A little Paris in west Omaha
Nothing beats the mouthwatering aroma of freshly baked bread, especially when it comes from an authentic French bakery. Le Petit Paris is a boulangerie and patisserie in West Omaha owned by Cedric and Desarae Fichepain who also own French restaurant Le Voltaire next door.
Cedric said he had always wanted to start a bakery, and when the space next to the restaurant became available, he opened one and is celebrating its one year anniversary this month. “We didn’t want it to be a mainstream sweet shop,” he said. “So we didn’t want to Americanize things too much, but rather stay true to the French culture.”
To achieve that goal, Cedric hired Yann Kogut who was named “Best Young Baker of France 2009.” Yann focuses on French white breads in a variety of forms, including oregano and cheese, sun-dried tomato and olive, as well as walnut and cranberry. He bakes just as many different types of croissants, or “viennoiserie,” including chocolate, almond, apricot, cinnamon, and raisin. To Cedric’s surprise, croissants are even more popular in the U.S. than they are in France. However, he said not as many Americans will stop by a bakery on their way home from work to pick up fresh bread for the evening meal like they do in France.
Customers who do are often people who have traveled to France and want to experience those cultural culinary treats locally. But breads aren’t the only French delicacies Le Petit has to offer. Its pastries are just as appealing, and according to Cedric, even more of an art form than baking bread. “Pastries take more patience and aren’t as forgiving,” he explained. “If you put too much yeast into bread, it’ll still turn out okay, but pastries require precision.”
Kyle Shoemaker is the bakery’s pastry chef charged with ensuring that perfection. A native of Omaha and graduate of The Institute for the Culinary Arts, Kyle specializes in dessert style pastries, candies made with fresh fruit puree, and French cakes that are mousse-based, as well as many gluten-free cakes. Of course anything with chocolate in it is always popular. “I like to make items with exotic fruits, such as cassis and passion fruit, which you can’t normally find,” Kyle said. Almost all ingredients are from France, except for the butter, which can be more difficult to work with since it has a lower fat content and more water than French butter. “But we make it taste very good,” he added.
Every few months Kyle enjoys creating a new cake or candy, but there are a number of seasonal items he includes too. This month it will be a carrot cake with goat cheese, and for Christmas he will make a “bouche de noel”, which is a traditional French log cake. “We like to always offer our best sellers and most popular items, but we like switching things out to keep it fresh too,” he said.
The bakery has been such a success in its first year, Cedric said they are planning to open a second location in 2015. “Our customers from both the restaurant and the bakery have been so loyal, and there is plenty of demand in Omaha,” he said. “Finding a niche and staying true to ourselves is important not just to us, but to our customers as well.”
Le Petit Paris
156th and Dodge