Pastry chef Thierry Busset. Lia Crowe photography

How sweet it is for pastry chef

Thierry Busset brings the flavours of France to Vancouver

  • May. 3, 2021 7:30 a.m.

– Story by Gail Johnson Photography by Lia Crowe

Macarons, brioche, financiers and sablés: these are a few of the exquisite treats on display, like so many pieces of art or jewellery, in cases imported from France that were specifically designed to showcase chocolates and pastries in the new Thierry Café in Vancouver’s Mount Pleasant.

French-raised master chocolatier and pâtissier Thierry Busset has trained and worked with some of the globe’s top culinary talents, earning respect as a pastry chef the world over. None other than Gordon Ramsay, a former colleague, once called him “one of the finest pastry chefs in the world.”

Now, Thierry is settling into his new home, the 2,000-square-foot café and 4,000-square-foot production space at Main and Kingsway. Here, he honours his roots with all things buttery, chocolaty, flaky and finely crafted.

It all started in Auvergne, France, where Thierry learned to cook by his mother’s side.

“We grew up with plenty of food around us,” he recalls. “My mother always cooked for us. Every time we went to school, we came home for lunch. Cooking was all around me, and she encouraged me.”

Throughout his career, Thierry has taken on roles at several prestigious Relais & Chateaux properties and Michelin-star restaurants like London’s Le Gavroche, where he worked with the late Albert Roux and Michel Roux Jr.

What skills he didn’t learn in one pastry kitchen he would set out to pick up in the next, acquiring time-honoured techniques such as how to make pâte de fruits and nougats. During mandatory military service, he made pastry for the French government. He has also worked in a ski resort in the south of France and on an island in the French Caribbean.

On a recommendation from Ramsay (whom Thierry knew pre-Hell’s Kitchen and four-letter-worded fame), he spent several years working with legendary chef Marco Pierre White, helping elevate his London restaurant from two Michelin stars to three.

“The pressure is not to get the three stars but to keep it,” he says. “At a Michelin-star restaurant, you learn service. You have to be perfect, and you have to be fast and organized. It’s very great training.”

One of his day-to-day tasks at Marco Pierre White was to dip chocolate by hand. Even now, at his sophisticated, airy new digs—where he has access to chocolate tempering equipment and a chocolate cooling tunnel, along with temperature-controlled storage, test kitchens and packaging rooms—he prefers doing much of the dipping by hand rather than by machine.

“It’s a more natural technique, and it’s good to learn if the machine ever breaks,” he says. “For all the people who work for me, it’s good for them to learn it.”

The travel bug brought him to Vancouver, and he fell in love with his surroundings. He joined Toptable Group, first working at West before heading the pastry program at CinCin Ristorante.

The second location of Thierry comes almost a decade after the first on Alberni Street. Like its downtown counterpart, the elegant East Vancouver outpost boasts the group’s trademark palm wood doors.

In each location, these doors open to the aromas of France, from freshly baked croissants to all sorts of ganache chocolates. Made of milk and dark and white chocolate, the artful pieces contain ingredients such as gin, Quebec maple syrup, shaved tonka beans, coconut pulp and raspberry liqueur. Macarons, in the colours of a Monet garden, are regularly offered with different flavours, from cassis to salted caramel.

Among Thierry’s signature desserts is the gold-leaf-adorned chocolate marquise: the rich, dense cake comprises hazelnut dacquoise, salted caramel, crisp praline and chocolate mousse. It’s a showstopper that his wife concocted with him. (The couple has three children together, ranging in age from seven to 12.) If it’s chocolate you’re craving but can’t make up your mind, the chocolate trio is for you; it’s a chocolate sponge cake layered with white, dark and milk chocolate mousse. The pretty passionfruit cake is especially popular, bright and refreshing with elegant miniature pink macarons dotting the bottom of a mound of passionfruit mousse with white genoise, all topped passionfruit gelée.

The café also offers savoury items such as quiche Lorraine with thick-cut bacon, organic vegetable quiche, a variety of croissants (including croissant au jambon) and more, with sandwiches coming soon.

Thierry loves the idea of coming in for a petit four with Thierry Café’s signature coffee—a special blend made in collaboration with 49th Parallel. Except that he’ll be having something savoury: “I’ve been doing pastry for 36 years,” he says. “I like to cook for family and friends, but I don’t eat pastry except to test it.”

Story courtesy of Boulevard Magazine, a Black Press Media publication

Like Boulevard Magazine on Facebook and follow them on Instagram

Food

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Eliot White-Hill, Kwulasultun is the recipient of this year’s City of Nanaimo Culture and Heritage Award for Emerging Cultural Leader. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)
Eliot White-Hill, Kwulasultun is the recipient of this year’s City of Nanaimo Culture and Heritage Award for Emerging Cultural Leader. (Josef Jacobson/News Bulletin)
Multi-disciplinary Snuneymuxw artist named ‘Emerging Cultural Leader’

Eliot White-Hill, Kwulasultun, receives City of Nanaimo Culture and Heritage Award

The Village on Third in Nanaimo won the Judges’ Choice award as top overall entry at the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board Commercial Building Awards. (Photo submitted)
Nanaimo mixed-use building wins top prize at commercial building awards

Village on Third was Judges’ Choice winner at VIREB Commercial Building Awards

Nanaimo RCMP had been seeking help finding a 50-year-old woman who hadn’t been seen for two days. She has since been found safe. (Submitted photo)
UPDATE: Nanaimo RCMP report that woman who had been missing has been found

50-year-old located and is ‘safe and sound,’ say police

Commercial Street and other areas of Nanaimo’s downtown are now part of a new business improvement area following a petition-against process this spring. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: BIA process wasn’t fair to small business

Mom-and-pop shops will be challenged to pay the levy during hard times, says letter writer

Nanaimo RCMP report that a number of scams, many of them familiar, have recently resurfaced in Nanaimo and cost victims thousands of dollars. (File photo)
Nanaimo man scammed after lending money and receiving fake gold jewelry in return

RCMP provide details of several recent scams to warn the public

The Village on Third in Nanaimo won the Judges’ Choice award as top overall entry at the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board Commercial Building Awards. (Photo submitted)
Nanaimo mixed-use building wins top prize at commercial building awards

Village on Third was Judges’ Choice winner at VIREB Commercial Building Awards

Nanaimo author Haley Healey recently launched her second book, ‘Flourishing and Free: More Stories of Trailblazing Women of Vancouver Island.’ (Photo courtesy Kristin Wenberg)
Nanaimo author pens second book on ‘trailblazing’ Vancouver Island women

Haley Healey’s ‘Flourishing and Free’ follows her 2020 debut ‘On Their Own Terms’

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

People pass the red hearts on the COVID-19 Memorial Wall mourning those who have died, opposite the Houses of Parliament on the Embankment in London, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. On May 3, the British government announced that only one person had died of COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kirsty Wigglesworth
For a view of a COVID-19 future, Canadians should look across the pond

Britain, like Canada, is one of the only countries in the world to delay second doses for several months

The body of Brenda Ware, 35, was found along Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park on Thursday, May 6, 2021. (RCMP handout)
RCMP ask for tips after woman’s body found in Kootenay National Park

Brenda Ware was found along Highway 93 in the park, 54 kilometres north of the town of Radium

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

Nanaimo city council has voted to deploy speed-reduction measures for the summer along Departure Bay Road and to consult with area residents and road users to explore ways to further reduce vehicle speeds in the Departure Bay Beach area. (News Bulletin file photo)
City will again lower speed limit on Departure Bay Road to 40km/h

City of Nanaimo will consult with stakeholders for ideas to reduce speeds past the beach

Canada’s chief public health officer is reminding Canadians even those who are fully vaccinated are not immune from transmitting the COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns full vaccination does not equal full protection from COVID-19

Post-inoculation, Theresa Tam says the risk of asymptomatic infection and transmission is far lower but not obsolete

Most Read