In the beginning of the twentieth century, refined French cookery was widely known as "grande cuisine"; it was a form of food preparation centered around rich and filling meals laden with heavy dairy products and thick sauces (Braux 35). However, around the 1970s, an innovative group of like-minded chefs came together to reform and lighten French cuisine (Braux 35). Chefs such as Michel Guerard, Paul Bocuse, and Gaston Lenotre followed in the footsteps of Fernand Point to develop and popularize a new form of cookery, nouvelle cuisine (Braux 35).
The case of Gaston Lenotre is truly unique in that he set out to lighten and freshen pastries that the French had come to know and love. Throughout his working life, Lenotre devoted his energies to utilizing the freshest and highest quality of ingredients to form flavorful and yet simple dishes for the often thousands of guests that he would serve on a daily basis (Jaine). His commitment to excellence paid off and, since his death in 2009, he has been called everything from a "god of desserts" to a "pastry genius" by his former colleagues and students (Strzemien).
Gaston Lenotre was born in May of 1920 on a small farm in Normandy, France (Jaine). Both of his parents were former Parisian cooks and his upbringing and surroundings throughout his childhood certainly influenced his path to culinary success (Jaine). In 1932 at the age of twelve, Lenotre made his first dessert; it was a rice pudding that would spark his interest in pastry and lead him to the decision to make a career out of it (G. Lenotre 7). A year after making that rice pudding, Lenotre's father became ill and he was forced into finding a real profession in pastry, which he decisively chose over cabinetmaking (G. Lenotre 7)...
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