Thursday 14 November 2013

French Foodies in Ireland: Julien Drapeau, Wedding Cake Designer, Kilcock

Where in France are you from?
I am from Les Sables d' Olonne, a lovely little town on the French coast between Nantes and La Rochelle. My Father had a Michelin starred restaurant and I grew up there surrounded by meat, fishes, pastries, breads and chocolates.

What brought you to Ireland?
After my military service in the Ministry of Defense in Paris (as a Chef for a General), I wanted a bit of fresh air, something different so I bought a plane ticket for Ireland. I learnt a bit of English, worked as a chef around Dublin and met my future wife. After a year, I came back home to open a Michelin starred restaurant and a bistro with my father. This was an amazing experience, we spent 4 years doing this together but when my father retired I decided I didn't want to do it alone so I decided to go back to Ireland for good.

Tell me about your occupation and your food business.
I am a wedding cake designer, I meet with the brides and grooms a few month before the big date, we share ideas and I draw sketches of their future wedding cakes. As I have decided to work on my own, I bake, decorate and do all the paper work which is not my favourite part of the job. I am not much of a business man, it's the artistic part of the work that I prefer.

What are your most popular products?
My most popular product at the moment are my chocolate and praline macarons, I am very proud of my recipe and most of my customers are amazed by the taste. They usually get some on the side of a masterpiece cake to serve as petit fours or for the champagne reception on arrival at the venue.

What was the most original request you had regarding a wedding cake?
I had a good few very original requests, I did a replica of the Colosseum in Rome, the globe theatre in London and the Eiffel tower (full of little gems). I also did a piano all in sugar, a cake made of 3 film reels on top of each other and a cake made of sea shells.

What do you love about your job?
There are a few things that I really love about my job. One is finding little tricks, a little secret that will solve a technical difficulty, it is great to feel inventive. Another part that I really like is putting the cake together, all the decoration are detached until the last minute and when everything comes together as planned it is brilliant.
The last thing that I really like is getting home after setting up a tricky cake at the venue, I imagine the face of the bride and groom coming to the room, I must admit it makes me feel very proud of myself.

What is your favourite French dessert?
My favourite French dessert is the "biscuit coulant au chocolat" it looks like an 8cm height cylinder that has a diameter of 5cm, it has the texture of a muffin with a bit of a crust and the chocolate is completely liquid inside. You can eat it like a 3min boiled egg. The combination of crust, softness and melted goodness is simply divine. I feel a bit jealous that I didn't come up with the idea myself!

All pictures courtesy of Julien Drapeau
Julien Drapeau