Olivier Briault, pastry chef, Opus, Birmingham

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 17th March 2015
Having grown up surrounded by pastry it seemed the natural choice for French pastry chef Olivier Briault. Having gained experience in various pastry schools back in France Olivier made the decision to move to the UK to further his passion after his Birmingham-born wife wasn’t happy living with him in Paris. Now a pastry chef at David Colcombe’s Opus, Birmingham, this is the first restaurant job that Olivier has undertaken but must be doing something right as he won this year’s Dessert of the Year; also the first competition he’s ever entered. Did you always want to be a pastry chef, if yes then what attracted you about pastry? Yes I grew up in a patisserie, my father and my grandfather are pastry chefs. My father gave me my first apron and hat when I was three.IMG_20140913_115216 What was your first job, was it in pastry? Yes my first job was in a bakery and patisserie six miles away from my home. I don’t have great memories of that place, although I stayed for two years. What made you come over to the UK and what was your first job when you got here? When I moved to the UK my first job was with Bread Collections, a patisserie in Knowle. I worked there for about a year. My wife is from Birmingham. When I met her she came to live in Paris with me, but she was not happy in this big city. I saw a job offer for a pastry chef close to Birmingham and two weeks later, we moved back to the UK.
Signature dishes: Pistachio temptation (pistachio mousse raspberry jelly and pistachio macaroon) The smooth mango (poached mango and pineapple, Italian meringue, dark chocolate with mango sorbet Top 5 desserts: Chocolate Ganache (opera) The smooth mango The Eton mess Pistachio temptation Praline cheesecake
How long have you been at Opus? I have been working at Opus for 10 months now. What is the best thing about your role? There is a chef’s table in our kitchen; I have to create a special dessert every time the table is booked and it allows me to be creative. This is what I love at Opus. How many are there in your team? There are eight of us. How free are you to create a dessert/pastry dish without too much guidance from David? Does he trust you and give you the freedom to change dishes or create new ones? I do have regular meetings with David to talk about new ideas and what exciting offerings we can provide to our clients. Then I go and do what I love, which is to make wonderful dessert for our customers. What is your favourite dessert/pastry dish to create? I don’t really have one; what I like to do is to change my style often using different ingredients. Seasons change, so deserts change with them. What do you enjoy making most? Do you enjoy making dishes out of chocolate or do you enjoy sweet pastries?B4uiO70IYAAgD9n I don't really have a preference; I love making dishes out of both. What I love most is to make people happy with my creations; the look on someone's face when they have a first bite of a fantastic desert is priceless. So whatever I make I put my heart and soul into it. It helps that I have a sweet tooth and adore anything made of chocolate and sweet. How is a pastry chef’s job different in the UK to a pastry chef job in France? Is it assumed that a pastry chef in France should be able to create classic patisserie? For me everything is different because it is the first time that I worked in a restaurant. In France I always worked in a patisserie. In France a pastry chef must be able to create classic French patisserie. In England however, I find that I can be more creative and move away from the classic products when I want. This allows me to bring a lot of variety to the table; this is something that I really like. IMG_20141114_222629439-2What made you enter Dessert of the Year 2015? Is this the first time you have entered? I read about the competition and thought it would be a great idea to show what I can do and to meet other people from the same industry. How many competitions have you entered throughout your career? This was the first one. Do you think that competitions for pastry chefs are important? In your experience do you think there are more available for pastry chefs now than there was 10 years ago? I am not sure; this was my first competition and I really enjoyed it. I would love to enter more competitions in the future. I think competitions have always existed. However TV series like MasterChef and The Great British Bake Off are pushing young chefs to strive to do better. Perhaps as a result there are more competitions?Opus Restaurant, fine dining rooms. Birmingham, England. What advice would you give to a young pastry chef or someone thinking about starting a career as a pastry chef? There are many areas of pastry to learn about and master to become a pastry chef; for instance chocolate, ice cream, pastry etc. You can’t be a good pastry chef in two or three years. The best advice I can give is when you start this job you have to listen to the chefs; be prepared to work long hours and change your place of work every so often to learn different ways of working. Who influences you as a pastry chef, who do you look up to or aspire to be like? IMG_20150128_073140Of course when I was growing up I looked up to my father and grandfather. Later I started to follow many big pastry chefs or household names. I follow M.O.F in different social networks like Jean Michel Perruchon and Etienne Stein. What are your plans for the next 5 years – do you want to stay within pastry? Of course, this is my life and this is what I love to do. I plan to stay at Opus; we are a good team. It is hard work but I love my job. If like Olivier you would like to work as a pastry chef then have a look at our jobs board where you will find a range of pastry chef positions.

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 17th March 2015

Olivier Briault, pastry chef, Opus, Birmingham