A Taste of Paris in New Jersey
By: Mussy Raitman, Lubicom Staff
If you’ve been to Paris, you probably know the feeling of wandering through small cobblestone streets with a fresh buttery croissant in one hand and the perfect cappuccino in the other – an experience that is a far cry from the American lox and bagel scene.
Chef Moses Wendel, formerly of Pardes in Brooklyn, is the mastermind behind a new exclusive French-American bakery. His sole mission is to feed people and make them happy. As he mentions to me more than once on my visits there: “We’re just about making our customers happy through our perfected flavors’ and special techniques.”
Wendel, who gets up at 3 a.m. for a morning jog, is already hard at work in the spacious 20,000-square- foot store by 6 a.m. He is all about giving every member of the team a voice and a chance to share their ideas. It’s no surprise that when I go downstairs to take a look at the kitchen it’s all laughter and smiles.
Here, I watch the art of croissant cutting (measuring tape involved) and taste a couple of samples. Wendel explains the science behind every door, shelf and sink that I pass. “Being part of the design process is a huge deal especially with all the kosher laws,” Wendel goes on to explain why he needs two separate kitchens, one for all the dairy delicacies and the other parve, specifically for specialty loaves of bread and challah, of course.
Patis, under the Rabbinical supervision of the Orthodox Union, is the product of a very thorough planning process in which Wendel played a huge role ensuring that no issues would arise later. “I wanted to be involved early on and really utilize every inch in the correct way. There is nothing worse than arriving on your first day to a layout that is not conducive to success, especially when dealing with a kosher kitchen.”
The glass pastry case offers a mouthwatering selection of savory and sweet options, nearly each associated with French accents and brown paper bags. We’re talking Meyer lemon tarts (beats the one I tasted in Paris) with a delicate rim of the finest meringue and sticky pecan buns with a coating so fine it cracks like a Crème Brulee. Between the extra-large Kouign Amann and fresh kalamata olive sourdough runs a trail of French classics: Madeleine cookies, chocolate éclairs, fruit and nut brioche, chocolate babka, truffle butter egg croissants and mini quiches in flavors like goat cheese, sun-dried tomato, and black garlic. Not to mention the handmade chocolate truffles and the classic baguette.
At present, the gorgeous marble tables inside seat only eight (fewer than the number of macaron flavors) but Patis Bakery plans to accommodate more soon. What was intended to be more of a to-go style spontaneously morphed into a café vibe. It’s no wonder that customers want to sit down with a hot coffee and fresh croissant, the perfect blend of homey and haute with a modern twist. Over the next 12 months, Wendel plans to open three to four more Patis locations which will each have “a distinctive character of its own.”
So now you know where to find Chef Moses Wendel and all his charming, buttery pastry masterpieces.
… And for those of you who keep postponing that trip to Paris, at least you can have a taste of it in Jersey.
Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story indicated that Patis Bakery is under the kashrut supervision of the OU and Rabbi Yechezkel Auerbach. In reality, Rabbi Auerbach no longer certifies the bakery, which remains under OU supervision alone.