The Frenchman with flair

By Sarah Britton

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Taste New product development Product development Uk

The Frenchman with flair
Grand Marnier's pastry chef Nicolas Boussin tells Sarah Britton about the joys of working with alcohol

What is the most important aspect of your work?

The most important thing is the combination of ingredients. When you add alcohol, such as Grand Marnier, to a product it is vital that you can taste it in the first bite.

What is the most exciting part of your work?

It's very interesting because every time it's different. Sometimes I'm asked for cake, sometimes chocolate and sometimes a cookery dish. I love finding new taste combinations. For example, last year, I created a new Christmas log cake with chocolate orange and Grand Marnier.

How does the development process usually work?

Normally, I have a meeting with marketing and research and development departments and I am given a brief. After a little brainstorming, I need to produce the first prototype. Then we adapt it - with alcohol you need to have enough, but not too much. The last step is the consumer taste test.

What are the most challenging aspects to new product development (NPD)?

After an NPD meeting you have nothing - just a brief - and it's always a short lead-time. It can be very difficult. Also, sometimes you have a good idea, but it's not possible for the factory to make it because it's too hard or too expensive and I have to adapt it.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I have a lot of ideas every week, just when I'm walking down the street. I always look around and say if I see a flower shop, then that might inspire me. Plus, when I'm in a restaurant I'm always looking for new tastes. I try all the time to be inspired by things.


What's your favourite dish?

When I came to Grand Marnier my dream was to eat and drink Grand Marnier at the same time and last year I made this possible by creating a cocktail with a layer of dessert on top. Sometimes you have a good idea, but you have to take time.

Who is the most influential chef?

The most influential chef of the last 10 years is Ferran Adria, the head chef of El Bulli in Spain. He's very creative and has brought many new concepts to cooking.

What's your favourite restaurant?

In Paris I like Restaurant Les Ambassadeurs at the Hôtel de Crillon. Chef Jean-François Piège is very passionate about the cooking - it's modern and classical at the same time.

What are the key differences between French and UK consumers?

In France we have to explain that it's not necessary to put a lot of good quality alcohol in the product. In the UK, you are not afraid to have just a little alcohol.

What is your best piece of cookery advice?

Don't try to make a dish that is too sophisticated - just a good recipe with natural taste. If you have chocolate orange, then that should be the main flavour - not cinnamon! Real taste is important. FM

Related topics NPD

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