A Sweet Love Affair

Frederic Guinot, Executive Pastry Chef at Waldorf Astoria Doha West Bay, tells of his fascination with the precision and creativity found in his kitchen.

What first attracted you to the sweeter side of kitchen life?
From an early age, I was captivated by the precision and creativity involved in pastry making. The ability to transform simple ingredients into intricate, beautiful and delicious creations fascinated me. The artistic aspect of pastry, combined with the joy it brings to people, drew me to the sweeter side of kitchen life. There’s something magical about creating desserts that can evoke memories and emotions.

Your bio mentions that you combine French classics with a touch of fun nostalgia. How do you inject a retro feel and can you give some examples?
Injecting a retro feel into my creations involves reimagining classic French desserts with a playful twist that evokes a sense of nostalgia. For instance, I take inspiration from traditional French pastries like éclairs and macarons but introduce flavours and presentations reminiscent of childhood favorites and, of course, add the local touch.

After 30 years in the kitchen, what is the achievement you’re most proud of?
As for achievements, I am most proud of the mentorship and internal training programmes I’ve developed for aspiring pastry chefs. Seeing my protégés grow and succeed in their careers brings me immense satisfaction.

What is your signature dish, how was it developed and what makes it popular?
My signature dish is the Mille-Feuille. This classic French dessert, also known as the Napoleon, was developed through a meticulous process of perfecting each layer to achieve the ideal balance of texture and flavour. It features delicate, crispy layers of puff pastry, alternating with smooth and rich pastry cream, topped with a thin layer of fondant or powdered sugar.
The development of this dish involved countless trials to ensure that the puff pastry achieved its perfect flaky consistency and that the pastry cream was luxuriously creamy yet light. I experimented with various flavours and techniques, eventually settling on a combination that includes a hint of vanilla and a secret touch to elevate the traditional recipe.
What makes the Mille-Feuille popular is its timeless elegance and the contrast of textures – the crunch of the pastry against the smoothness of the cream. It’s visually stunning, with its intricate layers and polished presentation, making it a showstopper on any dessert table. Guests appreciate the craftsmanship and attention to detail that go into creating each Mille-Feuille, making it a beloved and memorable dessert.
That having said, though the Mille-Feuille has a piece of my heart, I also very much enjoy creating bespoke cakes for special occasions such as the celebration of love or birthdays, when it is a great joy to see our visitors’ faces when they are presented with something unique and beautiful. ✤