Photo by Ian McCausland
Sweet delicacies are having a moment in the sun, but for Nathalie Gautier and her husband Gilles, Instagram-worthy desserts are not a fleeting trend but a representation of years of hard work spent mastering time honoured techniques. At bustling Main Street bakery, A L’Epi de Ble, these French ex-pats bring a slice of Provence to the prairies. Loaves are made with the traditional process—no preservatives, dairy, or gelatin, and never shortening—and the pastry case holds treasures like colourful macarons and eclairs stuffed with rich pastry cream. With her broad smile and lilting French accent, Nathalie herself is part of this cozy nook’s charm. 1757 Main St, 204‑334‑2526
Photo by Ian McCausland.
It has been a long journey leading chef Cam Tran of Café Ce Soir to his petit Portage Avenue bistro. A child of Vietnamese immigrants, who escaped their country by boat, Tran began working in kitchens with his father as a teenager. A winding career path eventually led him to move to France to study as a pastry chef at the Michelin starred Gastronomicom near Montpellier. Today, in his welcoming 23-seat café, chef Cam whips up marvelous pastry creations, crème brûlées infused with flavour, and classic French cuisine. A member of the slow food movement, this passionate chef makes everything from scratch in the kitchen with local ingredients. 937 Portage Ave, 204‑414‑7647, cafecesoir.ca
The key ingredients to the extraordinary desserts at Chocolate Zen Bakery are owners Doug Krahn and Betty Lai’s longtime friendship and passion for pastry. The two pastry chefs worked side by side for 16 years before opening Chocolate Zen in 2007. The cozy 1000 sq. ft. South Osborne bakery has quickly established itself as a leader in the city through its show-stopping presentation married with incredible taste. More than 40 desserts beckon from the showcase, including fluffy coconut macaroons, decadent oreo truffles and signature slabs of chocolate cake that readily satisfy sweet cravings. 533 Osborne St, 287-2253.