By Heather Sperling
Aumont has literally spent his entire life around
pastry. Before being wooed across the Atlantic by
David Bouley, he ran his father’s pastry and
chocolate shop in southeastern France, attended Ecole
Nationale Superieure de la Patisserie, and studied
for his “Master Chef.” After exceptional
performances at New York’s Bouley Bakery
and Compass, a timely posting on StarChef’s
JobFinder led to his current position at The Modern
in New York.
Heather Sperling: How did you
get your position at The Modern?
Marc Aumont: A colleague connected
me with the StarChefs JobFinder. We were working together
at Compass and when she saw the position
at The Modern listed on JobFinder, she told
me right away. I put in my resume through the website
and had a few contacts make some reference calls for
HS: You make desserts for four
high-traffic venues each day. How do you do it?
MA: Sometimes it is a headache…thankfully
we have 21 people in pastry, including two sous chefs.
Each restaurant has a different menu, and we make
1,000-1,200 desserts a day, but not all of them are
plated. The Modern and the adjacent Bar
Room are all plated desserts. Café
2 is rustic Italian and all bakery-style, no
plating. The fancier Terrace 5 is part bakery-style,
part plated. So some of the desserts can be made in
the morning in our basement kitchen, and sent to the
restaurants around the museum before 10am.
How would you describe your desserts?
MA: There are different levels of
formality for the different venues. Terrace 5
is decadent and Bar Room is semi-classical
but comforting. Modern features well-balanced seasonal
ingredients with a touch of modernism. Right now at
The Modern we are working with tomatoes and
strawberries, making strawberries with crème
of olive oil, and marmalades of tomato and lemon confit.
I am very close to Spanish gastronomy; I consider
myself a blend of Spanish, French and American. We
try to please people, but not in a crazy way. I don’t
want to scare people.
HS: How do you go about developing
MA: I read a lot. I mentioned Spanish
gastronomy, like Oriol Balaguer. Mostly I am inspired
by the ideas of the Chef, Gabriel Kreuther. When he
changes his menu it is an inspiration for us to look
for something new. I try to follow Gabriel’s
menu to a good ending—that is my goal. I also
send my sous chefs to school. They come back with
new things that we adapt to our style. It is very
collaborative; people work with me, they don’t
work for me. We try to keep it that way.
HS: What is your advice for
young pastry chefs?
MA: Be patient! When people get
out of school they want to be a chef at the top restaurants,
but before they can do that they need to build their
knowledge. Think of the story of the three little
pigs. Do you want to be a chef with a house of paper,
a house of wood or a house of brick? Myself, I always
try to have a house of brick. It takes more sweat,
more time, and it’s more difficult, but in the
long run you are going to be much more successful.
Like my father said, experience is a name I give
to my mistakes. Today I am still learning. I am practically
37 and I am still learning and making mistakes, and
I learn and teach by these mistakes.
HS: What’s next for you?
MA: I would love to work with other
professionals to develop a diploma for high level
food and pastry arts. I also hope to open my own restaurant
someday with some partners from the food industry,
modeled after Tru in Chicago, with one in
the front of the house, one in pastry, one in cuisine.
Or perhaps a salon du thé… It
will always be pastry, though. My world is pastry
and I am still exploring it. Every day there is something