A Profile of Pastry Chefs: Isabelle Leroux and Fanny Thériault — presented by Cacao Barry
Isabelle Leroux and Fanny Thériault are the founders and chef-owners of the artisanal patisserie, Mlles Gâteaux. Here is a portrait of two inspiring and outspoken women pastry chefs who have created their own success.
Isabelle and Fanny met in 2008, when they were both studying at the ITHQ. Fanny specialized in pâtisserie for its creative aspect: “I used to work in catering, but there was something that attracted me more to pastry, something more precise and artistic. So I went and got a degree in pastry, because it really suited my personality! I then specialized in custom decoration, and I worked at Dolce Più pastry shop, where I learned a lot.” As for Isabelle, the pastry route was quite a career change: “I was stagnating in my political science studies and wasn’t sure what professional direction I wanted to take. I had always had a passion for baking and was already doing a lot of it. And when I enrolled at the ITHQ, it fit like a glove! It was really what I wanted to do; my passion became my profession,” confides Isabelle.
They had different paths, but their common passion for pastry and their precious friendship finally led them to open Mlles Gâteaux. “The opportunity was there, at the right time. Part of the old Baklava Villeray space was for rent, and we quickly signed the lease. We called ourselves Mlles Gâteaux, because we liked the comforting image of a mother and grandmother cake, but we weren’t old enough for that! So we decided on the term ‘mesdemoiselles’.
The owners started their project when they were in their twenties, with little experience but a lot of drive and passion. That’s what made them successful and what makes them so happy when they see where their business is today. Their team is very tightly knit and is an integral part of Mlles Gâteaux’ success. “Honestly, we are so happy with where we are! Thanks to our hard work, it has been working well for several years. Our project, which is still quite modest, has received such a positive response from the neighbourhood and our clientele! We are still touched by it.”
In addition to making delicious cakes, the two entrepreneurs are frank, honest, generous, and genuine! It’s no coincidence that people in the neighbourhood are so crazy about the place: “I think people see that we love what we do, that we put a lot of effort into it, and that we give it our all. Customer intimacy is also central here; it’s what sets us apart from all the commercial chains that aren’t popular in the neighbourhood. People are familiar with us, our products, and our employees,” explained Isabelle.
The culture of business growth that prevails in the entrepreneurial environment has been a challenge from the start for both owners. As women entrepreneurs, balancing work and family is a major issue that they faced from the start: “Being two young women entrepreneurs who work together is a challenge in and of itself. It was essential that our patisserie project be balanced with full maternity leave; we didn’t want to have the disadvantage of being women entrepreneurs. Faced with the prevailing culture of business growth, we established our priorities and placed our pieces in line with them; and we succeeded!”
The success of Mlles Gâteaux with clients in the neighbourhood is evidence of the excellent team that is Isabelle and Fanny. Their roles in the business are complementary; Isabelle is in charge of a little bit of everything, from managing the business to preparing the recipes, while Fanny is mainly in charge of the pastry. However, both share the same interests in their work: their daily routine is dynamic, creative, and the tasks are very concrete. “For us, baking is a lot of fun! It smells good, it tastes good; sweets are universal! It really leaves room for creation. The size of our business allows us enough freedom and flexibility to have fun.”
And you can feel it: you enter their space as though entering their home. You’re greeted with a smile and leave with sweet treats made with love.
And what do we wish Fanny and Isabelle for the future? “To keep our precious customers and our wonderful team spirit; our chemistry is the backbone of the company. We also wish to encourage female entrepreneurship! We are two women entrepreneurs and hope we can inspire others to start their own!”
Mlles Gâteaux is the definition of the success of two visionary women entrepreneurs who were able to invest themselves with passion in a project that was close to their hearts. Mlles Gâteaux is a reflection of the women who started it: unique and original. Two charming pastry chefs to discover!
*Cacao Barry, a high-end French company that offers some of the most delicate and refined chocolate in the world! Working with cocoa producers and chefs around the world, Cacao Barry offers a wide range of cocoa products, couverture chocolates, dried fruit products, chocolates from exclusive plantations, and succulent chocolate recipes.
Written by Élise Tastet