Even at a young age, while growing up on his family’s farm in Brittany, France, Jean-Yves Charon knew what he wanted to be when he grew up: a baker. At age 16, he began apprenticing as a pastry chef in Rennes, eventually traveling extensively in France, London, and the United States to learn everything he could about the art of fine baked goods. In the 1987, he founded his own bakery, which would eventually evolve into the award-winning Galaxy Desserts.
Twenty-one-plus years later, Charon still uses time-honored techniques and natural ingredients to create handcrafted classics, including many exclusive to William-Sonoma. His creations, which include everything from savory croissants to breakfast rings, are just as visually stunning as they are delicious.
We caught up with the pastry chef and bakery about the latest pastry trends, his baking philosophy, and the one sweet he can’t live without.
What do you think sets your pastries apart from the rest?
Jean-Yves Charon: I like things raw, pure, and wholesome—the least possible manufactured with no preservatives, no additives, and no GMOs. For instance, I do a chocolate mousse, and it’s only cream and chocolate. That’s it.
Are there any interesting trends you’ve been noticing in pastry lately?
JYC: People want to try some combination of savory and sweet at the same time, like chocolate and bacon, for instance.
The kouign-amann seems to be having a moment in the United States. Why do you think that is?
JYC:The kouign-amann is a very rich croissant, like a croissant on steroids. You add more butter and sugar than any other croissant product. It’s from where I’m from, Brittany, and I was one of the first to do it in the U.S. With Williams-Sonoma. It’s unusual in that it’s crispy, but it’s still very flaky dough. The secret to a good one is a lot of butter and sugar. There’s another trend, too: it’s back to butter.
If you could have one pastry for the rest of your life, what would it be?
JYC: Only one pastry? A great chocolate croissant with really good chocolate inside.