Genesis of a cake

25 October 2016

The jury of the Favart cake got together and deliberated. But we feel most obliged to you for having been so available and serious, benevolent and joyful. So let's begin by speaking of the winners.  You were 64 to respond to our call for your participation by filling out the questionnaire about the Favart, a cake to be unveiled by La Maison Lenôtre and the Opéra Comique next February for Saint Valentine's Day and the launching of Olivier Mantei's first season as director.

The 64 participants played the game thoroughly. Each and every thing could be found in your descriptions and drawings (see all your contributions below). The prestigious members of the jury looking into each one of your suggestions showed that they were taken seriously. You should have heard them quote you, allude to a particular proposal or source of inspiration to smile upon such a collaboration between fans, pastry chefs and music directors.

The winners would be those closest to the jury's conclusions. Of course, the cake has not come out of the ovens so far. Nor has it yet been imagined by the pâtissiers from the town of Plaisir (Pleasure in English!) in the Paris region where La Maison Lenôtre set its kitchens. On Tuesday 25 October there was a discussion that lasted almost three hours between two worlds: sugar and sweetness on one side – Laurent Le Fur, CEO of La Maison Lenôtre; Guy Krenzer, head of the chefs; Philippe Soille, director of retail activities; Jean-Christophe Jeanson, pastry chef and Christophe Gaumer, dessert creation chef – and music and singing on the other – Stéphane Degout, Raphael Pichon, Olivier Mantei and the two girls of the jury, Sabine Devieilhe and Louise Moaty.

So the members of the jury examined what the cake will be like. Laurent Le Fur spoke about "the hallmarks of the Opéra Comique" and its identity, Raphael Pichon reminded us that "this French tradition has always had a craving for exoticism, Carmen's Spain, Lakmé's India, Pelléas's mysteries", Stéphane Degout insisted on "lightness, frivolousness." Everyone spoke in turn and it was quite pleasant to hear them allude to our familiar environment in a wholly new light. When the opéra comique genre was rather well outlined came the time of its culinary expression. Then the experts from La Maison Lenôtre did take their turn for our delight: "the culture of travel cakes to be conjured afresh, a high standard biscuit", the expression "of different rhythms and textures, the smell of having it in one's hand, the appetizer and the explosion of the many flavors inside the mouth", "a craving for childhood", "surprise in its simplest guise". From time to time, one of them mentioned what you had written as a basis for research in some direction or another. The choice of the winners was based on such considerations. Words such as "red", "curtain", "breast", "nerve" or "overture" could be gleaned.

Pierre-Yves Simoneau won the contest decisively, followed by Colombe Courau and Jérémie Perez. Pierre-Yves won a pastry class at La Maison Lenôtre's while Colombe and Jérémie won seats to Fantasio and La Princesse légère. They'll be contacted soon.

The other participants will also win something. They'll be allowed to attend the dress rehearsal of an opera.

A video of the jury's meeting and verbatim account will follow so that you'll be able to better understand the jury's choice and what the cake will be like.

Our thanks to everyone involved. The Favart cake initiative was a great pleasure for us. A first version of the Favart is to come out of La Maison Lenôtre's laboratories in late November. Sabine Devieilhe, Louise Moaty, Raphael Pichon and Stéphane Degout will be the first to taste it. Stay tuned! We'll keep you informed!

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