By Catherine Dunwoody
Russian-born, Paris-trained pastry chef Elena Krasnova opened Mon Paris Pâtisserie in Burnaby in January 2017; creating classic French pastries, divine desserts and chocolates that are a work of art.
Where were you born?
Elena Krasnova: Volgograd, Russia
What was food like in your household, growing up?
EK: Traditional Russian. When I was little, during the Perestroika time, we purchased very limited quantities of what was available in the stores. We had a small summer cottage where we grew lots of fruits and vegetables that my parents harvested, pickled and preserved for the winter. We ate many dishes with potatoes and rice, and nothing too fancy in terms of sweets. We enjoyed a few traditional Russian cakes that my mother would make for holidays.
Did you cook at home during your childhood?
EK: My passion to cook comes from my dad. He is a very good cook and I spent lots of time watching him and trying to understand basic principals of cooking while I grew up.
Where did you study pastry making and when?
EK: I left Vancouver 5 years ago to go to Paris and study at one of the best culinary schools in France: Ferrandi Ecole de Gastronomie in Paris.
What was your most rewarding experience in your earlier days?
EK: The most rewarding experience I can recall was when the first recipe of mine was published. It was in Baking & Pastry North America about 4 years ago. It was very important to me to see my work acknowledged in print.
EK: My first teacher. A woman I became friends with after. I took my first cake decorating class with her 10 years ago and I fell in love with this profession after.
Are you involved with any new projects, collaborations, or classes?
EK: I collaborate very closely with Cacao Barry. Their constant support is important to me. We are discussing the possibility of organizing some events together very soon. I host pastry classes regularly at Mon Paris, our next class on November 17 will teach students how to work with mirror glaze and how to make basic chocolate decorations for a mousse cake, details can be found on my website.
What is your signature pastry?
EK: When customers ask me what is our best selling item – for two years straight, it has been our Opera cake. It is my take on the classical French Opera with the deep flavour of coffee and dark 65% chocolate mousse.
What style of cuisine do you serve?
EK: My concept is 100% French pastries and modern desserts. Maintaining high quality pastries, baking everything fresh, and introducing French Viennoiserie to our customers is my goal.
What is your biggest challenge as a chef and businesswoman?
EK: Finding quality personnel was one of the top challenges since we opened up.
Any advice for young people who aspire to be chefs or restaurateurs?
EK: Be persistent, try to learn as much as possible, experiment and be true to yourself.