Which raises a delicate question: Having already eclipsed Paris in Michelin stars, could Tokyo chefs one day eclipse the French at their own cuisine?
I put the question to pastry chef Sugino, who trained in France and is one of only four Japanese members of the prestigious Relais Desserts, an association of the world’s top pastry makers who meet regularly to exchange ideas.
Choosing his words carefully, he notes that pastry shops in France are having difficulty finding young people willing to put in the time and effort required to learn the craft. He also says that even top French patisseries are now taking shortcuts — by using stabilizers in their desserts, for instance.
“They are losing the basics,” Sugino says. “It is possible that, 10 or 20 years from now, the French will have lost the art of pastry but that it will live on in Tokyo, in Japan.”
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