When a renowned French chef dishes out his delectable concoctions in an ultra-chic pastry boutique in the heart of Chennai, you'd feel pure Ecstasy. That's exactly what Chef Mickael Besse brings to you in Ecstasy, the newest pastry shop in town. Located inside Sathyam Cinemas, the first thing you'd notice about Ecstasy is its trendy urban styling and a cool contemporary decor. Once inside, you are transported to a juxtaposition of international brands with cheerful Maitre D' welcoming you to sample some of the most delicious creations in this part of the world. Ecstasy is just a beginning to creating more such international experiences in Chennai. Chef Mickael Besse takes time to share some views about his creation.
1) When did Ecstasy open in Chennai? Is this concept the first-of-its-kind in Chennai/India?
Ecstasy opened to the public on the 7th of September 2007. Yes of course, it's the first in terms of an exclusive pastry shop outside the hotel. The concept of Ecstasy is to give the best international food experience to our guests.
2) Ecstasy's USP seems to be the convergence of the best in the world of food, lighting and furniture. That's an amazing concept. Could you elaborate a bit on the lighting and furnishing aspects?
Yes, we use the best ingredients in the world like Mascarpone cheese for Tiramisu, Philadelphia cream cheese for Cheese Cake, Valrhona chocolates for all chocolates bonbons, pastries, ice cream etc. Concerning the furniture, we have chairs imported from, Italy. All the crockery and cutlery are from the worlds' leading brands like Nambe, Guy Degrenne, Rosenthal, Spiegelau and Sambonet.
3) Looks like you procure the chocolate ingredients from Valrhona. Does that include cocoa beans and flavoring ingredients like vanilla, caramel etc.? Are the chocolates made in Ecstasy's kitchen though?
No. Unfortunately we cannot buy the cocoa beans as it is necessary to have some heavy machine for making it and it is a long process. The Valrhona factory has a very good selection of Grand Cru chocolates and I don't think it is absolutely necessary to customize the raw chocolate for getting better quality. We have selected the Grand Cru chocolates only from different beans that have origins in the likes of Forestaro from Amazonie, Criollo from Central America, Trinitario and others from the world over.
All chocolates and bonbons are made in house with the best of ingredients like pistachio, almond, Illy Arabica coffee, crushed roasted cocoa beans, Earl Grey tea, and many others only to be discovered at Ecstasy.
4) Ecstasy takes pride in using the freshest ingredients for its food. Are these imported on a very frequent basis from Europe and other countries? How about fruits like blueberry, strawberry etc.? Does Ecstasy use a lot of locally available ingredients as well?
The first idea when we create a new shop is to use on priority all best ingredients available locally (figs, vanilla pods, Alphonso mangoes and the like). If it isn't available, we try to customize them.
For the rest of the products (Valrhona chocolates, Mascarpone and Philadelphia cheese, blueberries etc), we import them via certain agencies in India according to our consumption.
5) Does Ecstasy plan on offering any daily specials? What are the most popular sweets in Ecstasy and is there a plan to also carry flower/herb-flavored or liquor infused chocolate truffles in the future?
We don't have any daily special dishes but we change the menu, display, drinking desserts, tea and coffee, beverages, chocolate bonbons and ice cream three times a year.
The most popular sweets are undoubtedly ''Tiramisu'' and ''Le Chocolatier'' for Display desserts, ''Fraises au Vin Epic é et Glace a l'Huile d'Olivee'' for plated dishes, ''Chocolat Liegeois'' for Drinking Dessert, ''Hawain Blue Mountain Kona'' for Coffee, ''Darjeling White'' for Tea, ''Les Trois Roses'' for the ice cream dessert, and ''Freezing'' and ''Palou'' for chocolates bonbons.
We have planned to bring some new ideas in the next menu, something with herbs, but I cannot tell you where and how as I want to keep it as a surprise for the customer.
6) Is there an Asian-style tea-tasting bar for sampling premium teas that Ecstasy offers?
No we don't have a tea tasting bar but you can enjoy some of the premium teas with or without a dessert. A chocolate bonbon can also be a very good compliment for tea.
7) Could you share a bit of your professional background? Did you specialize in baking and pastry making in a French pastry school?
I have learnt pastries and kitchen during 3 years in a French pastry school. I have worked as pastry chef in some of the biggest Michelin Star Hotels like Mister Régis Marcon at ''L'Auberge et Clos des Cimes'' in Saint Bonnet le Froid in France, Mister Henriroux at ''La Pyramide'' at Vienne in France, Mister Roger Souvereyns at ''Le Scholteshof'' in Hasselt in Belgium. I have also travelled to different countries for demonstrations including Saint-Petersburg in Russia, in Tokyo and Kyoto in Japan ....
8) Why did you decide to take up a culinary career in Chennai? What attracted you to a relatively traditional city like Chennai? How do you rate Chennai among the most popular culinary destinations in the world like France, Italy, Spain, Tokyo , London , New York and Las Vegas?
I have decided to come to Chennai because I got the opportunity to take care of the inter projects from A to Z in a multiplex for the first time. I have travelled to many countries but had never come to India. I heard a lot about this country and it presented me with a wonderful opportunity to give the best of my knowledge to every body. Mr. Kiran Reddy (owner of Sathyam Cinemas) was a big influence in my final decision to come since he wants the best for his customers. Sathyam Cinemas has a lot of projects in the pipeline and it is a privilege and honour to be associated with all of them.
9) Are there any plans to expand the food range in Ecstasy to include savory items like panini, quiche, soups, salads, savory crepes etc.?
Not presently. As I have mentioned above, we have many others projects coming up inside and outside the complex, and in some of the other south Indian cities.
10) What is your vision for the future, in terms of making Ecstasy a global brand?
We have just begun looking at some other options.
Ecstasy is open daily from 12 noon - 11 pm.
Photos copyright: Ecstasy