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You don’t just eat a Cédric Grolet pastry. You experience it – with all your senses. The celebrated French chef has not only innovated the thousand-year-old art of pastry, he’s reintroduced it to a new generation of hungry fans thanks to his viral, can’t-look-away videos, and some help from friends like Rosalia, Zoe Saldana, and Chiara Ferragni).

Now, with three cafés across Paris, London, and Singapore, and a World’s Best Pastry Chef award under his belt, the 38-year-old chef is at the top of his field and only continues to climb higher. With a Highsnobiety collaboration already sold out, we asked our good friend and foodie turned Gucci model Pierce Abernathy to sit-down with Grolet to talk about all things taste, smell, and of course, style.

In their wide-ranging conversation, the two chatted about what inspires Grolet’s hyper-realistic creations, a decade-long friendship with Alain Ducasse, an ever-expanding shoe collection, and why his friends don’t let Grolet cook at home.

Pierce Abernathy: Is there one pastry you just can't even look at anymore, don't even want to smell, don't want to taste?

Cédric Grolet: The older I get, the more I love all pastry. I’m completely addicted – I think only about pastries. That’s why I have to spend so much time on the treadmill.

Abernathy: Where do you find inspiration beyond the traditional world of pastry?

Grolet: The most important thing is to stay true to the concepts and to follow the seasons. So there's fruit and there's flowers. Each season is different and each fruit is different, but we always keep to these.

Abernathy: I'm curious about the relationship between the recipes you make for Instagram and the menus that you develop. Do you ever let the performance of a video inspire a new menu item?

Grolet: Everything I make is determined by the season and my education as a chef. This is what makes my content successful.

Highsnobiety / Julien Soulier, Highsnobiety / Julien Soulier

Abernathy: Hyperrealism seems to be a theme in a lot of the work that you do. What led you down that path?

Grolet: Nature is at the core of everything I do. It’s what inspires me. I want people to appreciate the visual aspect of pastry instead of putting it in a cardboard box and forgetting about it.

Abernathy: With the pastry that you do, sourcing must be so important. How do you do that at scale, globally? What has been the most difficult thing for you to source?

Grolet: I’ve been doing pastry for 25 years, and I’ve been working with the same suppliers for most of that time. When I open a new shop, I try to use as many of these suppliers as possible. This loyalty allows us to maintain the highest quality. And this loyalty extends beyond food supply to our packaging suppliers, our architects, and anyone who makes our operations possible. We are always thinking long-term with our partners.

Highsnobiety / Julien Soulier, Highsnobiety / Julien Soulier

Abernathy: Recently I watched one of your videos with Alain Ducasse and you did that sandwich, which looked absolutely incredible. I know you worked for him earlier in your career. How was that experience?

Grolet: I see Alain as a father. He’s 30 years older than me and has so much more experience: he’s made all the mistakes and learned all the lessons, so I try to be a sponge when I work with him. I’ve learned a huge amount from him. We are very similar in our work ethic and our focus on customer satisfaction, but while Alain is structured and traditional, I am more focused on a younger generation. Together, we make the best of both worlds.

Abernathy: Was there a particular mistake you made in the kitchen that helped you?

Grolet: I make a lot of mistakes! But here’s one in particular: when I was younger, I liked partying, and one night I went clubbing and the next day I didn’t show up to make the cakes at my job. I was fired that day, and it really stung. I promised I’d never do that again. And thirty years later, I haven’t.

Abernathy: Amazing. I'm curious, do you cook a lot at home?

Grolet: I love cooking but my friends don’t like when I do it because I cook like a pastry chef: very organized, with everything in its own place. I don’t let things mix together. That’s just how my brain works. Five years ago, I cooked for my girlfriend and she said, “You do the cakes. I’ll do the cooking.”

Abernathy: That's so funny. For your videos and in your shops, you're often making pastry at a very large scale. Is there a lot of waste, and how do you manage that?

Grolet: There's barely any waste products actually. In our shops, we often sell out by the end of the day. And when we make videos, you’ll see there are many customers watching, and at the end of each video, I go around with a tray of pastries for them. There’s nothing extra. And I always keep one or two pieces for the staff.

Abernathy: I know you have quite the shoe collection. What's your most recent purchase?

Grolet: I like to bring shoes back from my travels, something I can’t find in France. The last place I went was Hong Kong, and I bought a pair of red and white Nikes. I haven’t worn them yet.

I have a pair of Vans that were made in collaboration with a friend of mine. Vans are very cool and they age well. The older they get, the more I like them.

Abernathy: What's been the most difficult when it comes to scaling your business?

Grolet: The biggest struggle right now is being close to my team. I’ve always known all the names of my staff – that’s been important to me. But in the last three or four years, we’ve been growing nonstop: we started with 20 people and now we have over 150. So it’s difficult to know everyone’s name and be close to each person because there are always new faces. That, and I would like to have more than 24 hours in a day.

Abernathy: Me too. What are your ambitions for the next few years?

Grolet: I’ve been working on a new concept, which is a combination of my existing concepts but that expands the world of pastry. Right now, my pastries are very delicate and perishable, but what I would like to do is to create something with global reach.

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