The conversation between the talented pastry chef Nina Métayer, head of the Délicatisserie (online or at Printemps Haussmann), and the watchmaking house Jaeger-LeCoultre began with a misunderstanding. When we told him Art Deco, the first thought of circles and volutes, while the second saw lines and rectangles.
It took several meetings to adjust their visions of this period rich in graphics, in order to compose together the sweet menu of the 1931 Café, open on the fourth floor of the “Reverso: timeless since 1931” exhibition.
The Reverso, the brand’s iconic watch, was designed for polo players who needed to protect the dial and glass from accidental drop or breakage – the case slides on itself and turns around to stay in place. shelter during matches. The watch, which saw the light of day in 1931 in the Vallée de Joux, Switzerland, respects the contemporary codes of the time, those of Art Deco, whose gadroons (three lines above and below the dial) are the incarnation.
A common language
To immerse herself in this culture, Nina Métayer had a lot of discussion with Célestin, one of her pastry chefs, a former watchmaker who, coincidentally, had applied to Jaeger-LeCoultre before being hired at her. She completes her reflection by turning her Reverso while walking around the Roland-Garros site: on the border of Paris and the Bois de Boulogne, she observes the perspectives drawn by the houses of the 1930s, admires the brutality of the concrete, let itself be charmed by the constructions of Le Corbusier …
And when she visits the Jaeger-LeCoultre manufacture, she understands that there is a common language between her profession and that of watchmaking: that of precision and gesture. “Pastry can be very technical, but excellence lies in our ability to go beyond the recipe, allowing our sensitivity to speak. If we take measurements all the time, we do not understand the meaning of what we are doing. I found this again by observing the watchmakers at work. When they bead, for example, they use a very precise machine. The mastery of the gesture (you have to press more or less hard) comes from their experience. Beauty will be born out of defect… ”
Several sketches later, she finds exactly this tension when she pockets the “feathers” of Chantilly cream with lemon zest on the blueberry pie that she calls “Silence of blueberry”. He has to hand cut the pastry bag to the right diameter and at the right angle before repeating a painter’s gesture on the cake. Ditto with the “Secret of red fruits”, a true sculpture of lightness to be savored in one of the deep and rounded canapes of the 1931 Café.
With “Bruit de noisettes”, the research is quite different. It is located both in the precision of the design and in the lightness of the creation (vegan), but above all in the sound that the cake will make when the spoon plunges into it. If the gourmet is precise in his gesture and regular in his tasting, he will hear a ticking which unmistakably recalls that of the knockers. Nina Métayer will then be able to turn her Reverso over and take a break from the time that flies too quickly for her liking.
“Reverso: timeless since 1931”, 1931 Café, 15, rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré, Paris 8e. Open until December 24th.