Salvatore Martone has worked under chef Joël Robuchon for over a decade. Martone currently oversees pastry production at all of Robuchon's U.S. restaurants as corporate executive pastry chef, but he spends most of his time leading the team at the recently opened L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon in New York City.
Having been on the menu since the restaurant's opening about six months ago, "Le Papillon Chocolat Azélia" features smooth hazelnut chocolate crémeux, coffee chantilly and praliné ice cream. It's an extremely beautiful and artistic composition featuring Martone's favorite flavor combination: chocolate and hazelnut.
When visiting chef Martone at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon, he demonstrated how to make the chocolate branch for the lacey butterfly to perch upon and a realistic-looking edible rock. "For the branch . . . I did something that you're not supposed to do, which is put water in chocolate." He goes on to explain that doing so adds a necessary viscosity to the chocolate to lend dimension. Making the rocks starts with piping coffee chantilly into custom silicone molds. The chantilly then gets frozen, coated in white chocolate and then dipped in heated water with droplets of black cocoa butter to give each rock its design.
Though papillon translates to "butterfly" in English, this dessert actually started as a beehive concept. Over a period of four months (or up to a year for some concepts), Martone took his time to let the dish lead him where it wanted to go instead of the other way around. "In the creative process, you always have to leave a little room for surprise. You almost need to surprise yourself in the sense that only when you do something and wait for the reaction can you come up with something new—otherwise you always end up with something you already know."
Watch the full demonstration and learn more about chef Martone's creative process below.
Photo by Evan Sung.