How many years have you been in business in NYC?
It seems like only yesterday when I arrived in this country barely speaking any English but hoping to “make it.”
The next big thing after moving across the Atlantic was finding a job. It wasn’t easy. Then, one day, someone suggested posting an ad on Craigslist. My response was, “Who’s Craig?” Well, thanks to Craig, I booked my first French lesson in no time, and my tutoring business took off. That was exactly seven years ago. Since then, my company, Be Fluent in French, has grown to include clients from the movie industry, Wall Street, fashion, media, and children of all ages. Three years ago, I threw a crêpe party in Montauk for some of my friends. They absolutely loved it, and encouraged me to start my catering company, Crêpes à la Maison. Now I run two companies. I’m living the American dream, and loving every minute of it.
How did you get your start and what was your initial inspiration?
One of the great things about being French is that I appreciate good food. I grew up cooking with my grandmother, and she passed down some of the most delicious recipes you can imagine. So, how did I end up starting a crêpe company? I grew up making homemade crêpes every week. It’s probably the first recipe I learned after mastering French toast (pain perdu). They’re thin and a little crispy around the edges, and can be filled with almost everything. They’re the perfect comfort food that makes me think of home. I started rewarding my students with homemade crêpes, and sometimes we’d even whip up some together after a lesson. Whenever I’d throw crêpe parties for friends, the response was always overwhelmingly positive. New Yorkers love food as much as the French, so I wanted them to experience the same authentic French crêpes that I grew up eating. I feel like I’m sharing the best of my culture through language and food!
What do you feel differentiates you from others in your field?
I think what stands out is the care and attention that we put into everything we do. Crêpes aren’t fast food. I take pride in the fact that I hand pick each ingredient from the farmer’s market and only use locally sourced organic ingredients.
For example, the ratatouille filling in our savory galettes takes about four hours to make. It’s really labor intensive to slice, dice, and sauté all those veggies, but once you taste it you know it was all worth it. The reason I enjoy going the extra mile is because nothing beats seeing the satisfied faces of those who’ve tasted my crêpes. The other thing that makes us stand out is the authentic French experience we offer. Our French chefs make their creations in front of our guests and serve them piping hot.
What do you feel gives you longevity in this big city with so many options?
Authenticity and quality. New Yorkers are probably the toughest crowd to please, so I only offer them the best. Whether it’s our food, decorations, service, or attention to detail, I work hard to make sure my clients are satisfied. Nothing is too good for them.
How do you positively impact your clientele?
I’m a positive person, and I think I exude warmth. People feel comfortable with me and trust that they’re in good hands when they hire us. They know that we put so much effort and love into each of our parties that they don’t have to worry about a thing. All they have to do is relax, enjoy, and of course, eat!
What is your favorite part of your job?
That’s a hard one because there are so many aspects of my job that I love. I love shopping at the farmer’s market because it makes me feel like I’m back in France. I love making each filling, from the sweet poached pears to the savory ratatouille for our galettes. There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing people line up for their second and third crêpe. I feel so fortunate to be able to do what I love: to cook for people who appreciate good food.
What is your favorite secret NYC spot?
I’m a little scared that if I tell you it won’t be a secret anymore! But OK, I’ll share it with you. It’s the Albertine library, which has some of the most wonderful books in French and English (http://www.albertine.com/).
My idea of the perfect afternoon is spending hours there engrossed in a book. Then I like to stop at the Met and wrap up the day with an early diner at Cafe Boulud. That’s my idea of heaven.
How do you benefit mamas?
Let’s face it: being a mom is hard work. But being a New York mom is like being a super hero. There are endless play dates, classes, doctor’s appointments, you name it! The last thing moms need to worry about is the stress of throwing a party. That’s why we’ve come up with Kids, Crepes, and Crafts. We take care of everything, so moms don’t have to (http://www.crepesevents.com/kids/).
What is the most memorable feedback a client has given you?
I taught French to the five-year-old son of one of my favorite American actresses, and she wrote me a letter saying that he loved my lessons so much that he wanted to open a French restaurant when he grew up. For Crêpes à la Maison, it was a toss-up between, “I didn’t like crêpes until I tasted yours,” and when a kid told me, “I could eat these forever.”
What is the best advice anyone’s ever given you? Or what is your “mantra” / words to live by?
I love the quote, “Make your life a dream and the dream a reality” by Antoine de Saint Exupery. There’s nothing better than doing something you love. I moved to New York for love, but more importantly, I found myself.
As moms, the day can escape us, what is your best time-saving trick?
I’m not a mom yet, but I know by looking at all the moms I work with that organization is key. I know they have a hard time balancing work, pleasure, romance, and kids.
As an entrepreneur, it’s challenging to have a social life. I try to go to bed early and wake up with the sun. It’s unbelievable how much you can do when you feel rested.