from the moment they come in, during the purchase and even afterwards, in order to differentiate themselves from other brands. This customer experience has become fundamental, much of the attention is focused on this aspect.

BI: How are luxury institutions stand out?
PH: Without a doubt by the creation and quality of the raw materials, ingredients, and the environment… But also, by the quality of the service as I mentioned earlier. It seems to me that the next step will be the perception of the overpackaging for eco-friendly reasons. We will have to evolve to a plainer packaging, less material-consuming. We are currently working on it at Pierre Hermé.

BI: Which leader are you? What principles guide your professional life?
PH: I am the creator of the Maison, I strive to bring the entire company with me to share this creation; smell, taste, perceive subtleties and instill the soul of the Maison. It is a never-ending work.

BI: What requirements does the management of a luxury establishment require?
PH: Discipline, exemplarity, and passion. For instance, in patisserie, we need to translate every creation into a recipe and thus into a process so that our idea of Quality can last and get to the customer, wherever he may be. This is a constant re-evaluation.

BI: What quality do we require from teams?
PH: Professionalism, passion, and discipline. I have the same expectations for myself.

BI: What fault inspires you the most leniency?
PH: The mistake made when someone tries something new. The error would be not to learn the lessons and consequences from it. I would encourage all initiatives, as long as they are true to the image and codes of the company, although you sometimes have to know how to poke and push these codes.

BI: How important is it to train your teams to service excellence?
PH: Since the creation of Pierre Hermé, we have implemented a training service for the sales and service personnel. We are deploying this training modules in all our stores, in France, Japan and in every other country where we have stores. These permanent trainings are essential to ensure the excellence of our service and are given to both new and existing team members as our process and customer care evolve constantly. That’s why we often fine-tune and update these training.

BI: Do you continue to learn a little more about luxury, its codes and its many ways to embody it?
PH: Yes, I truly learn every day, with each new acquaintance or meeting, by sharing with my teams and suppliers. To me, continuing to learn is even a necessity.

BI: What advice would you give to young professionals?
PH: In my opinion, it is essential that those who start a career in patisserie see it as studies. Indeed, on one hand there is the learning by doing, learning it the atelier and, on the other hand, a theoretical learning, at home, to discover the ingredients and techniques. It is essential to master all the techniques. It is also important to be interested in the history of this business and observe what your confreres do. Pastry is all about passion, and without it, it would not mean anything.

BI: What do you recommend for men: neat beard or close shave?
PH: I am perfectly fine with both.

BI: For women: for or against red polish?
PH: I have a preference for softer colours. Furthermore, in store, our salespeople don’t wear any jewellery or perfume. For sanitary reasons but also in line with our profession that requests taste and smell.

BI: If pastry were a color, what would it be?
PH: Chocolate.

BI: An animal?
PH: A cat, agile, sweet, cunning.

BI: An adjective?
PH: Happy.

BI : An emotion?
PH : Château d’Yquem, 1967.

BI: A work of art?
PH: The Joconde, a perfect beauty. An idea of luxury, a masterpiece where all is emotion.

BI: A motto?
PH: The constant questioning is the safest way to move forward.

BI: A virtue?
PH: Honesty, an extremely important virtue in the luxury industry.

BI: A historical figure?
PH: The Dalai Lama, a personality that I would really love to meet, that conveys virtues of benevolence, attention, and openness to others.

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