Parisian Pâtisserie master returns to London 3 years after shock exit
Phillipe Conticini's two London pastry shops closed without warning in 2016, but now he is back with a new shop in Camden.
Phillipe Conticini is a revered Parisian master of pastry, and so delicacy devotees will be delighted to hear that this week he is due to open a new shop. The shop, which occupies an enormous space in the Camden Market North Yard, is undergoing final touches at the moment. It features a tea room, a 'lab' and a large outdoor area. The piece de resistance of the shop is the specialty oven, which is designed specifically for baumkuchen. This is a cake made by brushing thin layers of batter on to a rotating tin that creates a tree trunk ring effect with a hollow middle. Conticini is branding his own baumkuchen as “roules de Philippe” and offering them in chocolate, vanilla, and matcha.
Conticini already has a substantial empire; he has four locations in Paris, with two more in Japan. This is in part due to his reputation as a pâtisserie progressive. He is known for three key developments: in the 1990s he introduced the use of a vertical dessert presentation called a verrine; he introduced day-to-day ingredients and brands into the premium world of haute pâtisserie, including Coca-Cola and Nutella; and he introduced the “choux bar,” in which choux buns are served as an a la minute dessert, with a thinner shell and piped just before serving.
However, the Frenchman doesn't have an impeccable business record. In fact, his last attempt to set up shop in London ended in what could only be described as catastrophic failure. The shops were closed almost instantly, and staff members walked out upon not receiving their salaries. Co-founder Therry Teyssier said at the time that “the two London shops had been on a drip for months,” with the Marylebone store taking a week to generate the same profit as its Parisian counterpart made in a day. After this disaster, Conticini left the Pâtisserie des Rêves business in 2016. We ought to admire Concticini's bravery in returning to London after such a fall. Let's hope that this new iteration runs more smoothly.