Rue des Martyrs is a typical Parisian commercial street, sloping up towards the Sacré Coeur and within walking distance of the Gare du Nord station.
Constant queues outside Boulangerie-Pâtisserie Arnaud Delmontel, on the ground floor of a sumptuous late 19th-century building, are hardly surprising. Its proud owner Mr Delmontel, aged 37, has been voted Best Baker in Paris 2006 by the selective Pudlow Guide and has won a coveted Champérard award.
Following stints at prestigious establishments in Paris, Chicago and London, this local celebrity has spent the past seven years luring chic customers to his store, with specialities such as the traditional golden-crusted Baguette Renaissance, made with Guérande salt. As a change from croissants and pains au chocolat, Mr Delmontel also offers innovative delicacies, such as the Dacquoise – a biscuit created with coconut and pineapple chutney.
“Most French bakers are not designers. They churn out the same cakes or forms of bread all the time,” he says. “I like to take established products and add my own twist.”
His Black Forest gateau is a lighter, more refined version of the popular classic, in the shape of a leaf. Each gateau is unique, decorated with a different arabesque motif, representing the leaf’s veins. Costing E34 (£22) it serves between six and eight people.
“Before, when I worked for other companies, there was no opportunity to express myself. Now, as my own boss, I can stretch my imagination,” says Mr Delmontel.
His flair is reflected in a kitsch cake, the Choco’miss, (right) inspired by Japanese-style cartoon characters. Made with a mixture of raspberry cream and dark chocolate, Mr Delmontel sells around 300 of the cakes each month and, at a retail price of E5.50
(£3) each, it clearly pays to be adventurous.
In the relatively short time he has been in business, Mr Delmontel has built up a staff of 24, divided between his two shops. He also runs a catering and consultancy business and is working on a new venture in Spain.
Yet his sights are also firmly set across the Channel. “Britain has imported many big French chefs but not many patissiers,” he says. “I would love to find a partnership opportunity in London.”
It seems that, in the UK, Arnaud Delmontel will be a name to look out for.
- Boulangerie-Pâtisserie Arnaud Delmontel, 39 rue des Martyrs and 57 rue Damrémont, Paris.