Michel Roux is a master craftsman. He is also a poet among patissiers. During the most recent series of Professional Masterchef he was tasting an incredibly baroque rose and raspberry macaroon. Having taken a measured bite, he smiled serenely and said to his fellow-judges: ‘There weren’t enough roses in his garden today, don’t you think?’ Not only was this the gentlest of criticism, it also spoke of a zen-like mastery and an aesthetic all in one. A fine palate was talking, one capable of assessing with the utmost accuracy the optimum flavour of a rose macaroon.
Pitch-perfect palate is counterbalanced in Michel Roux by delicacy of touch. Watch Roux make pastry on his eighties cookery show and you’ll see his fingers mix flour, butter and egg with the same lightness a pianist would require to play one of the dreamier preludes by Chopin. Watching this clip on youtube after seeing the Masterchef episode mentioned above was all the encouragement I needed to buy Roux’s Pastry without delay. Using the recipes in his book won’t necessarily make you into a master patissier, but they will certainly extend your patisserie skills. And learning, of course tasting, your way through the different types of pastry– sablée, foncée, brisée, sucrée and so on–is a delight that needs no justification.