Francois Payard’s Underdog Ingredient

Francois Payard is known for his chocolate confections, but this holiday season, the famed pastry chef hopes home cooks craft their desserts and savory dishes with something else.

“I wish that home cooks used more chestnuts,” he told “It is very European and Asian to use it but I don’t see too many chestnut desserts in America. Only a few chefs use chestnuts in the winter with dishes like venison. All over Japan and France everyone uses chestnuts. It is something so simple that I rarely see on menus or in cookbooks in America.”

How is he using them?

“This winter I am making a chestnut macaroon,” he said, “and a chestnut buche de Noel [a chestnut yule log] for the holidays.”

Payard opened up about his favorite underdog ingredient ahead of New York Taste, New York Magazine’s annual celebration of global cuisine happening in Manhattan on Nov. 7.  Tickets to try delicacies dreamed up by Payard and his pals are still available, and check back with later this week to find out the out-of-the-box ingredients other star chefs plan on using this season.

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