“Sometimes it comes down to simple things, very classic things that are delicious and that we grew up with… for example, in France we have the classic eclair, we have this flan… things that bring memories from our childhood.”
Chef Christophe Toury was raised in Chartres, and entered the world of pâtisserie at the age of fifteen. After training at the Ritz Paris, he went on to work at the Essex Hotel House in New York, the Four Seasons Resort in Maui, and then back to NYC with the Four Seasons Hotel, and the Mandarin Oriental. He became interested in chocolate during work with master chocolatier Jacques Torres, later developing Voilà Chocolat, a company that makes professional-grade chocolate making experiences available through classes and special events.
Last year, he was selected by Culinary Director François Payard to be the Head Patissier and Chocolatier of Ebb & Flow, a French bakery and cafe located at the One15 Brooklyn Marina. Ebb & Flow, provides viennoiserie, pastries, and chocolate, as well as savory treats like sandwiches and quiches.
“I want to make sure first of all to bring in as much fresh product as possible, so everything is made and baked almost à la minute. We try to stay authentic, and as for the freshness, I think every bakery is striving for fresh product, because the consumer will definitely know right away and keep coming back, I think they don’t want a product that’s been sitting too long, so I think if you play with that card, that’s the number one key.”
Ebb & Flow was just getting off the ground when COVID-19 struck, but while that may have slowed down other businesses, they decided to turn an obstacle into an opportunity.
“We were able to do many meals for hospitals and keep working, maybe even more because we were truly busy, we were delivering food to maybe five different locations weekly for the last three months of COVID-19. I think it brought a lot of enthusiasm for the neighbors to see us do that. We had a lot of empty outside parking here, so we started to offer them coffee and food and restrooms. I think people really enjoy what we did and were very respectful and donated money as well. I think many of those customers are back with us and continue to support us.”
Among Chef Toury’s signature dishes is his Flan Parisien, or flan pâtissier, a custard tart and a Gallic staple halfway between a pie and a crème brûlée. It is baked at high temperatures to develop a caramelized top, giving it a thick exterior that contrasts the smooth custard-like silkiness of the center. This combination creates deep caramel notes and a rustic appearance. Its simplicity allows pastry chefs to make it their own by making slight variations in flavor and texture. You can find the recipe below:
(by Chef Christophe Toury, Ebb & Flow)
2 1⁄3 cups milk
1⁄2 cup sugar
7 egg yolks
1⁄3 cup corn starch
1⁄4 cup unsalted butter
2 1⁄4 Tbsp salted butter
6 vanilla beans
2⁄3 cup heavy cream
Crustless Flan Parisien:
- Place the milk and the vanilla beans in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring to a boil.
- Keeping an eye on the milk, whisk the yolks and sugar in a bowl. Gradually add the cornstarch, and mix until smooth.
- Slowly add about 1/3 of the hot milk to the egg mixture while whisking rapidly. Combine the tempered egg mixture with the remaining milk.
- Place over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens. Boil for a few seconds longer.
- Remove the heavy-bottomed saucepan from the heat, add both salted and unsalted butter and heavy cream. Mix well.
- Pour the custard into a flexipan mold (9-inch) and freeze for 30 minutes.
- Bake at 340 degrees for 30 minutes. Add an additional 5-8 minutes at 380 degrees for color.
- Remove the Flan Parisien from the oven, and set on a rack to cool. Once the flan has cooled, refrigerate it, covered, for at least 2 hours before serving.
Flan Parisien avec Crust:
Coat a 9-inch tart or pie dish with a small amount of butter, then lightly dust with flour (to avoid the pastry sticking). Then, lay down a puff pastry or shortcrust in the tart or pie dish. When the filling is ready, fill the dish (frozen is better) with all the custard mixture. Flatten the top with a spatula to even the surface. Bake at 340 degrees for 30-35 minutes.