Good Sunday to everyone!
Some time ago, I had the chance to meet Lauren K, the founder of the Popelini patisserie. If you did not spend your past three years lost in Mongolia, you obviously have heard about Popelini! Yes… you are almost there… it is this crazy sweet shop that only offers cream puffs. To have an immediate pleasure in one mouthful with the cream puff of the day, to ask forgiveness with the box of 6, or to share with the entire open space with the selection of 12 cream puffs. I have followed the success of this patisserie but I have never dared enter this shop, because for me, in this kind of place you can easily lost yourself in a glycemic overconsumption. I just cannot eat only one cream puff, just to taste it. I would like to resist the temptation of tasting them all but I am weak in front of a cute colorful cream puff. How to resist after all?
When I took these pictures, I spent a little time at their boutique in the Debelleyme Street, and I was surprised to see the different types of customers that entered this nice place: a lot of men, mothers, lovers, grandparents, as if the cream puff became a kind of sugar federator.
Anyway, just to tell you that few weeks ago I met Lauren, for many reasons and also because she is going to make my wedding cake. During this conversation, I wanted to ask her some questions because her career is inspiring. Lauren is a nice passionate and fascinating person, a real entrepreneur who knows all the right people!
About curiosity: I guess that we asked you this question a hundred times but tell me, why “Popelini”?
I decided to call our patisserie Popelini as a tribute to the Italian pastrycook who invented, in 1540, in the court of Catherine de Medici, the choux pastry (pâte à chou) from a cooked mixture that we called hot paste (pâte à chaud). This name has been transformed over time to become choux pastry.
About legacy: Your father is a famous pastrycook overseas, with his Parisian macaroons brand. Is pastry a family story?
It became one! We have always been a greedy family but we did not predict to be in this sector. It is only when my father went to the US and started to cook macaroons, that takes the cake! And I immediately followed him to build up my knowledge by his side and it has been love at first sight with this job! It is a real pleasure to create delicious treats everyday and make our clients happy!
About career: What is your professional background? Was it obvious for you to work in the pastry world or it took some time?
As I said before, it took some time. I did a lot of things before finding the right way. After a business school, acting classes, a waitress job and a short exile in the US, I came back to France because I wanted to create an entire concept based on cream puffs, this round and creamy little cake, a classic of the French pastry that has been forgotten for a long time. It had to be highlighted again.
About admiration: I read that the chef Michalak helped you writing some cream puffs recipes and that he advised you during the creation of your concept. Can you tell us how did you both meet?
We met ten years ago in the US because he contributed to the patisserie launch that my father dedicated to macaroons. It directly matched between us; he is a fantastic pastrycook, a passionate and very generous person! When I got this idea, he immediately encouraged me and helped me elaborating recipes.
About details: When I entered your stores, I was immediately impressed because nothing was left to chance. From the Popelini embroidery on the heart of your employees to the beautiful packaging, is the customer experience as important as your cream puffs recipes?
Of course! The client also eats with the eyes. The taste of the products has to be extraordinary but what is inside is as important as what is outside. Each detail matters, from the welcoming of the clients in the shop to the cream puffs and of course the packaging, I do care about everything.
About anecdote: What is the sweetest customer return that you ever had?
We had a lot that made me happy, when a client came back to tell us that he cannot live without our cream puffs, it is a huge satisfaction for us. However, the most memorable customer return was about a loyal customer that wrote a petition because he wanted the strawberry mascarpone cream puff back. That was so funny and it worked because it is back in stores now.
About Vivaldi: There are changes in the menu regarding the season, it is about the quality of the products or do you imagine this menu like a ready-to-wear colorful collection?
A little bit both, we have three collections and 5 flavors for each of them. We are taking into account the season fruits and the period of time. This summer, we decided to choose some fruits, with different flavors, such as nectarine verbena, red fruits, apricot rosemary and obviously the famous one: strawberry mascarpone.
About memories: What is your first culinary pleasure?
My first culinary pleasure was the “religieuses au chocolat” that I ate secretly with my grandmother every Wednesday afternoon! When I tell you that greedy is a family story…
About nostalgia: What did you want to do, as a job, when you were little?
I wanted to be a lawyer, I loved defending my little brother when he got into trouble and I was pleading for a long time… Nowadays, he does not need my help anymore; he joined me in this wonderful adventure and knows how to defend himself by his own.
About sugar: Is it definitely cream puff or a bit macaroon too?
A bit both, even if my heart will always be in the cream puffs direction, I do not forget about my first love.
About news: If it is not a secret, on which projects are you working right now?
We are currently looking for a bigger manufacturing workshop because ours is far too small… and about the rest, it is confidential!
About tips: Do you have a favorite address to go diner with your lover?
I love Ferdi, a nice small restaurant with few tables only, their cheeseburger is a must and the passion fruit cocktails (guarapita) are delicious, but reservations are required.
Lauren gave me her cream puffs recipes book published by Marabout, and tomorrow I will share with you the sparkling lemon cream puff recipe… You can find her book in every bookstore, but also in her shops:
Popelini: 29 Debelleyme Street, 75003 Paris or 44 Martyrs Street, 75009 Paris.
Translated by Coralie Clair
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