EDIBLE GEMS: Chocolates and sweet treats are stylishly displayed at Boule.
POWER COUPLE: Pastry chef Michelle Myers opened her own space across from Sona, the acclaimed L.A. restaurant she and husband David Myers run.
Boule, a world-class patisserie/chocolaterie that recently opened in Los Angeles, resembles the finest jewely store, its showcases featuring tiny, exquisite treasures. The owner, award-winning pastry chef and trained artist Michelle Myers, designed every detail of the beautiful shop, which sits across the street from Sona, the innovative restaurant she owns with her husband, star chef David Myers. Los Angeles writer Libby Platus recently asked Michelle about her new venture.
Low-carb diets, while they have waned, are still popular. What made you decide to open a patisserie now?
I am a stubborn person, and I'm very determined. This has been a dream of mine since I lived in Paris six years ago. I fell in love with the patisseries of Paris: Laduree, Fauchon...even the corner bakery had an impact on me because of the flavors, the ritual of meeting neighbors over croissants in the morning. We did not take into consideration a demand for something like Boule and the diet climate of Los Angeles.
What does Boule mean?
Boule is a French word that refers to a small, round, artisan loaf of bread. Our original intent was to include boulangerie in our store. Unfortunately, there wasn't room for a bread oven. We're using kitchens over at Sona and we have a small kitchen here. We are currently looking for property for off-site production, so we can incorporate a beautiful line of heirloom breads.
With so many restaurant operators competing for space in Los Angeles, how did you find a location across the street from Sona?
On a whim. We park in the surrounding neighborhood and walk by the same stores each day. All of a sudden there was a sign in a lighting store window.
How do you manage to be pastry chef at Sona and run Boule?
With very little sleep! It helps that Boule is close. My sister, Tracy Bobila, is the general manager. She's been involved in our company from the beginning. My sous chefs at Sona, Ron Mendoza and Xuan Viet-Ngo, are here as well, and are like brothers.
Are you planning to open other venues?
Our team is filled with many talented people. We want to build a place for them and help them fulfill their dreams because we have been so fortunate.
How do you find such outstanding employees?
Our process for hiring is quite extensive compared with other restaurants where I've worked. First we ask for a resume and references. Then we ask around in the culinary community. We go through a long interview stage. We put people in different situations and observe their work ethic and attitudes toward other people. We test their knowledge. We want to be sure of their integrity. Sometimes it takes months. But it's absolutely worth it.
Your work environment seems like a family. How did your own background influence this?
I grew up cooking with my mother and grandmother. They had Filipino recipes their mothers passed on to them. It was important to carry on that culinary heritage. For Filipinos, everything centers around the family table and the kitchen. That's where all gatherings are.
In Paris, it's said that a patisserie must have excellent macarons to be successful. Describe the difference between the macaron and the macaroon and the challenge of baking the macarons.
The American macaroon is made with shredded coconut and eggs. The French signature cookie, the macaron, with its thin, crisp outside and chewy inside, is made from almond flour. We have seven flavors: Rose Petal, Green Tea, Meyer Lemon, Venezuelan Chocolate, Gingerbread, Apple Butter and Gianduia. We have to adjust the ingredients from the U.S. to make Parisian macarons. They are very fragile. Anything-can affect them. Before they go in the oven they must dry out and get a skin on them to develop a sheen. Recently, we had a lot of humidity. We tried drying them in places all over the kitchen. We bake around 7 a.m. before the Sona team starts so the oven temperature is more constant and the air is still. Then (laughing) we carry the delicate macarons by hand across the street (a major traffic artery in Los Angeles).
Boule chocolates are like edible jewels. Eating them is an adventure: With each bite, new mysterious flavors appear. What is your favorite flavor?
You're going to make me chose one? That's a hard one.
OK, then your top four?
Fleur de sel from France: I just love it—to me it's not salty. I use it with caramel. Tahitian Vanilla Beans: They are so expensive, but I use them in everything. Single Bean Chocolate contains cocoa beans that come from one plantation like single varietal wines. I am enjoying exploring the whole world. Indonesian Long Pepper: A little heat in our Pineapple sorbet. I could go on...