The Hugo & Victor Sweet Shop Brings Parisian Charm to South Beach
By Robin Jay
Like a gallery of fine art – or, in this case, gastronomie sucrée – the new French boulangerie Hugo & Victor woos South Beach patrons with a “cabinet of sweet curiosities.” A touch of luxury à la Française, the vibrant vertical showcases present a stunning display of highly refined artisanal desserts, pastries and chocolates – precious gems as exquisite to view as they are sweet to taste.
The Parisian Sweet Shop is the creation of three-star Michelin Master Patisserie Hugues Pouget. He named his shop Hugo & Victor in honor of the French literary great Victor Marie Hugo, who authored
Les Misérables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. In fact, Chef Hugues drew inspiration while sketching just outside Hugo’s home in Paris.
“Most of our late night brainstorming took place in a typical French bistro at Place des Vosges, a few meters away from Victor Hugo’s house! His name, his writings…such a French heritage can only be inspiring!” said Chef Hugues when he sat down with South Florida Opulence.
“The finest and freshest ingredients available and a little bit of creativity … the rest is a secret!” said Chef
Hugues with a wry smile.
Above all, the inspiration comes from the seasons and all they offer in fruit and fare. At Hugo & Victor, the year has five seasons, an additional season to stay closer to nature’s fruit cycles. Since he works only with seasonal fruits, minimal sugar is needed, seasonality is something Chef Hugues has valued since he was a boy in rural France.
“The South of France is known for its colours, scents and flavours, and this is exactly what I grew up with in Provence…fields of
lavender, tangled vineyards that spread under cloudless blue skies. Land of Van Gogh and Cézanne. Homecooked dishes prepared with only the freshest, in-season ingredients bought at the local farmer’s market…olives, herbs, lemons, tomatoes, melons…,”
Chef Hugues reminisced.
“I like the challenge of working with a produce that hasn’t necessarily been explored yet in pastry, or very little. One of my favourites is pink grapefruit. I imagined a slice of tart with a light grapefruit juice cream, topped with fresh pink grapefruit segments. Many customers were skeptical at first, but once they tried it, they were surprised and always came back for more. It is today one of
our best sellers!”
Realizing a Dream
From his childhood home in Provence, Hugues always dreamed big. Family albums show photos of Hugues in his mother’s kitchen preparing cakes and tarts at the tender age of 3. “I wanted to work in a palace,” Chef Hugues recalled. “I enjoyed imagining what such a place was like; the service, the glamour, the food.” And so what does his maman (mother) think of Chef Hugues’ cooking when he comes home to visit in Provence?
“Ah, my family! It is now impossible to do any cooking when I am down south visiting,” laughed Chef Hugues, who won the French Dessert Championship in 2003. “My parents have always cooked so extraordinarily well, that when we try and cook anything together, it is always about who has the best recipe and ‘why do you do it like that and not like this,’ so when I am there with them, I just sit back, relax and enjoy! I must admit, though, that I do use some of my mother’s recipes as inspiration!”
The young Parisian’s patisserie and café is located inside the luxurious fashion store of The Webster Miami. A fan from the start, Laure Hériard-Dubreuil (founder of The Webster) embraced Hugo & Victor’s unique concept. Despite the distance from Paris, Laure observed the patisserie from its opening, falling in love with the grapefruit tarts.
Laure and Hugues first met during Paris Fashion Week in March 2013. They immediately hit it off, and so they shared the idea to create a cafe together. Whether in fine food or in fashion, Hugo & Victor and The Webster Miami were both founded on the same principles of artistic creation and elegance; each share the same high levels of demand in terms of selection, quality and refinement.