Thursday, December 24, 1998
Even though they are young in years, husband and wife Yann Lusseau and Anne Parker are long in the experience they bring to creating fine, contemporary French pastries. Not unlike the measured processes that transform raw ingredients into one of their edible works of art, opening their own business almost two years ago is a success story carefully brought to fruition over a lengthy course of work and study.
In 1989, having just led the U.S. team to a fourth-place award in the first World Cup pastry competition, Parker met Lusseau in Brussels, where they both worked in a huge shop as part of a crew of 30 pastry cooks. Yann had by that time completed an apprenticeship, and was embarked on a two-year commitment as part of a pastry fellowship. Discovering more than just a shared affinity for pastry, the pair next headed off to the Big Apple, where they were wed.
After continuing to work together at New York''s celebrated Gotham Bar and Grill, the decision was made to return to Paris. "We thought that we needed to learn a little more there," Yann recounts, "to get more exposure and better experience. But once we went back, we realized that we couldn''t really re-adapt." A job offer for Parker, as pastry chef at the Highlands Inn, cinched the couple''s plan to return to the States.
Yann easily found work, first at Casanova in Carmel and later moonlighting at Paradiso, a unique situation that allowed him the facility to begin tapping into the wholesale market in exchange for supplying in-house desserts. "The timing was good," Yann reflects. "After two years, when Paradiso needed the space, I needed to expand." The search was on for the right spot, ultimately culminating at the Cypress Plaza, where Parker and Lusseau may again be found, working side by side.
As they had hoped, demand for their upscale, contemporary line of high quality, custom pastries has followed. "We are very particular about all the ingredients we use," Yann asserts. "We make all of our own fruit fillings, using the best that is available. It''s great having the farmers market so close by; we''re able utilize the freshest and best seasonal fruits."
Some of their early-rising customers have been known to show up at 5am, sniffing the warm croissants and Danishes as they come out of the oven. Cakes, however, are produced by special order. Parker-Lusseau''s reputation for artfully elegant wedding cakes had been quickly established with flavors like strawberry vanilla, lemon raspberry, and tiramisu that might be enrobed in ivory marzipan and studded with crystallized fruit, or with the layers encircled with ladyfingers, tied with ribbon and festooned with fresh flowers.
For other occasions, there is ginger-spice cake filled with caramel mousse and poached pears, apple cake with pumpkin crme brulee and cinnamon mousse, or the unique chocolate and blackberry tea crme brulee with blackberry jelly and chocolate mousse. An extensive list of tarts includes a double-whammy lemon custard, topped with lemon curd, the apple-almond, topped with almond brittle, chocolate pear with almond-caramel, baked almond cream with rum raisins and pinenuts, and apricot almond cream tart.
Being a French bakery, of course there are petit fours, done in a similar full range of flavors. And being the holiday season, this time of year easily finds this team burning the midnight oil, turning out Christmas specialties like blackberry tea truffles, chocolate hazelnut tuiles and three renditions of buche de Noel (chocolate-espresso, caramel-pear and spice, and lemon-raspberry).
It''s a repertoire that continues to flourish, under the shingle that shares the couple''s names. cw
731 Munras Ave., Suite C, Monterey, 643-0300
Hours: 7am-5pm, Tuesday-Saturday, closed Sunday and Monday