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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Micropatisseries, the Recession, and You: This Week's Review

Posted By on Wed, Sep 29, 2010 at 1:20 PM

The mini pound cake from Pinkie's Bakery. - KIMBERLY SANDIE
  • Kimberly Sandie
  • The mini pound cake from Pinkie's Bakery.
Kimberly Sandie
The mini pound cake from Pinkie's Bakery.
A while back, I started noticing that each new pastry shop that opened in San Francisco ― and there have been a lot of them since January, when I arrived back in town ― was smaller than the last. And also, that despite their size, most of these shops were not the work of amateurs. I began wondering: Is the full-scale pastry shop a thing of the past? How could so many minuscule businesses make a go of it? I started tasting around, and then making phone calls; the result is this week's roundup/review.

What came out of all those interviews was a sense that the explosion of micro-patisseries is caused by the same factors

that have forced the blooming of S.F.'s street-food scene and quirky

pop-up restaurants. There's less demand for high-ticket pastries, fewer

bistros with high-profile pastry chefs, and less money to open elaborate

pastry shops. So a new crop of bakers are rediscovering what we all

knew as teenagers: When you don't have enough money to go anywhere or

buy anything, there's a world of creative things you can do.

Bakers have it easier than savory cooks ― they can sell their products

long after they're prepared, they don't have to go through an arduous

permitting process to open a retail shop, and wholesale and catering options

are plentiful. Over the course of the next few days, look for excerpts

from my interviews and a post on a great micropatisserie that for space

reasons didn't make it into the printed piece. After all, I have to

find some way to work off all the butter I inflicted on my gall bladder

this month.

Which brings me to a final, tangential note. There are two fringe benefits to showing up in the office

with sampler boxes from 8 to 10 pastry shops in the space of one week: a) Your coworkers finish off the scraps, which means pastries are not

sitting around your kitchen, taunting you to eat them before they go

stale; b) the moment you hear news reporters groan at the sight of a new

box, you know they've finally understood the dark side of being a food


Follow us on Twitter: @sfoodie. Follow me at @JonKauffman.

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Jonathan Kauffman


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