We’d love for our customers to know a bit more about us. So here’s the first in a series of posts about our owners and staff—the people who are Bon Macaron: a little interview with owner David Boetti!
How did you end up in Victoria?
I was born and raised in Cannes, in the South of France. When I was around fifteen I took a trip to Canada with my Mom—every summer we took a trip together. We did the East first and we enjoyed it so much that the following year we did the West. One part of that trip was coming Victoria, and I loved it. It’s really similar to where I grew up. And Vancouver Island is a little bit like what Corsica is for the South of France; it’s not as warm here, of course, but compared to the mainland it has nicer weather, there’s not as much rain. I’ve always liked the island lifestyle, being surrounded by water. I love diving, I love sailing. I just need water. One thing I’ll always remember is, we were walking along the harbour here—I was fifteen—and a big group of skater girls walked by, and started to whistle at me. The second after that I looked at my mom and I told her, “You know what? One day I’ll come back and live here.” I was young, I was a teenager, it was a good experience. But there really was something particular about the island, something about the energy, the feel of the place. I just knew I was supposed to be here.
In the end, I came back ten years later, when I was around 25. The main reason was, I went to university in France, and at university I met Yann. He was a year ahead of me, and when I first got there he was leading a campus tour for the new students. I was with my girlfriend at the time and she was a little bit more serious than me, so I had to look serious. So I kept asking Yann questions which he had no idea how to answer. That’s how our relationship started: me really annoying him to show off in front of my girlfriend. It was one of the rare schools in France where you could do all the courses in English, and you had to do two years at the school but you had the option of doing two out of the four years somewhere else. After my first year and a half there, Yann went to UVic—a lot of people that I knew at university moved here—and I already knew I loved Victoria, so it was an opportunity for me to come over. It was just supposed to be for two months and it ended up being three and then four and so on… It was hard for me to leave my mom and my grandma, but I felt in my guts I had something to do here, whatever it was. I guess it was opening a macaron store! But I think there’s really something special about the Island. Everything in my life brought me back here. Yann was one of my closest friends, and out of all the universities across the planet that he could have chosen, decided to come to UVic. What were odds of my best friend coming to the city that I’d fallen in love with ten years ago?
And what made you decide to open a macaron shop?
The year before we opened the shop, I was scuba diving every day, and I did a course to become a PADI certified instructor. I went down to Mexico for a week just to look at this one sailboat that had so many things engineered for diving, living, and fishing. It was such a beauty. The idea was to buy it, come back to Victoria and get rid of everything, then go back and live on it and sail around Mexico, Panama… But I slept on the boat for one night and I had a dream that I’d wake up ten years later, with nothing, with all my savings having gone into the boat. And I asked myself if that was what I wanted. I have such a strong relationship with my mom. She’s taken care of me all my life, and eventually I want to be able to take care of her. The sailboat plan wasn’t a good one for that. So when I came back to Victoria I sat down with Yann instead. We’d been wanting to do something together for a long time, people had been telling us how well we work, especially when we’re together. And we just thought, what can we bring to Victoria that they don’t have at a certain scale? Yann came up with the idea for a macaron store and we just started talking about it on his sofa, between two Xbox hockey games. I really trust him, he’s a very smart guy. He first started making macarons when he was the manager at Murchie’s and now he’s always in the Bon Macaron kitchen—the quality of everything we make is really important to us, so it’s worth putting the time in there. A lot of people thought we were crazy, tried to warn us against it. When we first opened we worked twelve hour days, seven days a week with no employees. Then we went to alternating Sundays where I would work alone, and then Yann would work alone. And then after five months we started hiring. But after two and half years in business, we’re working on a second store and maybe even a third. So I think that shows some success!
What’s one of your favourite places in France?
I had the opportunity to go to Corsica pretty much every year in the summer with my mom and grandma. Corsica is French but there are a lot of Italian roots there, a lot of that hot blooded Italian/South of France, Sicilian element. The people that live there have conserved it to a point that you wouldn’t believe. I remember when I was a kid they built a McDonald’s there, but the locals basically just refused to let it open. And McDonald’s never tried to come back. If you want to live there and build a house, you have to use material from the island, you have to use workers from the island, and you have to get authorization from the Corsicans, but because of them they’ve kept the island without big corporations, without having just anyone that has money come along and build a gigantic house. We rent a place up in the mountains, in an old, French-style village that’s been there for hundreds of years, and we just stay there with the people. It’s good food, good people, but there are certain subjects you still don’t want to talk about there. You don’t flirt with a girl with her brother or her dad anywhere around. Because it’s so traditional though, it’s really well preserved. There’s hardly any pollution, no big trucks. It’s one of the most beautiful places on Earth.
What kind of food do you tend to eat in Canada, compared France? What do you miss?
I eat a lot of cheese and bread. Things I really miss from France are cheap wine, cheap cheese, good cheap bread, and good foie gras. I miss a lot of the restaurants in France, too. When I go back I always go to this one place that’s about an hour and a half from our home in Cannes. It’s in a small village up in the mountains. You go and you sit, and the first thing they do is bring you a big bucket of butter, and unlimited cheese and pâté. That’s what you get for just sitting down. You haven’t ordered anything yet, not even wine. By the time you get your food, you’re not hungry, but you eat it anyway because it’s so delicious. I miss the pizza from Italy and the South of France. And a veal liver, a tartar, confit, duck breast marinated in honey… You can get a lot of really good food for a really great price in France. And the markets. You go every Wednesday, every Saturday, there are so many small farmers that bring their products into the city to sell: the guy who just milked his cows and has brought in the milk, or has made cheese from his goats’ milk. I eat too many burgers here! I haven’t cooked as much since I started the business, but I do killer pizza.