In October 2023, the team at the Aux Délices de Combloux bakery and pastry shop welcomed a new passionate artisan: Julien. Originally coming for the winter season, a few months were enough for Julien Delaye and his partner to decide to make Combloux their permanent home. Today, this talented pastry chef shares his journey and experience with us.

Marine Martin – OT Combloux

A 27-year-old young prodigy from the picturesque Vendée, Julien tells us about his culinary journey with a big smile on his face while evolving like a fish in water in the laboratory nestled behind the shop. It was his apprenticeship in bakery-pastry making (CAP), followed by a specialization in fine pastry making (chocolate making, ice cream making, confectionery making, tea room) and an additional mention which forged the foundations of his talent.. After heading to the south of France, Julien explored every nuance of his professional environment, from traditional establishments to semi-gastronomic restaurants, before venturing into the tempting mazes of mass distribution within traditional departments.

But it is ultimately in the authentic corners of his native region thathe finalizes his training through a BTM (Brevet Technique des Métiers) over two years, before setting off on the great adventure of the “seasons”.

Never give up ! Always persevere and don’t party too much on weekends… otherwise it doesn’t work!

Why Combloux?

With a hint of a smile, Julien will simply tell you that chance does things well. After all, after having experienced the Alps during a season at Alpe d'Huez in 2019-2020, why not settle permanently in this corner of paradise? A summer in Corsica, an opportunity seized on the fly, and here Julien and his muse set down their suitcases in this mountain haven of peace.

When asked which cake represents the most the very essence of Combloux, he responds naturally " The Mont Blanc ! » – a base of meringue, creamy caramel, chestnut mousse and whipped cream. As evidence for a bakery that faces the summit of Europe. On the other hand, if you ask Julien what his favorite cake is, he will tell you about his love of chocolate and how the Royal, with its hazelnut biscuit, its crunchy praline, its mousse and its dark chocolate icing captivates the gourmet heart from our artisan (doesn't this paragraph make you want to rush (re)discover one of these cakes? We do...).

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Working as a pastry chef and chocolatier

The beginnings are modest for apprentices, with a salary generally around 350 euros, a sum familiar to all those who embark on this path. After obtaining the BTM (Technical Trade Certificate), income increases slightly but often remains below 1000 euros. However, with experience and time, salaries can reach a minimum of 1500 to 1600 euros gross, or even exceed 3000 euros, depending on the opportunities and skills of each individual. Despite financial challenges, Working conditions in the bakery and pastry sector are appreciable, thanks in particular to the collective agreement which guarantees a decent salary. This stability allows craftsmen to reconcile their professional life with their family life, despite staggered hours and often busy weekends. So, even if nights and weekends are reserved for work, the day remains available for precious moments with loved ones.

The sustained pace of the profession

Behind every sweet treat is a day of work. From midnight, the frantic ballet begins in the laboratory the bakery Aux Délices de Combloux. The day then begins with the proofing of the pastries then the dispatch from the store, with customer orders and those from restaurateurs. Everything must be ready around 5 a.m., so that the various delivery people can collect the products and deliver them within the expected time frame. Pastries are not left out; they too must be perfect, because they will then be transported to the store in Megève. Once these first steps have been completed, production of future orders as well as daily and weekly production is launched. The morning team, after having worked diligently following the night team, then hands over to the afternoon team around 13 p.m., who will continue work until around 20 p.m.

Marine Martin – OT Combloux

Echoing this demanding rhythm, Julien tells us that If he could have a superpower as a pastry chef and chocolatier, it would surely be to have a timer in his head, or perhaps a thermometer. Enough to leave plenty of room for creativity! Because there is Doing, and there is also Creating. Julien explains to us that to establish a new recipe, you naturally have to think about the assembly and consistency of flavors and textures. We are talking here abouta search for balance between crunchy, smooth, sparkling, creamy, sweet, tangy, with a preference for local ingredients and good raw materials, a guarantee of freshness and quality.

You have to be passionate, determined and hardworking.

In this effervescent environment, music plays an essential role, punctuating the gestures of our artisans. From techno to rap to rock, each note breathes energy and dynamism into work and creation. But beyond passion and creativity, financial reality of the profession is not hidden. Julien frankly explains the salary fluctuations that mark the career of the pastry chef, emphasizing however that the real reward lies in the pleasure of satisfying others.

But let’s get back to our sweet delights! We can't help but ask THE essential question to a pastry chef-chocolatier: is he prefer dark, milk or white chocolate? Unsurprisingly, Julien will reveal his preference for dark chocolate, praising its infinite nuances of flavors. However, he readily admits that tasting a square of milk chocolate remains an irresistible moment of indulgence.

What if we were to share this chocolatey delight with an inspiring figure? Our pastry chef-chocolate maker doesn't hesitate for a moment: Philippe Conticini. This great master of pastry, based in Paris, remains an unrivaled source of inspiration for Julien. For what ? Because it’s technical, it’s generous, it’s good and what’s more it’s beautiful. Indeed, pastry is a visual art where Aesthetics play a major role in the pleasure of tasting. However, Julien would like to remind all those tempted by the profession that behind each masterpiece hides a colossal investment in work and time. If the magnificent television creations make your mouth water, our craftsman insists on the demanding reality of the profession. And besides, what if we let Julien return to his work? This is because we wouldn’t want the shelves to be empty behind the windows…

Maddy

About Maddy

As web project and press relations manager at the Combloux Tourist Office, I am responsible for updating the website and informing journalists about the latest news from our beautiful destination.
What I love above all is meeting new people and discovering their world. Originally from Brittany, the mountain world has many wonderful surprises in store for me. And in Combloux, there is no shortage of personalities! It is therefore with pleasure and enthusiasm that I share articles and interviews with you, so that Combloux no longer has any secrets for you.

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