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Inside Pierre Hermé Boutique: Chef Pierre Hermé opens his first Riyadh patisserie

We chat to the chef about Saudi Arabia, his new patisserie in Riyadh, and his world-famous macarons, of course…

To understand Pierre Hermé, it is almost implicitly understood that a bite of one of his world-famous macarons is the first step.

Luscious, fragrant and delicate, macarons like his rose-lychee-raspberry morsel serve as sufficient proof as to why he has been touted as the “Picasso of Pastry”. And great news for Pierre Hermé fans in Riyadh – the macaron maestro has now opened a new Pierre Hermé Paris patisserie at the luxury Four Seasons Hotel Riyadh at Kingdom Centre in a partnership that marks the chef’s first outpost in Saudi Arabia.

Holding court on the Hotel’s lobby next to Obaya Lounge, Pierre Hermé brings his signature macarons and a selection of fine chocolates, jams, cakes and pastries to the Riyadh store.

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“I learned that the people in Saudi Arabia love sweets. I’m confident that they will love the selection offered here,” shares Chef Pierre when we meet ahead of the opening of Pierre Hermé Boutique.

He adds, “You can enjoy up to 12 flavours of macarons here. Of these, ten are our signatures, and two are based on seasonality.”

Step inside the boutique patisserie, and you’ll find a simple yet elegant space. The light, airy atmosphere of the space offers tranquil respite from the world outside, with walls and flooring elegantly draped in a mosaic of orange, brown and cream marble. Every tile has been meticulously chosen and placed to reflect light beaming down from the ceiling, accentuating their polished beauty and lustre.

The architecture of the boutique is also noteworthy for its resemblance to historical landmarks, with a circular layout that heightens the grandeur of the space, and only subtle embellishments including display cases recessed into the walls. Like an homage to the roundness of Pierre Hermé’s macarons and the charm of his character, the retail display continues the circular theme, with desserts showcased behind refined glass like valuable jewellery at a museum.

“We had to ensure that the design of the space is cohesive with the hotel interiors so as to achieve a harmonious ambience,” Chef Pierre explains when asked about the challenges faced for the Riyadh store opening.

A cornucopia of delights

Known for his unique, refined creations, Chef Pierre’s plan for the next few months is to create new flavours inspired by the country. “The most important thing – it drives me to continue, to keep creating, keep surprising and innovating. Whether here in Riyadh or around the world, the aim is to keep creating new taste experiences. That in itself is an everyday challenge,” he says.

Pierre Herme

“Moreover, it helps to have the right person to convey my vision for the different boutiques.”

Executive Pastry Chef Steve Thiery will take the reins for the Hotel’s Pierre Hermé Paris boutique after spending four years at the Boutique Pierre Hermé Paris at La Mamounia in Morocco. “He (Chef Steve) knows the brand very well,” Chef Pierre assures. To ensure freshness as well as an avenue for Chef Steve’s own creative touches, all pastries are made onsite in the Hotel’s dedicated Pierre Hermé kitchen.

While palate-tingling combinations are an essential component of a Pierre Hermé macaron, the ingredients he uses also seem to play an equally crucial role.

So, are there considerations for adjusting to local tastes? “Strictly speaking, no. For now, we want to focus on introducing the Pierre Hermé brand to the locals and providing the best pastries in Riyadh,” Chef Pierre answers.

“We want them to discover our signature flavours, such as the Ispahan (rose, lychee, and raspberry), Plaisir Sucré (a delicious combination of milk chocolate with Piedmont hazelnuts), and the Infiniment Praliné Pistache (Iranian pistachio and praline), and be fascinated by the assortment of tastes, textures, and flavours.”

When asked what his favourite macaron flavour is, his reply: “My next creation…”

Who knows, we may have a Saudi coffee-and-date macaron soon.

Pierre Hermé Paris Boutique, Four Seasons Hotel Riyadh, daily 10am to 11pm. @pierreherme.fsriyadh

Images: Supplied / Instagram / @pierrehermeofficial / @bayanalsadiq