French entrepreneurs open all-macarons bakery in Victoria

A pair of transplanted French nationals think they may have come up with the next big thing in baked confections — the macaron: two meringue discs with a rainbow of fillings between them.

Yes, the meringue-based treat has been available in Victoria in places like Murchie’s and the Fairmont Empress over the years, but until now it’s never been the star of the show as it is at Bon Macaron Patisserie at 1012 Broad Street.

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The small patisserie — it would be a stretch to call it a bakery in the North American sense of the word — features one thing and one thing only: macarons, and lots of them.

But co-owners David Boetti and Yann Fougere are adamant that’s all the variety any one would need within that one offering.

“We’ve always liked macarons. You can have a few and have totally different flavours, while at a bakery you may have one piece of cake and you get one taste,” said Fougere.

“We figured macarons are a way of doing something different.”

Fougere points out macaron shops are common in France and the confection enjoys a higher profile in regular bakeries. But he and his business partner believed the time was right for such a specialized store in Victoria.

“You’d be surprised at the response. Victoria is a city of art. Food is part of art and there are a lot of foodies in Victoria,” said Boetti, who said word spread quickly about their opening in the first week of December and they were inundated through the Christmas season. “Word spread so fast, we didn’t expect the response.”

Boetti said a macaron shop offers something for everyone.

“Yes this is a very particular store, but it can please so many people: those who want gluten-free, fruit lovers, chocolate lovers, coffee lovers, savoury lovers ... it can expand for so many,” he said.

That’s why the pair, who both came to Canada from France to finish their university degrees and then decided to stay in Victoria, opted to specialize in one product. “We wanted to do it right and the proper way,” said Boetti.

Both have been working in the food industry here for years. When they opened, the focus was on the more traditional sweet macarons with flavours like chocolate and cherry. But as they became more popular, the partners have started to experiment and explore more daring sweet combinations and a broad array of savoury options.

On the sweet side, there are offerings like white chocolate wasabi and tiramisu, while the savoury cabinet includes white truffle and sea salt, olive tapenade, bacon and cream cheese and curried mango chutney.

“Most people will go first to the sweet and are a bit hesitant to go for savoury, but we have been giving some out and making smaller ones and it’s been worth it — most who try savoury like it, but they don’t know what to expect,” said Fougere.

They make about 400 a day and were selling between 400 and 500 a day in December. The macarons cost $1.50 each.

The flavours will change with the seasons and where possible they intend to use local flavouring.

They are also working on lollipop and ice cream macarons for summer, a dairy-free option, as well as larger macaron cakes for special occasions and bite-sized ones for snacking.

“I think there are so many things you can do with the macaron,” said Fougere. “And you can have two or three without the guilt of having a big cake or without feeling too stuffed.”

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