Chef Chat, Part 1: Roy Shvartzapel's Culinary Journey to Common Bond

Categories: Chef Chat, Sweets

Chuck Cook Photography
Along with the baked goods, Common Bond features a full coffee bar and uses high-quality beans both from local sources and outside the state.
EOW: How did you end up working at various high-end restaurants, like elBulli in Spain?

RS: When I got to New York after culinary school, I was determined to work at the very best places. I had a tireless work ethic. 20-hour days were commonplace for me: two jobs so I could work at a place for dishwasher money and learn from the best and then be a server somewhere else so I could pay rent to live on a sofa.

My first job in New York was at Bouley Bakery. I met a gentleman, who is now a great friend and my mentor, who was Pierre Hermé's lead chef when he opened in Paris. We met by chance on the street and I knew I had to work for him.

For the first two months they wouldn't pay me and I didn't care. Finally, they paid me $400 a week.

I met Pierre Hermé at a special dinner for Alain Ducasse. [Hermé] extended an invitation to come work in Paris. With no money in hand and credit cards in pockets, I boarded a plane. My parents helped as much as they could. I worked for Pierre Hermé for seven months. He made a call to Ferran Adrià in 2006 and I spent that season at elBulli. When I finished, I spent time in Italy with Iginio Massari. He is the Pierre Hermé of Italian pastries; the godfather amongst godfathers of pastry chefs in Italy.

I specifically went to learn about what I think is the most difficult yeasted pastry there is to make: traditional panettone. Once again, it was an opportunity to learn something the right way from the right person.

This story continues on the next page.

Location Info

Common Bond

1706 Westheimer, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

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