01 | Apr | 17

Richard Johnson

Tres Cool

He bounded on stage to Can’t Stop by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. He was an hour late. Of course he was — they call Christophe Michalak “the rock and roll chef”. So – contractually – he’s obliged to turn up late. He then insisted on speaking French — like any red-blooded Frenchman. The Rights of Man were written in French dammit. So French it had to be. But what followed was extraordinary. He lit up the hall.

I was introducing him (I handed British Street Food over to Hugh for the day) to Puratos’ international patisserie conference in Brussels. And he was inspirational. Born into an Italian family, he started as an apprentice chef in Paris, before going on to win the Coupe du Monde de Patisserie (known, unofficially, as Le Biggie) with the French team in 2005. That’s when he left behind ‘The Establishment’ to do his own thing. In his own way.

He measured his mouth to make sure that none of his cakes were too big to fit in – with just one bite. He redesigned his packaging to make it easier to transport his patisserie across Paris on the back of a motorbike. And the results speak for themselves. Everything feels tres cool. Like rock and roll — music for the neck downwards – his products connect at a very base level. Primal almost. I WANT that etc. Any street food trader would do well to learn from him. Il a fait son chemin. For those who don’t speak French, he did it his way…