Chris Herrin | Memorable Pastry King

By Shivana Maharaj
June 9, 2009

Photography by Deborah Jones Courtesy of Bouchon

Remember when all of life came down to two simple rules and ice cream, pastry and cake were life’s greatest pleasures. chef chris Herrin makes you remember those times well.

The chef de patisserie at Bouchon in the Venetian believes, “give more than you receive and live by the golden rule and life is simple. Plus no one is every angry with a guy who gives them cookies.” much of Herrin’s homespun wisdom and attitude can be attributed to his home state. The michigan native began his culinary career at schoolcraft college, moving on to an apprenticeship at The national Baking center in minneapolis, working with master pastry chefs didier Rosada and Philippe Lecorre. Herrin then headed to the famous Rainbow Room in new york, polishing his skills with Kurt Walrath. it was at this time that he took a position alongside pastry chef Patrice caillot at Le cirque at the Bellagio in Las vegas, counting that experience as a once in a lifetime rewarding opportunity. Herrin (a regional finalist at the 2008 Bread Bakers guild of america Team usa) joined Bouchon in 2003, heading baking operations both at the restaurant and the Bouchon Bakery kiosk at the venetian. along with Jacques Torres, and Patrice caillot, chef

Herrin counts american chef Thomas Keller as one of his culinary mentors. “Bouchon is the only restaurant that has the core values written on the wall–it’s about giving the best hospitality you can.” another element to Bouchon’s success is the team. “Thomas Keller is very good at fostering that culture, and constantly improving,” says Herrin. The emphasis at Bouchon is Lyonnaise cuisine set in a relaxed atmosphere.

Chef Herrin and his team create all of the bread, pastries, candy, chocolate, showpieces and wedding cakes for the restaurant. making everything in house is a point of pride to chef Herrin who credits his creativity to knowing the fundamentals of baking and understanding the chemistry between ingredients. chef Herrin is also passionate about recreating classics. This, to the delight of Bouchon patrons, has included filling a giant easter egg with fleur de sel caramels, serving vanilla soda and root beer ice cream, and concocting multiple flavours of fluffy cotton candy. These creative forays are a fun outlet for Herrin and his team. Though he enjoys experimenting, Herrin is not interested in the hottest trend, or avant garde apple varietals. ultimately, his modus operandi is simple—giving his customers what they know, in a new way. “memories are what it’s about. every day is someone’s birthday, anniversary or celebration. you want to make that day as memorable as possible. it’s important to make everything yourself and with love.” if Herrin’s philosophy sounds easy and worn then consider this, in the last few minutes of our kitchen tour we are introduced to chef Herrin.

He is about to leave after, what we later learn, is a bad day. instead of leaving though, he takes us on an extended tour and chats with us for hours. chefs are acknowledged arbiters of giving, but very few chefs offer such abundance and with such a spirit as chris Herrin. yes, Herrin’s philosophy is simple, but listening to him you begin to realize it’s the simple things that people take for granted that make life so immensely rich. enjoying a dessert at Bouchon will undoubtedly be a moment everlasting. you’ll always remember when.

Chef Herrin has created a food truck in Las Vegas, Lulu’s on the move www.lulusonthemove.com

For more about Chef Chris Herrin in the Summer 2009 issue of City Style and Living Magazine.