There are a few things New Yorkers can expect to see during fall Fashion Week: runway models, media moguls, and Ladurée macarons. From backstage at the tents to star-studded soirees, it is hard to walk a city block without spotting a tray of the candy-colored confections. Fun fact: they are gluten-free, too! This year, the famous French pastry shop is collaborating with fashion designer Donna Karan to create a limited-edition box of mouthwatering macarons in honor of the label’s 30th anniversary, available exclusively at the Madison Avenue and Soho outposts during Fashion Week.
Haute Living chatted with the man behind New York’s growing macaron obsession—Ladurée Soho Executive Pastry Chef Jimmy Leclerc—about sourcing local ingredients, beginning the baking process at 3 AM every day, and making sure that all of the delicious desserts taste just like they do in Paris.
What separates Ladurée Soho from other bakeries around the city?
It’s very French. We’re not trying to adapt to the American taste. Our desserts are not so sweet. They are sweet, but they are not so sweet. We play a lot with texture—in one cake, you can find a lot of different textures.
Are any of the pastries specific to New York City?
No. If you come here, it’s exactly the same as if you came to our store in Paris.
Do you create any of your own recipes?
No, they create all the recipes in Paris. Everything comes from the Ladurée bible. We cannot invent a recipe without having a committee decide. It’s a big process! There’s even a presentation. We create a pastry, we show them what we did, and once everyone agrees on that product, we start to do it.
Is it difficult to keep the taste consistent in all of the locations?
It took me a few months to find the same ingredients we use in Paris. The restaurant opened in February, but I moved here the previous October because sourcing the ingredients took that much time. Each recipe needs to be adjusted because the ingredients vary between countries. It’s not going to be a new flavor, but in order to maintain the consistency and the level of quality, you need to source the butter and the flour.
Is there a big difference between the flour and butter in NYC and Paris?
Yes. For example, the fat content in the butter is not the same.
Do you use locally sourced ingredients?
Yes. We always want to use the best quality ingredients we can find.
What time do you begin baking every day?
3 AM. We have a team of 10 and we make everything fresh, so we have to prepare the croissants and other pastries for our opening at 8 AM.
Do you have a big sweet tooth?
I never get sick of sweets.
Is there a big demand for macaron wedding cakes?
Yes. We have a lot of options. We can make each layer a different flavor and can make them as big as customers want.
What is your favorite flavor macaron?
Does Ladurée Soho offer any desserts that are good for people with allergies?
All of the macaroons are gluten-free, and some have no dairy.
What dessert is most popular with children?
The strawberry. They love the look and the taste. It’s the one kids are always asking for.
What do you do with all the pastries that are not sold each day?
We give them to the staff.