“I have people come in every day that have never seen a cupcake before,” said Melodie Asseraf of Les Sucrerie de Mélodie. “Anything that’s typically American, they love it, but I rework it for the French palate so it’s a flavor they’re familiar with.”
Nougat, classically made with hazelnuts and almonds, gets a chocolate and strawberry spin; popcorn is reimagined with white chocolate and ginger; and mini-donuts (baked, not fried) come in seasonal flavors. The best-sellers are cookies, popcorn, and cake pops.
Asseraf moved from New York (where she was working with François Payard) to Paris to study under Pierre Hermé.
On the business side, there have been frustrations working with the French “even if you plan something perfectly,” she said. “The other day, the first day delivering to a new client, and DHL decides to go on strike. OK, so now what do you do?”
“Everything is like that. There’s always a reason they’re not at the office, always a reason they’re not working, or a reason they take three weeks to answer an email. It’s really shocking. It makes it very difficult to work with. I have the punch I guess you can say from New York. Time is money, right? Well apparently here it’s not. It doesn’t seem like it is at least.”
What had attracted her to the French clientele was an appreciation for high quality and the willingness to spend more for better quality. But she’s found that with the economy, customers are reluctant to spend more.
She is planning to return to the United States at the end of the year. “I want to bring back to New Yorkers the little French twist and the good quality,” she said.