Haute cuisine and haute horlogerie may not seem like the most obvious companions, but to Nina Métayer, they are meant for one another.
The Paris-based pastry chef has created four desserts for the Swiss watchmaker Jaeger-LeCoultre’s 1931 Café, an attraction that accompanies an exhibition celebrating the 90th anniversary of its Reverso model.
The 8,600-square-foot display, “Reverso: Timeless Stories Since 1931,” opened this summer at K11, an arts center in Shanghai, and is scheduled to move to 15 Rue Faubourg-St. Honoré in Paris in October.
Ms. Métayer, 33, said craftsmanship, small details, precision — even sensuality — are aspects of watchmaking and pastry. (“You listen to the noise your watch makes, and like dessert, you need all your senses.”) And of course, time. (“Dessert is not necessary to eat, so take the time to enjoy it.”)
In addition to their Art Deco look, to match the Reverso’s design and that of the cafe, the pastries also use ingredients from Jaeger-LeCoultre’s home in the Vallée de Joux, Switzerland.
For example, the Silence de Myrtille is Ms. Métayer’s homage to tarte aux myrtilles du Risoud, a traditional tart with blueberries from the region’s Risoud Forest. In her recipe, the blueberries are cooked with a bit of lemon zest and put on a crunchy shortbread base — “so it’s fresh, but with a lot of character,” Ms. Métayer said.
The Secret de Fruits Rouges, filled with poached raspberries and blueberries, was named for the hidden engineering that goes into watchmaking, Ms Métayer said. And, topped with a pile of whipped cream, the pastry resembles a Swiss mountain.
The Soupir Chocolat is a chocolate concoction infused with a gentian spirit from the region, and the vegan Bruit de Noisette is made of layers of chocolate shortbread, crunchy praline and hazelnut biscuit and mousse, decorated with three lines that echo the gadroons on a Reverso case. “I wanted to imagine the feel and curve of Art Deco and give that to my desserts,” she said.
In Shanghai, a pastry and coffee were 260 renminbi, or $40.25; the price in Paris has not been determined, the brand said.
She said she learned about watchmaking during the project, and professed a fondness for the Reverso because its case can be flipped — a feature first created to protect the watches of polo-playing British officers in India.
“When I make my dessert, I need the time. But when I eat, I don’t need the time anymore,” she said. “There’s something very philosophical about that.”