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Young French pastry chef says ‘love’ is key to perfect croissant

The 22-year-old’s artistic viennoiseries have become a viral sensation, with people admiring their colour and neatness

Maxence Lelait’s croissants and pains au chocolat were a hit on social media Pic: Maxence Lelait / @ElCuistoo / Twitter

Maxence Lelait, 22, shot to social media stardom earlier this year when his colourful and aesthetically stunning croissants and pains au chocolat went viral. 

The young baker was selling the viennoiseries out of a burger restaurant where he worked in Montreuil (Seine-Saint-Denis), and he had queues of people stretching around the block waiting to taste one of his pasties. 

He ended up selling out his entire stock in under half an hour on some days. 

He spent a couple of years perfecting his pastry-making skills, starting out during the first Covid lockdown in March 2020.

Read more: French baker’s coloured ‘art’ croissants draw queues round the block

He has now moved on to new pastures, joining the kitchen at the two-Michelin-starred restaurant La Marine in Noirmoutier-en-l'Île (Vendée). 

The Connexion caught up with him to ask about his rise to fame, the secret behind a perfect croissant and what is next for him and his career. 

At the point when your viennoiseries became really popular on social media and you were selling out in under half an hour…how many croissants and pains au chocolat did you sell in a typical day?

I sold roughly 400 to 500 viennoiseries each weekend. It was only me making them, on top of my main job at the restaurant where I worked.

What was your reaction when you saw queues around the block of people waiting to buy your viennoiseries?

I was really amazed at that. I didn’t expect it but it was a pleasure to see that my work was starting to be recognised after having invested so much time in it.

Do you prefer making croissants or pains au chocolat?

I don't have a preference but I particularly like the technicality of croissants as the shaping is much more complicated than for pains au chocolat.

What is your opinion on the term ‘chocolatine’, used instead of pain au chocolat in certain areas of France, such as in Nouvelle-Aquitaine and Occitanie?

[Laughing] I don't have an opinion on it. It's just a different way to call it. I don’t mind what it's called as long as it's well done.

What is the secret behind making an excellent croissant or pain au chocolat?

There is no real secret but the main element is definitely investing time into finding the right method and recipe. You have to be consistent throughout the process and then just put in all the love that you can give. 

What is the best croissant you have ever eaten (not your own)?

I can’t really recall ever having tasted an ‘excellent croissant’. Unfortunately these techniques are being lost in France and I want to bring back the appetite for work well done.

You are now working for the two Michelin starred restaurant La Marine in Noirmoutier-en-l'Île. What challenges do you expect to face? What do you look forward to the most?

This new adventure will be very interesting because I'm starting from scratch. New people, products, materials. 

I hope to have another kind of recognition after my time in this great facility. Because [recognition on social] networks is good but the opinion of top chefs is very important to me and I can potentially make a name for myself in the exclusive world of starred restaurants.

Who will feed the people of Montreuil now that you are gone?

I have some great colleagues taking over at Avec Amour - Le Burger and they are already doing a wonderful job. 

The croissants and pains au chocolat are now finished but the delicious burgers are still available seven days a week at Avec Amour. 

Will you continue to make beautiful viennoiseries?

Yes, they will be back in Noirmoutier! I don't have a date yet but it will happen.

Related articles 

Croissants, cheese, strikes - what makes the French, French? 

The Austrian who transformed 'le petit déj' French breakfasts 

‘A nice sheen’, ‘a honeycombed crumb’: France’s best baguette revealed

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