city of lights


A few weeks ago …

This following text I wrote at the gate at CDG, waiting to board my flight home to Beirut.

It is with a tear on my eye I am leaving Paris. I just love the time I am  privileged to spend in the City Of Lights. But for me it is not the lights, it is something entirely different . It is a cliché,  the bakeries, cheese shops, butcher shops, or just any kind a shop, that has been around for more than ten years.

I grew up in Vienna. “then what are you crying about”, I hear you say. Well, exactly that. I learned my trade in one of those “old” Viennese bakeries. Yes, the one that closed twenty years ago. The one with the butcher shop, next door. That also closed twenty years ago. In Paris, they are still open. Even on a Sunday afternoon people queue for their FRESH baguette, and the go next door to THEIR fromagerie to pick up a slap of cheese or two for Sunday lunch. There are not many places (cities) where you can do this anymore …. certainly not in Vienna.

So, what Paris is NOT, is an overly modern city. Some may  even say, Paris is an old city. It. Certainly seems that way. Already the arrival at CDG, one feels like  traveling back in time (This gives fuel for an entirely separate ranting). And you will not lose this feeling throughout your stay.

As my mother never fails to remind me of, is : that I am already middle-aged. And therefore  I will always fit (That’s what I say). NO, I do not have a problem with my “midlife crisis”. It looks like others do, but I am comfortable with my white hair, I am comfortable with my age, and I am content with the fact, that I do not have to chase women half my age. Unlike some of my peers …. .

One of the highlights was yesterday’s unexpected meeting with Gerard Mulot, however brief it may have been. But I do like his Gugelhupf, and I felt like letting him know …. that’s all.

This morning I had Breakfast at Patisserie Viennoise, and when the chef came out, I let him know that I am a Viennese Chef Patissier, and I love coming for breakfast and their chocolat chaud.

That his Apfelstrudel is not exactly world-class, I didn’t tell him. But maybe on my next trip I’ll offer a demonstration. Who knows, him AND I make new friends that way.


Published by ChefThomas

… born in Upper Austria’s Wels, I have done most of my growing up in Vienna. Only by sheer accident did I fall into the trade of Pâtissier. After a short apprentice ship at a Viennese Bakery, I was accepted for apprentice ship, at "K.u.K. Hofzuckerbäcker Demel’s Söhne", one of the oldest patisseries in Vienna. Learning the trade from the very basics, as the Emperor two Centuries ago would have expected from a "Pâtissier to the Royal and Imperial Court" (That is what the older Pâtissier still calls himself). I soon took to travel the world. From patisseries in America, to hotels in the Far East, Africa and the Middle East, did I accumulate a wealth of experience, ranging from bakeries to first class restaurants in major hotels to banquets for Presidents, Sultans and Heads of States and other famous, infamous and not so famous people. But the true excitement for me is in the "Viennese Café". Not just as an occupation, but as an institution in it own right.

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