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Patrick Mesiano, taking a fresh look at pastries

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Chef Patrick Mesiano © Studio Phenix

At the head of the sweet creation section at the Hotel Métropole Monte-Carlo, Patrick Mesiano is the conductor of the symphony of desserts served in the hotel’s restaurants and cafes but also in his own boutique in Beaulieu-sur-Mer. We met up with the dedicated, disciplined craftsman who revisits French pastry classics with finesse and gourmet flair.

Between his boutique and the hotel, Patrick Mesiano is always on the go. Starting at 6 am, he’s already hard at work in his patisserie in Beaulieu. At 10 am, he heads to Monaco to organise the day with his sous-chef, check the MetCafé facilities and prepare the hotel receptions.

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The morning’s pace is hectic, then gradually calms down in the early afternoon before ramping up again at 4 pm, when it’s time to make the tarts for the evening service that begins, for him, around 7.30 pm at the ‘Les Ambassadeurs by Christophe Cussac’ restaurant. “No sooner have you finished at one point of sale, than you’re off to another one,” he explains.

Nevertheless, Chef Mesiano looks in great shape. He even seems jovial, and jokes about his busy schedule: “I even manage to fit some sport in!” However, he does stress that “being well organised” is essential.

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A passion for pastry

It was at the Lycée Hôtelier de Nice that Patrick Mesiano discovered his passion for pastry. A “crush” that set him off on the road to excellence. Although he was originally destined to work front of house, he discovered pastry-making by chance, and in particular restaurant pastry-making, through work placements in prestigious restaurants such as La Voile d’Or.

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A selection of some of the desserts served at Les Ambassadeurs by Christophe Cussac © Studio Phenix

After a few years honing his craft in patisseries, he worked at the Chèvre d’Or and the Royal Riviera with Christian Faure, Meilleur Ouvrier de France, who he considers his mentor. “He taught me all the tricks of the trade, we got along great,” he recalls fondly.

It was in 2005, one year after the Joël Robuchon restaurant opened at the Hôtel Métropole, that Patrick Mesiano came on board. Having previously worked with Christophe Cussac at La Réserve de Beaulieu, he joined him and brought his sweet touch to the refined cuisine of the double-Michelin-starred Chef.

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“He  is someone who has a lot of discipline and helps us grow through that discipline,”  says the pastry chef. An artistic bond that translates into desserts that are both elegant and flavourful. “We both trust each other, and we have a close working relationship. Every time I make a dessert or a new creation, it’s Chef [Cussac] who samples them, gives me his feedback, approves them or advises me on any adjustments.”

The dessert trolley: a gourmet signature

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The Dessert Trolley by Pastry Chef Patrick Mesiano © Studio Phenix

The dessert trolley is one of the emblematic signatures of the Hotel Métropole. An original idea by Chef Cussac, with Patrick Mesiano adding his creativity. For six months, he and his sous-chef worked on the concept and the early recipes. Every evening, the trolley overflows with tarts and sweets and the restaurant also has four à la carte desserts. “These are very intricate tarts. There are two different textures, a biscuit, several taste combinations, in a 3cm-high tart,” explains Patrick Mesiano.

He adds, “Our trolley must always look presentable.” Great care is therefore taken over slicing and serving. As soon as a tart is half-finished, it is replaced by a new one. There is no waste, however. At the end of the service the leftover tarts are shared out among the staff members, who are delighted to be able to take these delicacies home when their work is done. “They love it,” says the pastry chef with a smile.

Classics revisited with finesse

“Simple, tasty, classic pastry making.” That’s how Patrick Mesiano describes his style. “Despite our two stars,  we make classic pastries, but they go down well. People are starting to come back to the classics, that’s what they love!” says Patrick Mesiano. His revisited lemon tart, with a sweet base using coconut sugar, topped with a Menton lemon soufflé that contains a lemon and basil sorbet, is a fine example. A dessert that is a brilliant combination of tradition and modernity.

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Lemon tart, Patrick Mesiano’s signature dessert, which he revisits with flair © Matthieu Cellard

The pastry chef is a strong advocate of local and seasonal products: Menton lemon and fresh basil are at the top of his list. He carefully selects the ingredients that go into his creations, so as to provide his customers with desserts of great finesse. “The taste is super important, it has to be very light and barely sweet. At the end of a meal, you need to want to eat a dessert, it shouldn’t be sickly. It has to be moreish. The finish on the palate must have finesse.” The great thing about the dessert trolley is that you can choose the size of your portion: a little bit of everything, a small portion or, on the contrary, a whole tart for those with a really sweet tooth.

Patrick Mesiano is a master of the art of pastry for both shops and restaurants. Two very different worlds that structure his day. In the shop, the desserts are prepared in advance and must look perfect in the display. Whereas in restaurants, “it is more of a sugar cuisine, these are desserts that are practically prepared to order.” A creative and tailor-made approach that makes it possible to offer lighter, more refined desserts.

The evolution of pastry making: between tradition and innovation

Thinking back to pastry making when the Chef started out and today, he says that “30 years ago, we didn’t talk about pastry in the same way as we do today. It’s insane how today’s pastry has evolved. For young people right now, just the look of the shops makes them want to join the trade.”

It’s a trade that requires dedication and I want to pass that on to the people who work with me.

However, Patrick Mesiano warns that the pastry chef’s life is not always an easy one: “The hours are difficult, with early mornings and late nights. It’s a trade that requires dedication and I want to pass that on to the people who work with me.”

Chef Mesiano claims not to draw inspiration from other creations, drawing, creating, adjusting in his workshop with his sous-chef. If he draws inspiration from anything, it is the classics. He will willingly revisit them, but always with a light touch: “we’ll be getting back to the classics more and more. They are back in fashion.”That said, there are limits! When you see crookies or brookies for example. It’s kinda nonsense,”  jokes Patrick Mesiano.

A surprise dessert prize

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Caramelised flake slice © Matthieu Cellard

At the announcement of the Michelin Guide’s “Passion dessert” prize winners, of which Patrick Mesiano was one, the Chef admits to having been “very surprised.” He absolutely did not expect it and for good reason, Mesiano confessed to us, jokingly: “I didn’t even know it existed.”  The surprise was a reward for the Chef and his team and their hard work. “We might have two stars, but we make a trolley of classic desserts and that’s what appealed. This means that the inspectors of the Michelin guide liked the idea, the traditional angle and especially the taste.”

With his high standards, creativity and humility, Patrick Mesiano perfectly embodies the spirit of the Hotel Métropole Monte-Carlo. A sugar virtuoso who creates sublime, elegant and delicious desserts that delight lovers of fine dining.