Kitchissippi residents have one more reason to indulge in the local scene. A bona fide patisserie francaise has opened in the heart of Wellington West.
Initially distributing pastries to the lucky residents of Lebreton Flats and Chinatown from his own home, Stephan Ethier, createur of the newly opened Macarons et Madeleines, took over the space formerly occupied by Harvest Loaf bakery in a move that was eagerly anticipated by fans of his pastry creations.
Born in what is now Iqaluit, Ethier has been all over Canada – from Montreal to London (Ontario) and back to Ottawa for training in both cuisine and pastry at Le Cordon Bleu before graduating in 2006. Ethier and his wife also spent a year working and eating their way though Paris.
As a vegetarian, Ethier was enticed by pastry more so than cuisine, although he achieved his Grand Diplôme, which certifies expertise in both areas.
Like anyone entering mid-life and beginning a completely new career, he was apprehensive at first, and surprised to quickly land a job at Le Cordon Bleu bistro Signatures, before moving on to Le Baccara at the Casino du Lac Leamy in Hull.
Many of the locales in the Kitchissippi area that focus on desserts are known for some sort of specialty, whether it be miniature cakes, cupcakes, doughnuts, or even vegan goods but, of course, the focus here is pastry.
The viennoiseries (French for baked goods made from a yeast-leavened dough) on offer, such as croissants, éclairs, Paris Brest (a French dessert, made of choux pastry and a praline flavoured cream) and namesake macarons and madeleines, are baked on a daily basis, and are available as of 8 a.m. while quantities last.
When asked what he would recommend to a newcomer, Ethier refuses to select just one menu item.
“The beauty of food is that it is so very personal, and therefore it’s impossible to make any sort of recommendation,” says Ethier. “You have to figure that out for yourself – try everything!”
Ethier admits that there is always room for improvement. Food is ever changing, and he is steadily working to make things better. He’s happy to provide a recipe if asked. There isn’t any classified information locked away in some vault. Rather, he enjoys sharing his knowledge, but insists that results come from skills that develop over time. Perhaps most importantly, like Julia Child claimed so long ago, you can never use too much butter. Or in the words of Stephane Ethier: “life is too short to eat bad food.”
Macarons et Madeleines, located at 1323 Wellington Street West, is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays. The website is still under construction at macaronsetmadeleines.com, but you can, of course, “like” them on Facebook.