You all know how much I love macarons, right? And if you’ve been reading for a while you’ll know how when I’m in Paris, I have to do multiple macaron taste testings every summer. Oh, and take multiple macaron-making classes too! But the one thing I had not done was go “behind the scenes” of a Paris pâtissier, watching how they make macarons and ever since I read Edd Kimber’s post about going behind the scenes at Gérard Mulot, it’s been on my (never-ending) “to do in Paris” list. For whatever reason, I hadn’t been able to make it work until last summer
I took the tour with a friend and we were a little surprised to see a large group (20 people) waiting when we arrived at the Mulot store and workshop on rue de la Glacière in the 13th arrondissement. Edd’s tour 3 years prior had been a small group of 5 people which would have been a much better size for such a small space where the tour takes place (it is, after all, a working kitchen!). For our tour, they split the group into 2 and one half of us headed to the macaron kitchen whilst the other took the tour of the chocolate-making kitchen. Still, 10 people in the tiny kitchen where they produce over 1000 macarons a day is a lot!
When we arrive, we’re greeted by a huge amount of nougat macarons cooling, being filled and waiting to be packaged…
Yes, Chef mixes the (French meringue) macaron batter by hand! Because he knows when it’s just right. There are a lot of factors that can make a macaron batter behave differently (the type of ground almonds used and how fine they are ground, the weather and I guess even the egg whites etc..) and the most reliable way to make sure the batter is “just so” is by hand. Chef has been making macarons for Mulot for many years , he’s obviously doing something right 😉
The tour is conducted in French with a translator but, speaking fluent French, I noticed that the translation was often just the basics. If you asked him (and you can bet I did!) Chef was very happy to answer questions and divulge many of their “secrets” (knowing that without all the equipment and expertise, knowledge doesn’t really do you all that much good!) and for someone like me who is fascinated by the process of macaron-making, I was interested in way more that our guide was offering in her translations. I admit that I am probably not your ordinary guest! I guess it also depends on who is your guide and, in fact, ours was conducting her first tour, so perhaps was getting an idea of how much/ little needs translating (I don’t imagine it’s easy – trying to gauge people’s interest in the actual process of making macarons versus their interest in eating them!).
We got to see the neat macaron-piping machine in action. So cool, but I do enjoy the process of piping myself – it’s very therapeutic!
In between checking out the ovens, the piping machine, Chef’s macaronnage technique and salivating at the mouthwatering macarons being filled before our eyes, there’s a chance to check out the tiny kitchen…
After the tour, we headed to the chocolate workshop kitchen for a short visit to see how they make their equally gorgeous chocolates (just as delicious but for me, less interesting than learning all about macaron-making. But then again, that’s just me!). I was keen to get out to the store itself where beauty like this awaited:
For €22 per person, this is definitely one of the cheaper “food tours” in Paris but it clocks in at just over an hour, so it’s also one of the shortest. For me, though, it was totally worth it and my friend (who doesn’t even make macarons, she just enjoys eating them!) thoroughly enjoyed it also.