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The Art of French Pastry with Nadège Nourian

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“What’s amazing about Toronto is that you can just go to different areas, and it’s like you’ve already travelled.”
—Nadège Nourian, French pastry chef, Toronto

French pastry chef Nadège Nourian is obsessed with ingredients—chocolate, fruit purée, milk, and butter.

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Classically trained in the French culinary tradition, pastry chef Nadège Nourian pays attention to every detail of her creations.

These are the basic building blocks of Nourian’s art: the essential foundation of every dessert placed in the display cases of her mini-empire of Nadège Patisserie locations peppered throughout Toronto.

“Butter is number one. If you have a very good butter flavour, that’s going to make the whole product,” Nourian says.

To step through the door of one of her French pastry shops is to enter a dream world filled with colourful, flavourful flights of fancy that astound the imagination as much as they impress the palate.

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Valrhona premium chocolate, imported directly from France.

Tradition and innovation

Born and raised in Lyon—France’s culinary capital—Nourian is a fourth-generation pastry chef, well-versed in the techniques and savoir-faire of French gastronomy.

She’s been living in Toronto for the past 13 years, where she has been building a reputation for an uncompromisingly French approach to dessert: an insistence on the absolute finest ingredients, a focus on respecting tradition, and a desire to pay homage to the history of her profession.

In any of the locations of Nadège Patisserie, you’ll find all the traditional French favourites: cakes, tartes, bonbons, croissants—both sweet and savoury—and, of course, the colourful macarons, which first put the pastry shops on the map.

“When we opened, it was crazy—everybody wanted a macaron, which is funny because we sold a lot of other things. But I’m very proud of the macarons—we did so many different creations,” Nourian says.

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Seasonal celebrations provide an important inspiration to Nourian, with inventive flourishes, subtle touches, and imaginative flavour combinations making for a collection of unforgettable holiday desserts.

In addition to the usual French pastry fare, Nadège Patisserie dares to experiment, evolve, and challenge traditions with a verve and panache that are as French as anything coming out of the oven.

“I want to keep creating new things and always explore,” Nourian says. “Of course, there are things we don’t touch and like to keep very French, such as the pain au chocolat and the galette des rois.”

“We have staples, but we also change our menu—maybe six times a year. Desserts bring a lot of creativity. I’ve always liked that,” Nourian says.

She admits that her adopted city inspires no small part of her experimentation.

“What’s amazing about Toronto is that you can just go to different areas, and it’s like you’ve already travelled,” Nourian says.

“I see what a very local place is doing with dessert and maybe find an ingredient I’ve never heard of. That’s always very fascinating.”

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Left: Nourian’s Marie Antoinette cake is an example of her signature style: flavourful, colourful, and wildly imaginative. Right: Nourian and her team test and taste each recipe multiple times to ensure it’s pleasing to both eye and taste buds.

Nourian has taken this blending approach to heart by pairing beloved Asian flavours (yuzu, matcha, and wasabi) or Canadian favourites (peanut butter and maple syrup) with traditional European techniques.

“I love fusion,” she says.

Nourian’s artistry takes her to a new level during the lead-up to Christmas when the shop décor and menu change to suit the festive season.

On the menu, guests will find everything from traditional French bûches de Noël and gingerbread croissants to an entire family of playful biscuits in the shape of angels, reindeer, and other holiday characters.

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Much of that work begins in the summer, with ingredient purchases, recipe experiments, and chocolate moulding happening well before demand picks up.

“The whole shop changes for the holidays,” Nourian says.

Yet, at the Nadège Patisserie shops, this sense of celebration—the almost child-like joy that comes from sharing extraordinary flavours with treasured friends and family—is not just a holiday novelty or seasonal treat. It’s a basic ingredient found in everything Nourian bakes—an essential part of how she approaches her craft.

“Dessert is the last part—and almost the most important part—of the meal because, most of the time, it’s what people remember,” Nourian says.

This story is from Magnifissance Issue 115

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