Top French Chefs Make Incredible Family History Discoveries

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Food provides an important link to our heritage. On an individual level, we grow up eating cultural food and for many of us, it becomes an integral part of who we are. On a societal level, traditional cuisine is passed down from one generation to the next, making it an integral part of the culture.

We recently invited 6 of the top pastry and chocolate artisans in France to explore how their roots have influenced their culinary creations. Angelo Musa (Plaza Athénée, Paris), Nicolas Bacheyre (Un Dimanche à Paris), Patrick Roger, Carl Marletti, Nicolas Cloiseau (La Maison du Chocolat), and Laurent Duchêne embarked on an exciting journey with MyHeritage to discover their origins. They were accompanied by food journalist Vincent Ferniot and blogger Sharon Heinrich of Paris Chez Sharon.

These chefs are at the top of their respective fields, creating dishes that awe and inspire. But where does their creativity stem from? It is possible some of the creative inspiration for their masterpieces comes from their roots? That’s what we set out to discover. Through MyHeritage DNA, the chefs learned fascinating new information about their origins as well as their unique ethnic mixes.

Learn more about the chefs and their incredible family history discoveries on the special Gourmet Origins site and this video.

Read on to learn more about the chefs, their ethnic breakdowns, and their family history discoveries.

Angelo Musa

Voted the 2003 World Pastry Champion and the 2007 Meilleur Ouvrier de France (Best Craftsman of France), Angelo Musa has served as the Executive Pastry Chef at the famous Hôtel Plaza Athénée in Paris since 2016.

His ethnic origins are concentrated mainly in Europe: Southern Europe (39.7% Italian and 21.6% Greek), Northern and Western Europe (12.6% English and 9.2% Scandinavian), Eastern Europe (8.7%), and the Middle East (8.2%).

Angelo is Italian on his father’s side and French on his mother’s side, originating in the Lorraine region in northeast France. His paternal ancestors come from a small village in eastern Italy called Locorotondo. Angelo discovered that his ancestors were paretari, and built the dry stone walls that created boundaries for agricultural land. Knowing how to lay dry stones properly was an art, which has recently been added to the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

A document which pledges the marriage between Angelo’s great-great-grandfather Giuseppe Petrelli, qualified as a paretaro, and the daughter of Ignazio Rosé, paretaro, in 1863.

These walls were so important to local citizens that the paretaro were not only well paid, but were often offered gifts of wine, fresh bread, and cheese.

On his mother’s side, Angelo learned of an ancestor in Nancy who was a milkman and on one who was a coquetier. A coquetier was a traveling merchant who collected fresh produce (including eggs) from farms to resell them in the market. His ancestors worked with the essential ingredients for pastry making!

Nicolas Bacheyre

Voted “Most Promising Pastry Chef” in 2016, Toulouse native Nicolas Bacheyre is a pastry chef at Un Dimanche à Paris, a restaurant, tea room, and boutique located in Saint-Germain-des-Prés.

Nicolas learned that his ethnic origins are exclusively European: Southern Europe (72.2% Iberian), Northern and Western Europe (19.6%), and Eastern Europe (8.2%).

Nicolas had many questions surrounding his last name. After some research, he discovered that the name Bacheyre is remarkably rare. Only 3 people since the year 1950 have been born with the name, and they are all his family — his father, his sister, and himself! Nicolas suspected that the uniqueness of the name may have been due to foreign origins.

Our Research team searched back 5 generations to find a direct ancestor, Joseph Vaissière, a native of Haute-Garonne, a farmer who settled in Ariège in southwestern France. His son, Jean, was the first male in the family to be born with the name Bacheyre. The strong accent of the Ariège region may be the reason for the shift from the last name Vaissière to Bacheyre.

The house where Nicolas’ great-great-grandfather Jean Bacheyre was born in 1855 in Daumazan, Ariège. His parents were farmers who lived in a house in the village.

Patrick Roger

The sculptor and chocolatier Patrick Roger is a baker’s son who made his first chocolates on his parents’ kitchen table. Since then, his brilliant creations have earned him the title of Meilleur Ouvrier de France (Best Craftsman of France) in 2000 and Chevalier (Knight) of the Legion of Honor in 2018.

Patrick Roger discovers his family history with Vincent Ferniot.

Patrick’s ethnic origins are European: Northern and Western Europe (44.3% West and North European, 8.2% Irish, Scottish, and Welsh), Southern Europe (26.6% Iberian and 4.8% Greek), and Eastern Europe (16.1% Balkan).

We were curious to know more about Patrick’s ancestors and the traditions that defined their lives. Our research revealed a family history that included several farmers, laborers, and agricultural workers.

There is one prominent trait that stands out among his ancestors: several of them, in different branches of his family, serviced their communities. A great example of this is Patrick’s direct ancestor (6 generations) Jean-François Trécul, was the mayor of Choue in the Loir-and-Cher in 1843.

The discovery of ancestors who worked as millers immediately drew Patrick’s attention, such as his direct ancestor (5 generations), François Jacques Boulay (born in 1841 in Droué in the Loir-et-Cher), who was a qualified miller according to his son’s birth record:

Carl Marletti

Carl Marletti, the former pastry chef of the Grand Hotel Intercontinental, ventured out on his own by opening a shop in the 5th arrondissement in 2007. While he says he enjoys the luxury of traveling and meeting people to get ideas for new creations, we could see that his family is equally as important to him. His family history is very robust and diverse.

Carl’s ethnic origins are very varied: Southern Europe (28.4% Greek, 12.5% ​​Italian, 4.9% Iberian), Northern Europe and West (27% English and 17.6% Irish, Scottish, and Welsh), 3.8% Ashkenazi Jewish, and 5.8% West Asian.

Carl knew that his maternal grandfather was a pastry baker, but he was surprised to discover that there was another baker among his ancestors. His Italian great-grandfather, Alfonso Carletti, was also a baker in La Spezia in the 1900s.

Alfonso Marletti described as fornaio on his son Loris’ birth certificate in 1905.

Alfonso and his family left Italy for France at the end of the 1920s. He became a house painter to support his family and integrate into his new country.

Nicolas Cloiseau

Nicolas Cloiseau is the chef at the famous La Maison du Chocolat. As a renowned chocolatier, he was voted Best Craftsman of France in 2007. He excels at fusing traditional desserts and modern innovation.

Nicolas has primarily European origins: Northern and Western Europe (43.4% Irish, Scottish, and Welsh, 15.7% West and North European, and 14.8% English), from Southern Europe (18.1% Iberian and 6.5% Italian), and 1.5% Ashkenazi Jewish.

Nicolas is well-known for combining traditional French chocolate making while introducing new innovations. We discovered that many of Nicolas’ ancestors (from Burgundy and Brittany) also worked in traditional trades, some of which no longer exist. His ancestor Pierre Cloisel (born in Arthel in the Nièvre region in 1799) was a bassecourier, and raised small animals. Another ancestor, Marie Hyacinthe Le Masson (born in 1825 in Côtes-d’Armor), was a spinstress and her father was a saddler.

Marriage certificate from 1852 of Marie Hyacinthe Le Masson, a spinstress, whose father, François Le Masson, was a saddler.

Laurent Duchêne

Laurent Duchêne’s craftsmanship has won him many esteemed prizes, including the Meilleur Ouvrier de France (Best Craftsman of France) in 1993. He opened his first boutique in the 13th arrondissement in Paris in 2001.

In addition to his European origins, North and West Europe (32.5% West and North European and 24.4% English) and Southern Europe (34.6% Iberian and 2.6% Italian), he was surprised to discover that he is 2.5% Ashkenazi Jewish and 3.4% Middle Eastern.

He was surprised to learn that he had a great-grandmother whose surname was Laurent:

The birth certificate of his great-grandmother, Françoise Adèle Laurent, born June 23, 1835, in Sennely, Loiret.

Laurent recognized his tremendous entrepreneurial spirit in the story of his direct ancestor (5 generations), Théodore Foulon. At the time of his marriage, Théodore was 24 years old and was a weaver. At the birth of his daughter in 1824, he was a farmer. Upon the marriage of his daughter in 1843, he was declared an owner. His biography represents a successful social progression of perseverance and hard work.

Summary

We were delighted to have the opportunity to present each of these renowned chefs with their unique family history. It was incredible to watch their reactions as they heard family stories and saw their DNA results. If their family’s past hasn’t provided them inspiration up to this point, after learning more about their heritage, we hope that it will inspire them going forward as they continue to create their incredible (and tasty!) works of art.

To learn more about the family stories of these chefs, reveal their ethnic origins, and watch them react to the discoveries made, visit Gourmet Origins.

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