Rendez-Vous with Estelle Lebbrecht Owner and Chef of Estelle Gourmet Larchmont, NY
Photo Credit Alexandra Créteur
Estelle Lebbrecht is the owner and chef of Estelle Gourmet, in Larchmont, NY. Her boutique is a lovely place with two separated spaces : . A sitting area where customers can have a light lunch, coffee, tea or just a pastry ; . An area dedicated to cooking classes
She probably makes the best crepes and French pastries in Westchester! Estelle also provides catering for parties of all sizes, whether they are cocktail parties or seated dinners. She welcomed me in her kitchen one sunny morning. We experimented with a new recipe for Paris-Brest, one of my favorite French Pastries made with choux pastry and praline cream. Later, she answered a few questions about her personal and professional path.
Where were you born? I was born in Yaoundé, Cameroon where I lived until I left to go to college in France.
When did you come to the US? I arrived from France in 2009 with my husband and 2 children.
When did you know you wanted to make food your career? I have been passionate about cooking since I was young. I cooked a lot for my friends and family, and they always enjoyed trying my recipes. However I didn’t start out on this career path, I first chose to work in the banking industry in France. It was when we moved to NY that I took the opportunity to make my passion for cooking a career.
What was your path and did somebody inspire you in that path? My first inspiration was Mr Jerome, our private chef when I was a child in Cameroon. He was trained by French chefs, and I spent hours in the kitchen watching him cook for our family. Some of my favorite dishes that he used to cook were “Coq au vin” and “Hachis parmentier”. I developed my palate with his food and then I learned a lot from his techniques. Years later, when I came to NY, I met a French Chef at a networking meeting. She was talking about how she switched from auditing to becoming a private chef. I was so impressed by her courage to be able to make her passion her career that I decided to talk to her to find out how she achieved it. Weeks later, she helped me take my first steps into the food industry. She trained me first, and then I worked with her in the City as a personal chef. A few years later, I decided to open my first shop in Larchmont.
When did you open Estelle Gourmet’s shop? I opened Estelle Gourmet’s shop in January 2015.
Can you tell me more about the concept of Estelle Gourmet? Estelle Gourmet is a French cooking place which provides fresh and healthy food to our customers. In the shop we have an area dedicated to the Café where people can sit and enjoy our specialties. The other part of the space is the cooking class area where our customers can learn and cook new recipes with friends or celebrate a birthday party. Estelle Gourmet also provides catering for parties of all sizes. It can be finger food or seated dinners. We listen to our customers’ needs and try to make their events a success.
What do you like best about your job? Through cooking you can make people happy, healthy, have a good time and share good memories with friends or family.
And between cooking and baking? I love baking. Baking helps me to be more precise and disciplined. You can’t change the ingredients in a recipe with baking as it can change how the recipe turns out. Too risky! Cooking is a lot of fun because it allows me to be more creative.
Where do you find inspiration? Every year I like to travel to France and other countries, and I love to find inspiration everywhere. It can be in a trendy restaurant in NY, a bakery in Paris or a food festival…
Which are your favorite dishes and pastries? Some of my specialties are Coq au Vin, Chicken Tajine and Choux à la Crème which, I guess, a few people enjoy in Westchester.
What are your hopes for the future? 2 years in the life of a business is a lot but at the same time so little. Estelle Gourmet still has a lot of challenges to overcome. My hope for the future is for more people to discover and enjoy my food!