Nicolas Rouzaud: "My greatest professional achievement has been the opening of The Connaught Patisserie"

The Staff Canteen

Passion, attention to detail and creative collaborations are what have propelled Nicolas Rouzaud, The Connaught’s Chef Partner, and what continues to sustain his love of fine dining.

Written by: 
Natasha Spencer-Jolliffe

Nicolas grew up in France, spending much of his early childhood in traditional Toulouse bakeries during the summer months off from school.

Since the very beginning of Nicolas’ culinary life, it is the natural world that he has drawn the most intrigue and influence from.

“Nature and the changing seasons inspire me the most creatively,” says Nicolas.

Having realised his love for baking, Nicolas took on a series of apprenticeships where he learnt the art of crafting fine pâtisserie and traditional baking techniques.

In 2003, Nicolas received his CAP diplôma in Pastry, Chocolate, Confectionary and Ice Cream at Les Compagnons du Devoir, the respected French apprenticeship responsible for exquisite quality. Then, in 2004, he received his CAP diplôma in Bakery.

Now, 20 years later, working alongside his team, and the creative collaboration they commit to together is still what inspires his work.

Traversing Europe’s fine-dining venues

Following his educational training, Nicolas moved to Brussels, after several years in small bakeries and pâtisserie kitchens. It was in Brussels that he took a role in a large-scale production company and he also spent time at Michel Kayser’s two Michelin-starred restaurant Alexander in Garons, Southern France.

Nicolas credits this as a valuable time in his career, preparing him for where he is today.

In 2007, Nicolas relocated to Paris, taking on a position at the prestigious Le Bristol Paris. Over the next seven years, Nicolas worked his way to his first Sous-Chef in Pastry, managing a pastry team of 19 chefs and working alongside the notable Head Pastry Chef, Laurent Jeannin, to produce the exclusive dessert menus.

Working across the entire pâtisserie of Le Bristol Paris, including in the dining room, restaurant and 3 Michelin-starred restaurant Epicure, he developed discipline and knowledge for luxury gastronomy.

These encounters with exquisite cuisine encouraged Nicolas to take on a new role at The Lanesborough in London, UK as Head Pastry Chef, overseeing the hotel’s pastry and dessert offerings and leading a team under its reopening.

The stand-out moment

One career goal stands out above the rest, though. “My greatest professional achievement has been the opening of The Connaught Patisserie,” Nicolas says.

With over 20 years of experience, Nicolas joined The Connaught as Executive Pastry Chef in 2017, where he worked with his team to open The Connaught Patisserie.

Opening during the Covid-19 pandemic on 12th October 2020, The Connaught Patisserie has recently celebrated its third anniversary. The revered fine dining establishment is open weekdays from 8am to 6pm and weekend and bank holidays from 10am to 6 pm. The team is divided into two shifts: 11pm to 7am and 6am to 3pm.

“Successfully launching a new outlet in the height of a global pandemic certainly had its challenges, but those were quickly forgotten witnessing the joy our pastries brought to guests’ faces,” Nicolas shares.

Undeterred in the pursuit of quality

Excellent service is paramount in fine dining restaurants like The Connaught. Yet, defining what this service looks like can be a challenge and consider a myriad of factors.

“While it may sound traditional, I take a more classical view on service, ensuring every member of the team anticipates the client’s needs,” Nicolas says.

Nicolas’s focus in delivering quality service is on attentiveness and accommodating guests’ requirements.

“Our clients’ feedback is critical to our success; acting upon feedback is fundamental to providing outstanding service,” adds Nicolas.

Since July 2023, he has transitioned to become a consultant for The Connaught and is also head of The Connaught Patisserie By Nicolas Rouzaud.

Training the next generation of leading pastry chefs

With this, he has become a leader in the industry and has a strong pipeline of European openings ahead of him, passing on the lessons learned so far in his career to aspiring pastry chefs.

“Passion is the foundation of our industry, having the drive to execute excellence and having a special eye for attention to detail is important,” Nicolas expresses.

Growth, flexibility and adaptability are also vital.

“Being open to continually learning and pushing yourself to discover new techniques, try new ingredients, and be open to new market demands,” Nicolas conveys.

Currently, finding skilled pastry chefs globally can be challenging, in addition to the limited training schools within the UK, Nicolas relays. The rising cost of produce and good quality produce is another limiting factor for the food and hospitality sector.

Nicolas is dedicated to spending a lot of time training his team and supporting and nurturing their individual skills.

“I encourage my team to explore areas outside of their comfort zone,” Nicolas says, detailing his role in addressing these challenges.

“I remind myself that I am training the future of the patisserie industry, and that is such a privilege,” adds Nicolas.

“Learning goes both ways in my kitchen as I could very well be training the next leading pastry chef for the next three decades!” adds Nicolas. Maintaining high standards is achieved by sourcing local and top-quality produce from various regions across Europe.

The Connaught Patisserie partners with the legendary French culinary school, Le Cordon Bleu School, a global network of hospitality and culinary schools teaching French haute cuisine. The Connaught Patisserie currently has five kitchen staff and one intern, and six front-of-house team members.

The finest ingredients

Regarding its style, The Connaught serves teas, coffees, and champagne, alongside French patisserie and savoury options.

The team serves 16 seated covers and 100 covers in and out (takeaways) per day. The best-selling dish is typically its pastry of the season. “It has been the fig tart lately, and Latte is a winner too,” Nicolas says.

The Connaught Patisserie has a unique look and feel, conveying authentic artisan design and finishes. “The décor of the Patisserie designed by Ab Rogers Design stands out and gives the opportunity to each hand-crafted pastry to become the jewels of the place,” says Nicolas.

The refinement of the pastries and a diversity of offerings, from a French baguette to a Saint Honoré or a Fig tart, make the patisserie unique and different from others.

By offering two to three new products per month, The Connaught Patisserie strives to be even more special and create an element of surprise for its clientele. Maintaining high standards, using seasonal produce, and continuous product development two to three times a month keep the patisserie ever-evolving.

“Achieving sell-outs, cultivating a base of returning clients, and regular interest in future product releases are the ingredients to consistently innovate and motivate myself and all of us at The Connaught Patisserie,” Nicolas highlights.


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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 28th December 2023

Nicolas Rouzaud: "My greatest professional achievement has been the opening of The Connaught Patisserie"