Thursday, April 1, 1999
In the 15 years since Paris Bakery first opened their doors, the front counter of display cases have stretched formidably. Row upon row of fruit tarts, croissants, cakes and pastries appear in a kaleidoscopic pattern, creating a magnet-like lure for innocent passers-by.
If the steadily increasing array of sweet temptations is any indication of high-idling creative momentum, the Jegat family is a case in point. "We have a hard time saying no, when someone comes to us with something special they'd like for us to make," admits Sonja. A baker in her own right, she's more often found running the bustling front of the shop, while husband, Jackie, oversees the back.
Call it sweet destiny, when daybreak in the mid-'80s found Jackie delivering his artisan quality breads to the door of Sonja's Belgian bakery. The two bakers found they had a lot in common; Jackie began his apprenticeship at age 14, at the original Paris bakery in his native France. As Sonja Dekens, her apprenticeship came at the side of grandmother, Maria, producing pastries first at the original La Boheme restaurant. Partnered by Sonja's mother Denise, and uncles Walter and Gaston Georis, it was the forerunner of what became the landmark Casanova restaurant in Carmel.
As it might be imagined, many pre-dawn cappuccinos by Sonja and Jackie coalesced into full-scale partnership, one that still bears fruit. Along with raising a family, together they've taken on a second shop in Seaside, where they've moved the wholesale production that keeps a plethora of restaurants and hotels supplied with breads and pastries. In a continuum of history repeating itself, daughter Vivian manages the new site, along with her uncle, Eric Jegat.
It becomes easy to see how a long list of "begats" creates a clan of indigenous food people that then translates into the cuisine of a community. Now with a small retail space fronting the new wholesale site, Seaside is offered a sampling of the same breads, sandwiches, pastries and coffee drinks that keeps the door swinging open in Monterey.
Expansion has meant that more products are finding a place on the bakery's long list of inventory. Along with a dozen or so breads like traditional baguettes, sandwich breads, brioche and focaccia, the bakery is branching out into unleavened, yeast-free and organic breads. There are hot breakfast items like spinach-and-scrambled-egg croissants and quiche, as well as a large selection of sandwiches to pair with deli salads like pasta and potato, or classic Caesar. Pizza comes whole or by the slice, along with calzones and soup, three kinds, fresh daily.
The list of cakes--from American-style carrot cake and cheesecake, to Italian tiramisu, on to classic French desserts like baba au rhum, Napoleons, diplomats, and a variety of mousse-filled genoise layer cakes--is rivaled by the selection of pte choux creations (Saint Honore, croquembouche) and 10 or more tarts (almond pear, apple custard, linzer, lemon).
All of this, as well as hors d'oeuvres, are available by custom-ordered baskets or platters. Then there are the special holiday items, this time of year being noted by specially decorated Easter cookies and Easter basket cakes.
It takes around-the-clock attention to detail to achieve the magnitude of this array, and many pairs of hands. And it will be interesting to see what new heights are reached as this family of food lovers continues to expand.
271 Bonifacio St., Monterey, 646-1620
1232 Broadway Ave., Seaside, 394-7798
Hours: 6:30am-6:30pm, 7 days, Monterey
7am-5pm, 7 days, Seaside