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Once upon a time I was a rather prolific groupie. I would be marinading in the airs of the second course in a celebrity dive well before the proverbial hounds could catch a whiff of its (often over-rated) scent. These days, however, my groupie tendencies are like a pescetarian’s lure towards a piece of corn-fed porterhouse: if it’s offered to me, I can take it or leave it, but if I discover it on my own (with no-one watching) then I’m likely to take a sneaky bite or two.

So, when I stumbled upon a sleek looking boulangerie a block from Montmartre cemetery in the 18th arrondissement, I guiltlessly explored its wares…interesting breads, pretty pastries and tarts, and stools and benches looking out onto the quiet streets beyond.

Black sesame bread

It was only when I glanced up and noticed a cookbook with the face of one “Gontran Cherrier” brooding dreamily at something just over my shoulder that I realised that I had fallen into the digs of a celebrity baker. Surprisingly, the doors of this boulangerie were opened and closed mainly by locals popping in to pick up their morning baguettes – and the hordes of tourists that normally flock to celebrity establishments were nowhere to be seen.

To be fair, Cherrier does have amazing baking credentials, and the almond pain au chocolat I ordered for breakfast was so decadent it took me two sittings to finish it (just as well that the café au lait was bland enough to balance out the sweet edge of the pain au chocolat). But, no one can deny that this man’s eyes alone could convince Spain’s Duchess of Alba that that vial ought to be her last; because if ever there was going to be a celebrity chef that could cause a reformed celebrity chef groupie to lapse into her old ways, Cherrier might well be just the one to achieve that – the caramelised crunch of pastry on the ends of the pain au chocolat are just an added bonus.

Love the cute retro school-canteen-style trays and coffee cups
Almond pain au chocolat

Gontran Cherrier’s boulangerie is located at 22 rue Caulaincourt (with a second branch at 8 rue Juliette Lamber), Paris.

bisous, mon ami

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