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Article Published on: 30 MAR 2023 |

François Payard is a third-generation French Pastry Chef born in Nice on July 16th, 1966. He cultivated his passion for the art of Pastry as a child in his grandfather’s acclaimed shop, Au Nid des Friandises on the Riviera. He grew up surrounded by delicious, classic French pastries, a tradition carried on by his parents and grandparents for over fifty years. After honing his skills in classic pastry from his family’s side, François moved to Paris where he learned the artistry and refinement of transforming traditional desserts into exquisite plated presentations.

His talent and originality earned him positions in several of France’s finest kitchens. In 1988, François held his first position as Pastry Chef in Paris at the Three Michelin-starred La Tour d’Argent. The following year he went on to become Pastry Chef in the kitchen of Alain Senderens at the Three Michelin-starred Lucas Carton. In these renowned restaurants, he met the challenge of creating dessert menus worthy of a three-star Michelin rating. Throughout his career, Francois has received many honors. His desire to travel and discover new cultures brought him to New York in 1990 where he was eager to experiment with new ideas, flavors, and techniques. His first position in New York as Pastry Chef at the Four-Star Le Bernardin, challenged him to create a new dessert repertoire. Francois became known for his beautifully presented creations, bursting with unique flavors and balanced taste. In 1993, he joined Chef Daniel Boulud for the opening of the Four-Star Restaurant Daniel where he delighted guests with his chocolate and seasonal fruit menus. In 1995, The James Beard Foundation named François “Pastry Chef of the Year” in recognition of his accent on flavor combined with a unique sense of pastry design.

François was awarded Chef of the Year in 2015 and also received City Harvest’s Award of Excellence in 2016. Francois has opened bakeries and patisseries at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, as well as multiple locations in Manhattan, Japan, and Korea. Not just a chef, He is also the author of the popular cookbooks “Bite Size: Elegant Recipes for Entertaining”, Simply Sensational Desserts,” “Chocolate Epiphany: Exceptional Cookies, Cakes, and Confections for Everyone” and “Payard Desserts.” Francois has recently taken the helm at Brasserie Estuary in cooperation with the ONE°15 Brooklyn Marina, Brooklyn’s gateway to New York Harbor, which opens summer of 2019. Francois is highly sought after as a culinary consultant by restaurateurs and pastry chefs around the globe and is at work on an exciting new publishing project.


Beautiful homemade croissants, each containing a bar of high-quality dark chocolate, make for an impressive and indulgent addition to a breakfast spread. Everybody in France seems to eat croissants daily, especially pain au chocolat. Some prefer a thin slice of chocolate folded into the dough—me, I like a big bar. No matter how much you put inside, it should be very good quality.

Photo by Polina Tankilevitch


  • 1 tbsp. yeast

  • 1⁄2 cup milk

  • 1⁄3 cup sugar

  • 1 1⁄2 cups plus

  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, barely softened; plus 3 tbsp. melted and cooled

  • 1 tbsp. powdered milk

  • 1 tbsp. kosher salt

  • 4 cups flour

  • 18 1/2"-wide x 3"-long bittersweet chocolate bars

  • 1 egg, mixed with 1 tbsp. water, for egg wash


  • STEP 1: Stir together yeast and ½ cup water heated to 115° together in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook; let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes. Stir in milk, sugar, and 3 tbsp. melted butter, powdered milk, and salt; add flour. Mix on medium speed until a stiff dough forms, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a work surface and form into a thick square; wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.

  • STEP 2: Place the remaining butter on a sheet of plastic wrap; cover it with another sheet. Using a rolling pin, pound, and shape butter into a 6″, ½″-thick square; set aside. Using a rolling pin, roll dough into a 16″ square on a lightly floured work surface. Unwrap the butter square, and place it on the dough so its corners line up with the middle point of each side of the dough square; fold the dough corners over the butter so they meet in the center. Roll the dough into a 12″ x 9″ rectangle, and then tri-fold the dough like a letter. Roll the dough into a 12″ x 9″ rectangle and repeat folding. Wrap in plastic wrap; chill for 30 minutes. Repeat rolling and folding dough twice more; chill for 1 hour.

  • STEP 3: Roll dough into a 20″ x 14″ x ¼″ thick sheet; halve lengthwise. Cut each half into about 9 triangles, about 3 ½″-wide at their base; cut a ½″-deep slit in the middle of each wide base. Place 1 chocolate bar parallel to the base near the cut; holding the tip of the opposite corner down, roll the base over the chocolate toward the tip until it forms a tight roll. Place croissant on a parchment paperlined baking sheet, tip side down, and brush with egg wash. Repeat with remaining triangles, bars, and egg wash. Let croissants sit until doubled in size, about 2 ½–3 hours.

  • STEP 4: Heat oven to 375°. Working with one baking sheet at a time, brush croissants with more egg wash; bake until deep golden brown, about 20 minutes.

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