François Payard: A third generation award-winning French pastry chef and owner of the Payard bakery on Houston Street in New York City.

His chocolates and pastries are true works of art, decorated with the utmost precision and care from golden traces to black and white swirls. But his most well-known products, especially around the holiday season, are his Bûche de Noël cakes, each more scrumptious than the next.

His pastries and chocolates can also be found in areas around the world including Japan and Korea as part of his enterprise. Taking his dream a step further, he has also published an array of cookbooks, whose covers will leave one’s mouth watering at the mere sight of them.

While busy making these decadent treats for the holidays as well as developing a new look for his website with his design team, Payard took a break from the kitchen to share his story with GALO’s readers.

“I am a third generation French pastry chef and I love to create beautiful pastries, tarts, chocolates, and sweets. I cultivated my passion for the art of pastry as a child in my grandfather’s acclaimed shop, Au Nid des Friandises on the Riviera.

When I was younger my parents would do the same thing that I do now. They owned a pastry shop and it was very busy during the holidays. They would work long hours leading up to the holiday and on Christmas Eve. I do the same thing now, getting the bakery ready for the holiday. We would celebrate the holiday a day later, since they were always very busy with the pastry shop, like I am. Christmas was always great though. We would have turkey, chestnuts, a yule log, and champagne. My dad always made a big feast and there was so much food. I would receive presents from my grandparents, aunts and uncles, and parents.”

Maciej Hoffman: A Polish painter who focuses on painting the myriad of social happenings around him — with strong specificity on the commercialistic world. Though he has always been immersed in the world of art, such as his advertising stints when he first began, Hoffman only recently (in 2010) went back to exhibiting his artworks.

Before vanishing from the sight of others to celebrate in the festivities of the holidays, he quickly shared how he and his family spend their time during this season.

“The holidays in December are for me a time that is devoted exclusively to my family. It is a moment that we all wait for because for those couple of days, no one should disturb our tight circle. It is during this time that we talk and play together, and sometimes, we spend the holidays away from our home and we throw ourselves into the joy of winter sports.

We are not religious, but we like and respect our traditions. Which is why, in our home, there is a bit of Chanukah (from the right of our origin) and a bit of Christmas (from the right of the place we grew up in). It might even look a little bit comical when my children play with their dreidel for candies hung on our Christmas tree. But we don’t try to pretend to be anything; we don’t care for perfection or correctness, we decided to create our own version of the holidays, and it is these holidays that bring joy to us. And on top of all that, old legends and traditions pile up, which cause us to wait at midnight on Christmas Eve for our dog to possibly speak to us in a human voice. Therefore, our holidays are a bit unconventional, colorful, and very carefree.”

Eva Kisevalter: American fashion designer Eva Kisevalter is best known for her line Stella Neptune with its cashmere patches, colorful graphic shirts, and equally brightly colored scarves. Before her obsession with cashmere, Kisevalter was a DJ who went by the name of Stella Neptune. While her DJ days are over, the name still remains, echoing throughout the halls of dance clubs on the backs of individuals.

Kisevalter shared with GALO her comical Christmas story followed by an equally comical request of our readers.

“I grew up as a 60s child in the suburbs of Washington DC. The government and military families that I grew up with weren’t flashy and this, of course, reflected the gifts that kids received for Christmas. I don’t remember us getting anything near what children receive today, so we didn’t expect it, but what I expected from the age of eight to ten was quite unique.

Now, my father was a very interesting man. I never thought of him as funny or inventive when I was growing up, but he was actually both. He had no patience for children’s demands which didn’t change up much in the Christmas season. When I put in my order as to what I would like to find under the tree, he took a very long look at me, completely ignored what I had just asked for and told me that I was getting a Spanking Machine™ for Christmas. He explained, “The Spanking Machine™ was from Sears and it had three speeds that were color coded as to what color your ass would turn after it spanked you. The colors range from pink to cherry red.”  [Those were his] exact words.

Each of those three years at Christmas, when I opened up my presents and got nothing of the sort, my father said, “Well, unfortunately, Sears has sold out of the Spanking Machine™ this year, but I’ll make sure to get a head start on it for next year.” I was never even hand spanked as a child, so I never really believed him — but that didn’t stop me from craning my neck to look down every aisle for that Spanking Machine™ every time my parents dragged me to Sears.

Every so often I look on Ebay to see if there is an actual Spanking Machine™ in existence. Let me know if you find one. I’m thinking to buy one for my godchildren.”

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