Meet Nicolas Botomisy, Pastry chef and chocolatier in New York
Ambassador of culinary heritage, quality products and technique.
Photo by @NicolasBotomisy
"We, as Chefs, owe the producers. They create, we only transform.”
If you call him Chef, he'll tell you to call him Nicolas. Nicolas Botomisy's simplicity and talent make him one of the most inspiring Pastry Chefs.
After graduating with a science baccalaureate and a BTS diploma in hand, Nicolas was caught up in his attraction to gastronomy and decided to work with prestigious Chefs and kitchen brigades to deepen his culinary and pastry knowledge.
His beginnings at the Relais de la Poste (2**) alongside Chef Jean Cousteau to the Georges V Four Seasons’ brigade with Chef Fabrice Lecleir, including the Waterside (3 ***) and the Carré des Feuillants (2**) in Paris, led him to join L’Ecole Valrhona in Tokyo in 2012 followed by L’Ecole Valrhona Brooklyn in 2016. The perfect organization, technique, love for the best products, and the chocolate knowledge and pedagogy, shows Nicolas has everything of the greatest.
With a strong international experience, curiosity and commitment, Nicolas now travels the world participating in gastronomic events, giving demonstrations, high-level training courses and helping companies to open and reinforce their knowledge.
Today he shares with us his passion for good food and exceptional products as well as his vision for tomorrow's gastronomy.
Welcome Nicolas to the Chefs for Impact community!
By Nicolas Botomisy as told to Chefs for Impact
Before talking about sustainable gastronomy, how is the current crisis impacting your activity today? What actions have you implemented since the lockdown?
"Like many others, my activity has been tremendously impacted and it is now completely at a standstill. As a consultant, I do training courses for professionals in schools or in companies. When the situation started to turn bad, all my contracts and trips were cancelled or postponed. Nevertheless, I consider myself lucky because I have no charges, no rent to pay and no employees.
In the coming weeks, I was supposed to open a training lab in New Jersey, sponsored by the brands I’m working with. This project has obviously been put on hold.
So, I'm focusing on writing my book... which is 294 pages long! A book (of which he takes the pictures himself, but he won't say so, humility obliges) about chocolate creations with recipes, but slightly simplified to make it more "accessible". I wanted to create something different from the traditional recipe books that can be found everywhere.
I also take advantage of my free time to update my databases, recipes, nutritional values, etc. I'm always on the lookout for ways to make my recipes more "accessible". I also read a lot in order to learn more, it's the right time! Finally, I continue to animate my community and answer questions from professionals".
In your daily life, how does your commitment to a more responsible gastronomy manifest itself?
"Before arriving in the United States 4 years ago, I didn't use a lot of coloring agents. But since I've been here and especially since the time I saw a chef preparing blue, red, yellow and green cakes, I thought it was the right time to stop for good! I much prefer to focus on taste with natural products.
What I deplore today is that the taste standard has changed. Now Chefs reproduce a Mars, a Snickers or recreate a Carambar flavor in their ice creams. In the past, the tastes of childhood were madeleine, financier or granny's shortbread... When did the industrialist take precedence over the craftsman? When did authenticity give way to profit to the detriment of taste?
Today we owe everything to the producers. We, Chefs, only transform the products. If the fruit is good then the cake is going to be so. We're fortunate to have excellent Farmers Markets in New York. I make sure I buy quality, local and seasonal products”.
Clearly, this crisis calls for reflection. In your opinion, can we have an optimistic vision of tomorrow's gastronomy?
"Gastronomy, I think there will be a before crisis and an after. The gastronomy as it used to be, the one where you wasted 200 grams to serve 50 grams in a plate, this is over.
As far as seasonality is concerned, there is a growing awareness that there is something wrong with out-of-season supply. The locavore trend has taken over.
But the major difficulty is to change behavior when consumers have become accustomed to eating strawberries all year round to a point where they no longer really know which season they grow in! A difficulty amplified by TV shows that feature Chefs explaining how easy it is to cook, but doing so from products that are too fat, sweet or processed. Industrial products are a poison for the human body, so there is educational work to be done.
Food behavior must be responsible but also must remain a source of pleasure. For example, I don't believe in sugar-free pastries even if they are becoming trendy. It is better to eat cakes less often but good ones from time to time. The hedonistic side of food should never disappear. Extremes, as in all areas, are not good and everything is in balance. We just have to be aware of what we eat".
How do you see the post-pandemic restaurant being like?
"The recovery is clearly going to be difficult as it is a major economic crisis, some will unfortunately not be able to reopen. But people will continue to go to restaurants because they meet consumers’ needs of conviviality, discovery and taste, and the world needs them. Pastry is an affordable luxury that will still exist because it generates pleasure.
The restaurant of the future, I would like to believe that it will convey strong messages by educating its customers even more. It would play the seasonality card: no more strawberries in December. I just hope that the economic reality will not prevent these changes. There has to be a collective ambition from consumers, governments and gastronomy industry players.
But it is clear that we all, at our own level, have something to do right now to get things moving".
What’s your favorite seasonal product?
"Peas and asparagus bought at the NJ Farmers market."
What’s your Madeleine de Proust?
"My grandmother’s Crème Caramel."
For more information: https://nicolasbotomisy.com/about
Image by Nicolas Botomisy