This first appeared in The Hollywood Reporter’s Cannes Daily on May 15.
Hotshot young macaroniers Jean Luc Pele and Steve Ghirardo, both of whom trained at venerable French patisserie house Lenotre, each have gone o? on their own in the past few years, launching artisanal lines and stores in and around Cannes. On May 12, THR purchased every ?avor available at the outpost of each, as well as all the “buttons” (as they’re known in the trade) o?ered at the local Lenotre, for a showdown of disc-shaped sweet meringue confections.
This Cannes branch of the Paris-based corporate cafe chain at 63 rue d’Antibes founded by the late, heralded pastry chef Gaston Lenotre (who partially inspired Auguste Gusteau in Ratatouille) o?ered a skimpy seven ?avors, all standards such as chocolate and passion fruit. The lightly crispy biscuits were exact, the soft ?llings evenly distributed; in fact, the entire execution of each button was perfect in its corporate quality assurance. (The cleverly designed to-go tins, featuring plastic placement holds, avoided cracked shells in transit.) Yet, despite their pleasingly clear taste pro?le, these were ultimately paint-by-numbers macarons. There was no je ne sais quoi, no joie de vivre. Price: €1.50 each
JEAN LUC PELE
The ambitious Pele has debuted several eponymous locations in and around Cannes, including one at 42 rue d’Antibes just behind the Majestic. He works across the pastel color palette, with an extensive roster of ?avors. The presentation is gemlike — the bows on the packaging, the typography on the taste sheet — to connote luxury, a hard sell with the visual merchandising. (The taste sheet features not one but four variants on the foie gras macaron, although none were available when THR arrived.) But from rose and pistachio to lychee and Nutella, the ?llings were wan and di?cult to tell apart. Worse, the biscuits, crumbling into the bite without punch, registered distinctly stale. Price: €1.60 each
Ghirardo’s shop, at 1170 route de Nice, is hidden in a sad strip mall along the scru?er swath of Antibes. Visitors can see him making his macarons through the windows. He’s working the widest range, incorporating garlic, balsamic vinegar, chili, even tuna tartare (this last is the ?lling for the Albatros, which, like many of the most adventurous options, is apparently not o?ered unless preordered). Ghirardo favors a double-stu?ed ?lling approach, which he leverages across the spectrum, going successfully subtle (vanilla, banana) and punch-in-the-face bold (mandarin, passion fruit). These biscuits, notably pu?er than those of his competitors, are easily worth the 25-minute schlep from Cannes. Price: €1 each