E. Dehillerin* is a renowned cooking utensils outlet located in the 1st arrondissement of Paris. It’s a totally no-frills store that has stayed pretty much the same since it was first opened in 1820, though I imagine they didn’t sell silicone baking mats then.
It’s open to individuals, but is mainly targeted at professionals. As a consequence, all prices are listed before tax (H.T., meaning “Hors taxes”), contrary to what is customary in regular French stores.
The sales people are helpful and knowledgeable, but they are definitely not the patient, shoulder-rubbing type.
When you step inside the store, the first thing that may strike you is how narrow the aisles are lined floor to ceiling with metal containers and coarse wooden shelves, the products stacked with no particular merchandizing effort. There is very little space to move around, and you keep having to make way for bustling sales reps checking the reference for sharpening stones, and for customers who are trying to get a closer look at the giant soup ladles right next to the stainless steel mandoline slicers you yourself are inspecting.
The sales people are helpful and knowledgeable, but they are definitely not the patient, shoulder-rubbing type. They’ll tell you which type of bakeware is the sturdiest, but they won’t hold your hand and nod along while you debate which size gratin dish you really need — if you’re looking for the French Williams-Sonoma, this is not it.
Beyond the sheer fun of trying to hold your ground in this beehive, wearing your freshest and most charming smile, the reward is this : top-quality, professional-grade gear at affordable prices, and good, no-nonsense advice. I love this store.
On my recent visits, here’s what I got :
– A 20 cm chef knife, a 9 cm paring knife and a bread knife. Various brands (at varying prices) were available, and I liked that the ones the sales guy recommended were not the priciest, so I went for these. I had read that using good knives changed your cooking life, but only now do I realize that that meant.
– A mezza-luna (chopping tool with two handles and two half-moon blades). In French, it’s called a berceuse because of the rocking movement you make while using it. I had seen Nigella Lawson praise hers, and thought it looked neat. Turns out it chops fresh herbs like a breeze, and is a lot of fun to use.
– A sharpening stone. Same as with the knives, the sales rep pointed me to this 4.47€ diamond shaped stone, away from the fancier ones with a handle.
– A sheet of this special plastic which makes it easy to work with melted chocolate. In French, it is called a feuille guitare.
– A silicon baking mat
– A pastry brush
– A set of six non-stick fluted-edged tartlet molds with removable bottoms
– A set of six shaping rings. These can be used to hold together layered appetizers or desserts while you make them, to cook crumpets or individual mousses, to shape rice/couscous/whatever for serving, as cookie cutters… See? And all this time you hadn’t even realized you needed them so bad!
– A set of locking tongs
– Ceramic baking beans
– An oven thermometer, which led me to realize that unfortunately our oven is, as supected, not as warm as it claims.
I also wanted to get copper canelé molds, because Maxence likes canelés so much and the ones we’ve made using our silicon mold are not as caramelized as the ones you buy in bakeries. But when I asked about them, the sales guy told me they were 8€ each and shared the secret to baking great canelés using a silicon mold: spray each canelé nest with baking spray, and sprinkle confectioner’s sugar inside like you would flour a cake pan. I have yet to try this tip, but will report back.
* E. Dehillerin is at 18 rue Coquillère, 75001 Paris. The name is pronounced roughly Uh-duh-il’-rin, that last syllable being the French nasal “in” sound, with a mute “n”.
If you get a chance to be in that area of Paris, there are several similar stores worth checking out in the neighborhood :
A. Simon (48 rue Montmartre, 75002 Paris – website)
La Bovida (36 rue Montmartre, 75001 Paris)
Mora (13 rue Montmartre, 75001 Paris – website)