When Cédric Grolet takes out his pastry knife, millions of mouths water.

The young Frenchman, named the top pâtissier on the planet last month by “The World’s 50 Best Restaurants” list, is an Instagram superstar.


#cut

A post shared by Cedric Grolet (@cedricgrolet) on Mar 8, 2018 at 9:48pm PST

Millions more drool over images of his glossy hyper-realistic pears, apricots, lemons, peaches and even tomatoes, with Vogue – a magazine not known for its championing of high-calorie desserts – saying they “leave you wanting to lick the screen”.

“His fans cry, fall into his arms and demand autographs” and selfies, said the usually sober French daily Le Monde.

His work is pure “food porn”, it declared, with only a select few getting the chance to consummate their desire every day at the top Paris hotel where he works.

I would make bread all night so that I would be allowed to make the desserts at 11 in the morning. My reward was to be able to slice the apples and cover the tarts in strawberries.
Cedric Grolet

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With high tea at Le Meurice featuring his cakes sometimes booked weeks in advance, Grolet opened a tiny boutique there in March.


La Noisette ‍ #cedricgrolet #masterclass #foodporn @cedricgrolet

A post shared by Cedric Grolet (@cedricgrolet) on Sep 28, 2017 at 3:08am PDT

Its shelves empty within hours every day.

His Rubik’s cube cake – which pivots just like the real thing – has become a cult on the fashionable Parisian dinner circuit, although at 170 (US$200) for a cake for six, only those with deep pockets can afford it.


Merci la #france ⚪️♥️

A post shared by Cedric Grolet (@cedricgrolet) on Jul 15, 2018 at 1:00am PDT

Grolet has even made a blue, white and red version to celebrate France’s 2018 World Cup soccer win this month.

Like the members of the France team, he is something of a working-class hero.

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Eating with our eyes

The son of a hairdresser and truck driver from a small town near Saint-Étienne in central France, his moment of revelation came when he was only 13.

“A farmer gave me a basket of strawberries for helping him pick his crop and I made a strawberry tart with them for my grandfather,” who ran a small hotel nearby, he told AFP.


and #smile

A post shared by Cedric Grolet (@cedricgrolet) on Jul 24, 2018 at 5:58am PDT

It went down so well that Grolet left school early to apprentice himself to the village baker.

“I would make bread all night so that I would be allowed to make the desserts at 11 in the morning. My reward was to be able to slice the apples and cover the tarts in strawberries.”

Making cakes is one thing but you have to know how to communicate. You cannot imagine how many photos I take before posting one.
Cedric Grolet

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He later studied fine patisserie and began winning prizes before leaving to make his name in Paris aged 20. There he worked for the French gourmet food and delicatessen chain Fauchon, which eventually sent him to Beijing to help train its staff there.

It was also at Fauchon that he worked alongside Christophe Adam in its research laboratory, developing new recipes.

“It was every pâtissier’s dream,” he said, “trying new things every day.”

Like Adam, who has since founded L’Éclair de Génie, a chain in France and Japan, Grolet has been crowned French pâtissier of the year and hailed by macaroon guru Pierre Hermé as “one of the most talented patissiers of his generation”.

‘Naked patisserie’

Grolet followed Adam to the exclusive Le Meurice, which is owned by the Sultan of Brunei. He now works there as pastry chef under celebrity cook Alain Ducasse, who urged him to “work even more on taste”.

“Visual beauty attracts the customer, but it is the taste that makes them come back,” said Grolet, who as a millennial himself knows that Generation Y eats with its eyes.


Suite à vos retours.. Le 11 juin #teatime

A post shared by Cedric Grolet (@cedricgrolet) on Jun 5, 2018 at 9:47am PDT

The fact that his creations are not overly sweet has also endeared him to the calorie-conscious beautiful people who queue every day outside his mini-boutique, the first of what Grolet hopes will be a handful across the world.

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He began perfecting his extraordinarily delicate fruit six years ago, with their highly worked lifelike skins made from chocolate, with a mousse or marmalade interior made from the real fruit.

“The idea was to do away with the biscuit, the eggs, all the things whose taste doesn’t really do anything and to concentrate on the taste of the fruit,” Grolet said.


1 million #thanks

A post shared by Cedric Grolet (@cedricgrolet) on Jul 9, 2018 at 3:17am PDT

It is what he calls “naked patisserie”.

His tarts have a similar hyper-natural edge, with fruit as finely cut as flower petals.

With more than a million followers on Instagram alone, Grolet is almost as savvy with his smartphone as his blowtorch.


Je vous souhaite un bel été ☀️ #cedricgrolet

A post shared by Cedric Grolet (@cedricgrolet) on Jun 23, 2018 at 1:06am PDT

“Making cakes is one thing but you have to know how to communicate. You cannot imagine how many photos I take before posting one,” he told AFP.

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And not being in the country does not stop him creating. He keeps in constant contact with his laboratory at Le Meurice through WhatsApp.

“I draw and work even when I am on the plane, sending back everything that is in my head, and pictures of everything that I loved eating,” said the self-confessed “hyperactive” globetrotter.

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