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Published October 15th 2015
Relais Desserts Membership put Sydney on the International Pâtisserie Map
Sydney continues to shine as a gourmet foodie heaven with French-born Jean Michel Raynaud from The Rock's most well-known French cafe, La Renaissance Patisserie and Cafe, became the first Australian patisserie in the Southern Hemisphere to be officially inducted into the prestigious Relais Desserts – the world's most exclusive and prestigious French Pâtisserie association!
Currently there are only 80 members world-wide, the majority of whom are French or French trained. From the 'Picasso of Pastry' himself, Pierre Hermé, to other legends of the craft including Sadaharu Aoki, Paco Torreblanca and Frédéric Cassel, Relais Desserts unites the world pastry elite.
This prestige recognition is considered to be the pâtisserie equivalent of receiving a Michelin Star! Whilst Michelin Stars have independent judging and the stars are awarded, Relais Desserts is by invitation only, with chefs required to be sponsored by two Relais members and then assessed by their peers. It is renowned for its rigorous selection process.
The moment we walked into this charming French cafe for the special red-carpet Relais celebration, we knew we were in for a marvellous night full of sweet decadent patisseries. Little did I know I was swept off my feet by the moreish savoury bites, the French wines and the cheeses.
We began our evening with some lovely selected French wines such as Domaine Paul Prieur & Fils 2012, from Sancerre in the Loire Valley and the Chateau Pesquie "Cuvee Terasse" 2012 from Ventoux in the Rhone Valley.
There was a giant fruit basket filled with plump strawberries, grapes and dates. sweet fig compotes, roasted pistachio nuts and salty olives were placed strategically around Simon Johnson's incredible French cheeses - Delice de Bourgogne, Marcel petite comte la couronne, Mon pere brie and Bleu de Basques blue cheese.
I was thoroughly impressed with the abundant spread of these gourmet charcuteries and they certainly delighted all the guests. Next, I was faced with irresistible array of French savoury appetisers. Raynaud and his team created some incredible pastries especially for the evening.
My resistance collapsed at the taste of salty smoked salmon paired with creme fraiche. The chicken liver pâté and olive tapenade tartelettes were dangerously silky smooth that I went for second helping.
The chicken liver pâté and olive tapenade tartelettes
The delicious Lorraine and Provençal mini quiches warmed our hearts. The onion, anchovy and olive focaccia may not look much but it was utterly delicious.
However, the dish that truly made our night was the Original La Renaissance pork & veal sausage rolls! Yes, a very Australian dish but the sausage rolls were seriously good with fennel. The silky buttery pastry was truly one of the best! I had to resist myself to go for more to save room for desserts.
This occasion was more than just victories, it also represented all the hard work, the power to dream big, as well fun and good times. Jean Michel Raynaud and Sally Charkos both gave heartfelt thankful speeches. "It is such an honour to be included in Relais Desserts, the most prestigious patisserie association in the world. On a personal level, this is as high as you can go. I hope this achievement encourages people to follow their dreams and embrace what they are passionate about."
The evening's highlight included individual dessert tastings of the dessert Jean Michel created for his Relais Desserts induction ceremony. We were enchanted by these exquisite creations served at the celebration:
Next, we also tried Jean Michel's signature cake, the Fraise de Venus, a pain d'epices base with strawberry cremeux and creme fraiche. It looked like a lovely dainty marshmallow and the taste was airy and light.
These elegant petite cakes made us believe in love at first bite.
The celebration atmosphere was cheerful and full of happy vibes. I noticed there were a few gourmands and a host of other industry movers and shakers gathered with the Charkos family, Jean Michel, and team at La Renaissance and offered their congratulations.
It is undeniable that Sydney is becoming the most unique food destination in the world. Sydneysiders and visitors alike will be pleased to be able to enjoy accessible world class food, whether it is grabbing a takeaway sausage rolls and sitting by the Harbour or enjoying a coffee and dessert in La Renaissance's historic walled garden courtyard.
think they must have changed/improved something since a couple of years ago when they were looking tired - just a few weeks ago I bought a very fine looking little fancy cake from there for my partner as a surprise and she was delighted.