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The Vision of French Pastry Chef Nicolas Dolbeau and his Wife Sophie

After 20 years of experience working in the finest restaurants worldwide, 35-year-old French Pastry Chef Nicolas Dolbeau decided to start his project. Thanks to the support of his wife, Sophie, he created his company, bringing the art of pastry making to his home.

French Pastry Chef Nicolas Dolbeau

Nicolas & Sophie Dolbeau at their home in Juan-les-Pins / Photo ©Virginia D’Umas

Meeting French Pastry Chef Nicolas Dolbeau

When I arrived at 6 Rue Bricka in Juan-les-Pins, where Pastry chef Nicolas Dolbeau lives and works with his wife Sophie, I immediately felt surrounded by a warmth and welcoming feeling enhanced by the smell of freshly prepared muffins (the best ones I ever had). As soon as I entered their flat on the second floor, I found myself in the kitchen, which is the main star of their newly created workshops, which started in December last year. The idea is simple yet charming: bringing the art of pastry-making to everyone who wants to learn. “The idea behind the classes is that I take the recipes that I used to make in the big restaurants and adapt them so that everyone can do them again at home,” said Nicolas Dolbeau in an interview with Perfectly Provence.

French Pastry Chef Nicolas Dolbeau

Pastries made by chef Nicolas Dolbeau for Mother’s Day ©Photo credits: Sophie Dolbeau

French Pastry Class with a Pro

In four hours and in groups of a maximum of six (6) people, you can learn tips and tricks from one of the best pastry chefs and discover or implement a new passion. “We welcome people as customers and they often leave as friends, that’s because here they feel good, they feel at home,” said Sophie Dolbeau.

Partner in Pastry Making

Originally from Nice, Sophie started her career as an architect until she met Nicolas eight and a half years ago on a dating app. At the time, they were both very busy with their jobs, with little to no time for finding love. They immediately got along and started dating. At that time, Nicolas worked with Chef Julien Dugourd at “La Chèvre d’Or,” a five-star hotel with gastronomic restaurants in Eze. “Julien gave me a different vision of things, he taught me another way of working, a different way, but at the same time complementary to what I could already do. This allowed me to feed my knowledge and push my techniques to a different level. Plus, I worked in an incredible place with a sea view, ” said Chef Nicolas.

Sophie, who knew nothing about gastronomy then, believed that Nicolas worked in a bakery. When he kept telling her about his workplace, she thought, ‘He must truly love his job’…until she googled the place and was left speechless.

Sophie Dolbeau / Photo credits: Nicolas Dolbeau

Sophie Dolbeau / Photo ©Nicolas Dolbeau

That’s how her journey into fine dining and luxury hotels started, and it also became a passion of hers, not so much for the shiny parts of things as for the attention given to the smallest details and the people lucky enough to visit those places.

“We had access to a really incredible world and for me, as an architect, what amazed me most was all the little details of the crockery, the furniture, the fabrics and the lighting. I realized quickly that everything, every detail counts and is part of that wonder, that experience. Your eyes wander everywhere. You want to turn over the plates, touch the materials. I really loved it and on top of that, there’s the human experience of feeling welcome and taken care of”, said Sophie enthusiastically.

The chef and his wife want to convey this bubble of relaxation, well-being, and caring for people in their workshops. They bring a touch of luxury and gastronomy and the codes that go with it, i.e., a warm welcome, attention, and kindness to everyone at a modest price.

Humility – A Top-Class Pastry Chef’s Secret

Originally from Toulouse, Nicolas Dolbeau started his journey as a chef when he was only 15. The passion was passed on by his father, who is a cook. “I think it’s mainly through his profession and partly thanks to my sweet tooth, that I chose to do pastry-making, which is a manual profession, where you really work with your hands, and you create something from scratch,” said pâtissier Nicolas.

More than a job, this has always been his passion and didn’t make him shy away from working and learning from the best. He started his career almost immediately at one of the best hotels in the South of France, the Negresco Hotel in Nice, making pastries and bakery items. What Nicolas discovered working there is that, in the end, it’s a whole range of things that matter, not just the cooking. The design, the partnerships with brands, and the outdoor events are all part of one world. He stayed there for five (5) years, learning a lot, and once he felt comfortable with the newly acquired techniques of pastry making, he asked himself, ‘what now? What else can I learn where?’. That’s how he ended up at La Chèvre d’Or in Eze, where he worked for four (4) years until he and his wife felt the urge to travel and discover new places, as well as improve their English, which brought him to the Alain Ducasse restaurant at the Dorchester Hotel in London, alongside chef Jean-Philippe Blondet.

The Dorchester Hotel in London / Photo credits: Pierre Monetta

The Dorchester Hotel in London / Photo ©Pierre Monetta

“I ended up working there for two (2) years, and that was a really enriching experience, because I met the world of Alain Ducasse, his vision, his cooking and pastry-making, which is totally different from anything I’d done before”, said Mr. Dolbeau.

What distinguishes this young chef from many others is his thirst for knowledge, openness towards people, and desire to travel and discover new worlds to integrate into his pastry making. When I interviewed him, I got a sense that what truly makes his heartbeat is seeing the people taste and enjoy his creation; he’s not after fame and glory; Michelin stars don’t interest him, and big names don’t impress him, but what truly matters is the human connection enhanced through his pastries.

Wanderlust Brings New Opportunities

Morpheus Hotel in Macao / Photo credits: Nicolas Dolbeau

Morpheus Hotel in Macao / Photo ©Nicolas Dolbeau

After London, the couple moved to China, where Sophie completed a master’s degree in media marketing communication in Macau. She acquired skills such as putting together a press kit and writing press releases, which she used to promote their newly found idea. It also gave her know-how in consulting, which the couple offers to different restaurants and private clients in the South of France. The idea is always to pass on Nicolas’s knowledge and expertise, help the region make more homemade food, and promote clean eating.

“In fact, we try to select restaurants which we feel share the same values as us. Restaurants that do home cooking, which are passionate about what they are doing but perhaps a little stagnant, or which specialize in cooking but less in their pastry-making and we offer our expertise. The support goes from increasing their range of pastries, to offering photo shoots or designing their menus”, said Chef Nicolas.

In Macao, he worked for one year at the Alain Ducasse restaurant of the Morpheus Hotel, which received several architectural awards for its grand lobby.

For their visa, the couple needed to be married and even if at first it seemed a very rushed and not at all romantic decision, Sophie and Nicolas, as always, ended up following their gut and taking chances at married life. With very little time before their departure, they managed to have their dream wedding in the Salon Versailles at the Negresco Hotel, surrounded by their loved ones and Nicolas’ favourite cake: the croquembouche, French for “crunch in the mouth,” which is a cone-shaped tower of cream puffs bound together by caramel. The only flaw of this special day was that the trolley with the wedding cake on, pushed by the waiter, got stuck in a floor sealing, and…the pièce montée cracked. “I ran as fast as I could to the other end of the room …and there I caught it…” said the proud groom, adding: “here’s our wedding picture to prove it.”

Sophie and Nicolas Dolbeau with their wedding cake / Photo credits: Meghann Stanley

Sophie and Nicolas Dolbeau with their wedding cake / Photo ©Meghann Stanley

What’s Next for this Adventurous Couple?

“We’re trying to create unique moments in unique places thanks to the encounter of architecture and gastronomy. Our goal is to create experiences based around our senses. So we’re thinking about this concept of doing workshops in emblematic places that bring out the best in people, and this region is perfect for this,” said Sophie in our interview.

Finally, there are lots of things that can be done. The couple has already met with the director of the Menton Gardens, where they would like to offer pastry classes pairing their love for sweets with the landscapes of the Côte d’Azur. Another idea is to match pastry and perfume to create pastries inspired by specific scents and collaborate with perfume houses. “If we could develop a concept or a brand and either franchise it, or develop it abroad, or even just do consulting assignments, we would like that very much. We love the South of France, but our passion is also meeting people and diversifying our activities through what we do and who we meet”, added Madame Dolbeau.

Although Chef Nicolas doesn’t like to put himself at the forefront, there is a dessert he created when he was working for Alain Ducasse in Macao, and one may wonder whether it could one day inspire his signature dish.
The dessert is all about cocoa. He used cocoa beans and nibs to create a bean truffle.

French Pastry Chef Nicolas Dolbeau Chocolate Dessert

Truffle with cocoa nibs / Photo ©Sophie Dolbeau

“I’ve imitated cooks a bit, you know, when they make dishes, and they often grate a truffle on the dish. Well, in fact, I created a dessert all around chocolate, with all the different textures and tastes involved. So I put it in a little bowl with the real cocoa nib and the truffle on top and the waiter would come and grate the cocoa truffle over the dessert as if it were a cooked dish. That was something I’d never done before,” said the pastry chef with sparkles in his eyes. Of course, he had to stay within the constraints of Alain Ducasse’s cuisine, transforming his pastries and trying to superimpose them on his vision, which is very hard.

French Pastry Chef Nicolas Dolbeau and Alain Ducasse

Alain Ducasse & Nicolas Dolbeau / Photo ©Macau Daily Times

Perfectly Provence will follow this promising couple’s vision very closely, leaving you, for now, with a quote from Sophie Dolbeau: “Even if you’re making the most beautiful building in the world, you’re not doing it for yourself. It’s for the people who are going to live in it or who are going to explore it. In the end, the people will have the last word, who will give their grade, if I may say so.”

Contact Information

French Pastry Chef Nicolas Dolbeau (website)
The website has additional information on the workshop schedule, classes, and how to book your spot.

Instagram: @nicolasdolbeau

Facebook: @ndolbeau

Guest Writer Bio

Virginia D’Umas, originally from Switzerland, moved to the South of France two years ago with her partner and 3-year-old daughter after spending the last eight years in London. She recently finished her Master’s in International Journalism at the ‘École Du Journalisme’ in Nice. She writes articles in Italian and English for online magazines such as Stylezza Magazine, inProvenza and Perfectly Provence.

She also works as a freelance journalist for Radio Nizza, the Italian radio of the Côte d’Azur. At 37, her passion for writing, exploring new places, and meeting new people made her want to pursue this new career.

Her motto is: “It’s never too late to follow your dreams.”

Please follow Virginia on Instagram @virgy_andthenews.


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