of JL Patisserie - Arizona
I had the pleasure of meeting Jenna and tasting a sample of her desserts at the Beaujolais Nouveau event sponsored by the Alliance Francaise of Greater Phoenix. I was instantly hooked! I knew she was an extraordinary talent when I saw the PERFECT cake for my friend's birthday - chocolate pistachio macaron cake. Yes, it is as amazing as it sounds. As are the lemon energy balls. My new goal is to try everything on the menu!
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Waterloo, Belgium but I used to go to France a lot. I lived in Paris for 2 years while attending the Cordon Bleu. I love the Bretagne region where I used to go on vacation or for golf tournaments. The are known for their crepes, galettes , butter and caramels.
What is there to see and do in your area?
Waterloo is known because it is where Napoleon lost. There is a big lion on top of a hill to go visit with a museum displaying the war. Every year they reconstitue the battle and it is something very special.
There is a farm in Vieux-Genappe called "La Ferme du Hameau du Roy", which is located very near the Butte du Lion, that is an authentic farm restored to its original style. They make wood-fired breads as well as a large variety of pastries. I love the "pain noir" or black bread, and a pastry called "Maton" which is like a croissant, but round and filled with a sweet cheese. I get that every time.
Waterloo is about 20 minutes from Brussels, the capital of Belgium. This area is known for sugar, as it is the largest producer of sugar beets in Europe.
A favorite dish is sugar pie, which sounds much sweeter than it is. When I have made it here, people say that it tastes familiar, but they can't exactly put their finger on it. It is somewhat like toffee, but not really. It has to be experienced! It is made with "cassonade" - a European brown sugar that is hard to find here.
I don't have a favorite recipe, but here is an example of Sugar Pie:
Sugar Pie, a Belgian Treat
7 c self-raising flour
3 oz unsalted butter, ice cold and diced
1 egg yolk
1/4 c whole milk, tepid
1 Tbsp caster sugar
(For complete instructions, please click on the photo above)
1 Tbsp unsalted butter, soft at room temperature
1 medium egg
1/3 c cream
8 oz brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Do you have a favorite restaurant you want to share?
I have a few favorite restaurants; SAN Bruxelles is probably my favorite one. (This restaurant, located in Brussels, Belgium, is built around the simple concept of the bowl and spoon for a warm meal, and incorporates international culinary influences). While many restaurants create "bowls" where ingredients are separated, here each bowl is designed so that every spoonful is perfect.
What brought you to the US, and what do you do now?
I was first recruited by Boise State University when I was 17 years old to play golf on a full ride. My dad and sister played golf, so I started when I was 13 and was on the National League.
After double majoring in international business and finance I saw a need for artisanal bakeries in America. I also had a passion for baking, so I decided to move to Paris and attend The Cordon Bleu in both cuisine and pastry. My husband is from Arizona and after a few years in Europe we decided to relocate to Phoenix. (We both continue to play golf and are the couples champions at Gainey Ranch) . I started my business in 2018 by sub-renting a commercial kitchen in old town Scottsdale and selling my baked goods at farmers' markets. I also provided services for catering events or weddings. In March 2019 we opened our first retail store, selling high-end French pastries including cakes, pies, eclairs, croissants, danishes and authentic French bread. We opened our second location in Central Phoenix in December 2019.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I follow French chefs and what I see inspires me to try new things. I also listen to the wishes of my customers. And of course I use what I can find locally whenever possible - for example my Lemon Energy Balls. I always choose quality ingredients, so I do get my butter from France. It can be expensive, but the taste is totally worth it.
When you go back to Belgium and France, what are your "musts" to see, do and eat?
When I go back home a must for me is taking time to spend with my family and friends. I also always take a trip to Paris to visit different bakeries and get inspired.
You can find Jenna Leurquin and her delicious pastries at:
JL Patisserie in Scottsdale 7342 E Shea Blvd #108
Scottsdale, AZ 85260
JL Patisserie in Phoenix
4700 N Central Avenue #121
Phoenix, AZ 85012
On Facebook and Instagram @JLPatisserieAZ
In addition to these two locations, Jenna and her husband Scott also appear at various farmer's markets, offer classes (including private classes) and do a wide range of catering.
I popped by the Phoenix location for a Jenna's Matcha Tea Latte, a chocolate pistachio croissant (absolute PERFECTION!) and of course Lemon Energy Balls to bring home. She was gracious enough to give us a quick impromptu interview between baking! Excuse the lighting and poor video quality - the Arizona sun was shining brightly!
Merci mille fois, Jenna! Wishing you sweet success in 2020! See you very soon!