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Behind the Kitchen Door: François Payard's Little Gem of a Kitchen

Video Length: 4:36
Produced by: Robyn Doyon-Aitken; text, floor plan, and photos by Charles Miller, except where noted

Text by Charles Miller

François Payard's bakeries, be they in Las Vegas, New York City, Japan, or Korea, are like confectionery jewelry boxes. The pastries, displayed under glass counters, are a parade of glistening gems in every color of the rainbow with edible flourishes that often raise the question, "How does he do that?"

But for François, making exquisite desserts is what he was born to do. A third-generation pastry chef, he grew up on the French Riviera, moving to Paris in his 20s to hone his skills in a number of three-Michelin-starred restaurants. In 1990, he came to America, delighting patrons at Manhattan's Le Bernardin and Restaurant Daniel, and then opening his first shop in 1997. He seemingly hasn't taken a breath since, and now owns 12 bakeries in three countries.

At home, François rarely bakes. He and his wife, a vegetarian, cook simply and well, focusing on fresh produce and whole grains. But when they bought their Manhattan apartment, it needed a rehab if any real cooking was to take place. Luckily, François has an architect's grasp of space, color, and composition, so he designed it all himself. He made no drawings; he just explained what he wanted to his builder. And just like his pastry creations, the resulting kitchen is a little gem.

In this Behind the Kitchen Door slideshow, François explains why he kicked the refrigerator out of the kitchen and shares photos from his childhood, his early days in New York, and his bakeries and patisseries.  

Giveaway: In his slideshow, François calls his SodaStream the best $100 he's ever spent. Visit the giveaway post and leave a comment for your chance to win one. Update: Now closed.

Want to tour more kitchens? View all of the Behind the Kitchen Door tours and enter to win the current giveaway.

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