The French Pastry You Can't Really Find In The US, According To Jacques Torres - Exclusive

These days, you don't necessarily have to travel around the world to taste different cultural cuisines. Many cities in America have a lot of different offerings available when it comes to dining, but the question remains: Is the food authentic? According to world-renowned pastry chef Jacques Torres, there may be plenty of authentic foods available outside their home regions, but you can't always find classically made French pastries in the United States. In his exclusive interview with Tasting Table, Torres shared his thoughts on the art of authentic pastry and his best-kept chocolate secrets as we head into the holiday season.

Torres himself — aka Mr. Chocolate — offers giant chocolate Santas and classic chocolate bon-bons, and he has even launched his own hot chocolate bombs online. But he told us that if you're looking for the holiday staples of cookies and pastries, America is missing out on some of his favorites. The "Nailed It!" host explained that when he came to the United States 35 years ago, many kinds of French pastries weren't available. Now, plenty of those pastries have made their way to the country as the culinary world continues to evolve, but there are still some that are difficult to find on U.S. soil.

The US needs authentic Napoleons

Jacques Torres claims that when he first arrived, America was "behind" in terms of offering cuisine from other places and has since grown greatly — but some pastries are still a rare find. "Now, can you find a very good Napoleon — or what we call a Mille-Feuille, which is the Napoleon? Most of the time, no," the television personality said. A Napoleon is a layered puff pastry with cream in between the buttery and flaky layers, topped with powdered sugar or fondant icing.

But Torres also explained that a classic Napoleon is getting harder to find in its home country's bakeries, too. "Even in France, most of the time, it's not made the classical way, the good way," he said. "To me, it's not a question of, 'Am I going to find a Napoleon in a bakery?' It's, 'Am I going to find a good Napoleon in a bakery?'"

Torres enjoys classic pastries that are given the proper time and attention, which it seems fewer bakeries are willing to account for in the pressure and pace of modern-day business. "It's an art that we are losing ... I don't like those shortcuts — you see a lot of the shortcuts on TikTok and all those social media," he said, noting that Napoleons aren't the only pastries affected by this issue. "We can say the same thing for the éclair. We can say the same thing for a tart or pie ... I read lately that around 80% of the bakeries in France buy their croissants frozen from the factory."

While Americans may not be able to find a good Mille-Feuille at home, it sounds like finding well-made pastries takes more than just a trip overseas. "The caramelization of the dough in the oven, the finishing, the glaze, the beautiful foods — there are no tricks to make it go in two minutes," Torres said of the process.

Head to Jacques Torres' chocolate website to check out his latest offerings.