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Michel-Jean Amiel: A love for oriental flavours

Text by Aurélie Francart, photos by Studio Godard

Our favourite artisans – pastry

Praised by their clients, we put them in the spotlight

At Michel-Jean Amiel, east meets west in perfect harmony. And this in both the literal and figurative sense: the wife of the craftsman is indeed Franco- Lebanese and the space of the Amande et Cannelle shop is divided between French, Lebanese and Eastern pastries.

Pastry chef, chocolatier, confectioner and caterer, Michel-Jean Amiel has covered a lot of ground during his career. Originally from Colmar, he travelled around France during his training with the Compagnons before earning his stripes internationally. After spending time in Mexico, where he worked for a hotel chain making restaurant pastries, he returned to France for a technical sales position in the food industry before returning to his first love. His time in Lebanon and other Arab countries was a deciding factor in the direction his career would take.

Fresh from his journey, he was inspired by discussions he’d had with artisans along the way. Surprised by such technical skill without weighing and precise grammage, he kept execution techniques while adapting his recipes to suit his somewhat French need to base everything on weight. Michel-Jean Amiel drew inspiration from the products and techniques he discovered in these countries to shape his culinary identity.


Based in Strasbourg since 2003, he has been able to grow his business by playing on a mixture of genres. “In Alsace, we use a lot of spices like cinnamon or anise and waters such as orange blossom.” Upon opening, the artisan mainly offered oriental pastries. “We then developed the chocolate followed by the western influence.” From two – Amiel and his wife – they have grown to twelve employees in twenty years. Where oriental desserts may seem rich and heavy, Michel-Jean Amiel offers lighter pastries because they are fully baked. “We work on the flavours with different dried nuts such as almonds from Spain and hazelnuts or even pistachios from Iran. This is paired with cardamom, cinnamon and aromas such as rose or orange blossom or flower water (a blend of the two), widely used in Lebanese cuisine.”

We work on the flavours using different dried fruits

Beyond the classics makrout with dates, gazelle horns and other baklavas on the oriental side, lemon tarts or Paris-Brest on the French side or even the Lebanese Mouhalabieh, the pastry chef offers his original creations all year round, such as the Hoggar. This almond and orange dessert also includes a nut and coffee dome. Other pastries balance both Eastern and Western flavours: pistachio and dried apricot are mixed with lavender. This menu is complemented by a seasonal range in which we find a pomegranate finger (pistachio dacquoise biscuit, pomegranate compote, lime cream cheese and pistachio crémeux) or even the Choc’charlotte (crisp almond, walnut, hazelnut, chocolate madeleine, vanilla Bavarian cream, Brazilian chocolate mousse and whipped milk-based ganache).


Other pastries balance Eastern and Western flavours

As for chocolate, Michel-Jean Amiel also adds his Lebanese touch by infusing his ganache with rose petals or fresh mint. Driven by his passion for Lebanon, Michel- Jean Amiel is also driven by his place of work but above all by his desire to please, both in store and on other networks. This is the direction that the company is evolving in, since Amande et Cannelle now offer a Click & Collect service complete with visuals each more appetizing than the next.


The key to success:
“You have to be passionate about what you do and creative. You have to like working with your hands to take a simple product and transform it. Manufacturing everything “in-house” is a personal achievement that allows us to be independent.”

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