Wednesday, August 17, 2022
Aug. 17, 2022

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East Vancouver bakery Baron Patisserie finds its sweet spot

It survives pandemic, moves to new location

By , Columbian staff writer
4 Photos
Natalie Rogers of Baron Patisserie, left, helps fill an order for customer Esmeralda Garcia of Camas. The local French bakery has been around for about seven years.
Natalie Rogers of Baron Patisserie, left, helps fill an order for customer Esmeralda Garcia of Camas. The local French bakery has been around for about seven years. (Photos by Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Each croissant that Baron Kim sells at his French patisserie, Baron Patisserie in east Vancouver, takes days to prepare.

First, he mixes the dough and lets it rest for 12 hours. Then he adds the butter, and lets that rest for another couple of hours. Then, the pastry is in and out of the fridge while it laminates.

“If it’s not at the right temperature, then the butter squirts out of it,” said Kim, 38. The carefully layered butter creates the many layers that make up a croissant’s signature texture.

But the effort is worth it. The delicately flaky but oh-so-soft treats are the most popular items Kim sells. There’s a ham and Swiss variety and almond variety, his bestsellers, along with a chocolate variety, spinach and Swiss variety and classic butter variety.

“We don’t use any preservatives or anything like that,” said Kim, as he points out the different pastries at the shop. The butter and the milk he uses are all sourced from the Northwest.

Whitney Baldwin comes to the shop with her husband and children. She loves the almond croissants. Her husband, Matt, agrees.

“Also, the pain au chocolates,” he added. “Really, it’s hard to go wrong with anything here. I have yet to have something that’s mediocre. It’s all delicious. We come every chance we get.”

Croissants, like the Baldwins’ favorite almond and chocolate ones, are the pastries Kim enjoys baking the most.

“It is time consuming, but it’s always nice when you make a nice one,” he said. “You cut one open and you get to see what it looks like.”

The treats he enjoys eating the most, however, are eclairs. Eclairs are pastry shells filled with cream and topped with chocolate or some other flavor Kim chooses on any given day.

The Wenatchee native doesn’t just sell croissants and eclairs. He sells Danishes, cinnamon rolls, brioche pastries, cookies, chocolate mousse cups, frangipane tarts, dense chocolate cakes and chocolate mousse cakes. That’s just what was on the menu one day. Besides some staple items, what he sells may change daily.

Kim’s bakery has been open for about seven years. He opened it shortly after moving to Vancouver. He had been working between Arizona and Vancouver before permanently relocating here. Kim described business during the pandemic as “pretty horrible.” He had to let a lot of employees go and he had to close the shop at one point and only sell wholesale items. But still, the business was able to survive and recently relocated to 19171 S.E. Mill Plain Blvd.

With the new location came more visibility, being on the corner of 192nd Avenue and Mill Plain Boulevard, and more space. The shop has a small indoor eating area now, as well as an espresso machine.

Usually, Kim sells special treats for Christmas — Christmas cookies, holiday Danishes and croissants or yule log cakes. But he’s not sure he’ll be able to make them this year because he and his staff are still settling into their new location.

Kim’s baking origin story began in Wenatchee, where he said he got in a lot of trouble in his youth. Things became so bad, his parents sent him to live with his aunt and uncle on the East Coast. His aunt and uncle, a Frenchman, own a few bakeries there. He worked in his family’s bakeries from the time he was 17 until he was about 22. It was around five years before he was trusted with baking pastries by himself.

“The issue was never when things went right. It’s that you have to be trained for when things get messed up,” said Kim. “Everything is growing, and then there’s time limits because you have to go on your deliveries. So, there’s not really time to just throw everything out and start over again.”

Kim gets to his shop at 2:30 a.m. to start baking. His deliveries have to be made by the time some of the local coffee shops he delivers to open up at 6 a.m.

“There is enjoyment I get out of it,” said Kim. “But I don’t know if it’s worth not sleeping.”

It’s hard to find the right people who will get up at 2 a.m. and bake, Kim said with a laugh.

Heather Allard is Kim’s fiancé. Her favorite of Kim’s pastries has always been the cherry fruit croissants.

“If I ever get an option to pick something, that’s my go-to,” she said. Allard has enjoyed baking since she was a child. Still, she didn’t know there was more than one type of croissant.

“Just watching him put in the hard work and seeing these beautiful croissants come out, it amazes me every time.”

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