Celebrating the arts in Brome-Missisquoi
From the shimmering gold swirls of salted peanut praliné chocolate bonbons to the impeccable glazes of maple sourdough donuts, the gourmet sweets of pastry chef and food photographer Audrey Laferrière are a feast for the eyes just as much as the stomach or palate.
A graduate of l’ITHQ’s culinary pastry school in Montreal, Laferrière creates extravagant and beautiful pastries, sweets, and breads from her home in Knowlton. Her camera captures their innate luxury, photographed in natural light in a way that evokes feelings of comfort and a sort of temporary beauty; a moment to be savoured before the creation is eaten.
“Dessert is for pure pleasure and I like that hedonistic quality about it,” she says. “We eat three times a day for sustenance, but nobody needs to eat dessert. It’s about the art de vivre for me; the pleasures of life, like enjoying a beautiful view, and dessert falls along those lines.”
Laferrière combines her love for desserts and photography on her blog Colibri Bec Sucré, meaning “sweet toothed hummingbird” in French. Living in the Eastern Townships where dairy co-ops and flour production are plentiful, she incorporates ingredients like ancestral flours and rich creams made by local farmers into her recipes, which range from candied fruit slices to beetroot red velvet cake. Many of her recipes are seasonal, drawing from fruits and vegetables found in her own garden and grown from seed to incorporate a deep relationship with the earth into her baking.
After graduating from pastry school, Laferrière embarked on a trip around the world as she completed three baking internships abroad in the United States, France, and New Zealand. She first settled into the pastry section of The Restaurant at Meadowood, a three Michelin-star restaurant in the heart of Napa Valley, California. It was there that she got a taste of how brutal the restaurant industry could be, working in a kitchen whose environment at times was verbally abusive. Despite this, Laferrière grew her knowledge of hospitality, pastry, and local ingredients. She found herself particularly impressed by the hand-crafted pottery that each dish was served upon; beautiful blue handmade creations whose unique textures and colours made each dish feel more lush.
“They were big on terroir, and [the pottery] was literally terroir, made from the earth by local artisans,” she explains. “When I landed in the Eastern Townships, I knew I definitely wanted to dabble in pottery.”
After returning to Canada and settling in Knowlton with her partner, Laferrière began taking pottery classes with local potters Robin Badger and Robert Chartier, where she discovered a beautiful space and community filled with artistic-minded people. She soon bought a wheel and kiln so she could produce pottery in her home, with the goal of creating her own line of handmade pastry dishes, including dessert plates, pie dishes, and cake stands.
Pastry and pottery are perhaps not so different from one another; each involves intricate handwork and a process whose final result can be unpredictable. Clay sculptures and desserts both go in their respective kilns and ovens, and their crafters can only hope that their creations will transform into their desired final result.
Laferrière takes the idea of being homemade one step farther beyond the actual dessert by crafting the plate it is served upon, constructed from her own pottery studio. While she doesn’t have a “signature” dessert persay, everything that comes out of her kitchen is always made “from scratch”. Her locally-sourced ingredients come from her own backyard garden or neighbouring farms when possible. Her personalized collection of potted goods is currently under construction, which will be launched soon on her website, where they will bring joy to your own dining room as you treat yourself to a sweet delicacy.
When not baking or behind the camera, Laferrière also enjoys making sourdough bread at home, something she took up while on maternity leave. In addition to working on her own creations, Laferrière also does food styling, photography, and social media for a number of brands and restaurants, and is looking to take on new clients.
To dive into Laferrière’s flavourful world of pastry and desserts, visit https://www.colibribecsucre.com, where you’ll find unique recipes for sweet intricacies like grapefruit curd and creamsicle clementine cake. She is also available for food styling and photography through the contact form on her website, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This project has been made possible by the Community Media Strategic Support Fund offered jointly by the Official Language Minority Community Media Consortium and the Government of Canada.