A couple of months ago now (time flies!!) we spoke to David, and now it’s Yann’s turn. 🙂 Yann Fougere is the other half of Bon Macaron, and he’s shared some of his own favourite “food things and French things” as well as his story of coming to Canada and opening Bon Macaron.
What’s your favourite part of France?
Paris. It has to be Paris. I mean, France is so different from region to region. I haven’t been to the East much, I should because my grandmother is from there, but I’m more into the South, where David is from. Both the South East and the South West. The food in the South West is amazing, and you have the surfing. I used to go camping there with friends around when I was finishing high school. But Paris is just something on its own. I’d say the centre is my favourite, the area around Notre Dame. You have the Marais on one side, Saint-Michel on the other, there are tonnes of small restaurants. You can walk forever. There’s always something to do there, whether it’s exhibitions, movies, parties, whatever you feel like. And the Jardin du Luxembourg—I used to call it my garden when I was a kid because I would go there and play soccer with my friends and with my Dad all the time. As far as restaurants and cafes, there are loads of small places that have been there for a long time. There’s one next to where my parents live, a wine bar. The advantage of wine bars in Paris is that, while the menu is going to be smaller, you know that it’s been made in-house. You don’t have twenty different items to choose from but what they have, they know exactly where it came from. My best friend there owns one, Comme Chai Toi, and when you go there, the menu is written in chalk and it depends on what they’ve found that day. And it’s right next to Notre Dame so you get the view, too.
What do you miss as far as food and what do you like to cook here?
One thing I really miss from France—though you’re starting to be able to find it here—is steak tartare. The raw steak with the condiments and the sauces: some restaurants prepare it really well and that’s the first thing I eat when I go back to France. There’s a really wide variety of meat in France, too. You can get duck easily, rabbit, all kinds of game. I used to cook more. With the shop it’s hard. And my fiancé cooks very well, so that doesn’t encourage me to cook! [laughs] But one dish I really like to make is gnocchi with blue cheese sauce, or with brown butter sage. You just put it in the oven with a little bit of parmesan on top, and crème fraîche… It’s not very light, though. When I cook it’s not very light, you have cream, you have butter…
How did you end up over here in Victoria?
I graduated from high school in Paris and decided I wanted to see a bit more of France, so I went to the South for a couple of years and started my business degree there, which is where I met David. I had the opportunity to transfer, which allowed me get my bachelor’s degree from two universities. I thought about going to Montreal but I wanted to be able to practice my English. And I didn’t want the minus forty degrees. UVic has an entrepreneurship program that they’re very well known for, and which sounded really interesting to me. So I came to UVic for my last two years. It turned out I was able to do an exchange from there, too—so I did six months in Hong Kong. And then I took the co-op option. I looked all around the world for programs, which lead me to Namibia, where I spent six months taking care of public relations for the National Art Gallery there. And then I came back to do my last semester at UVic.
And what lead to Bon Macaron?
Just as I graduated, the cafe where I was working, Vieux Montreal, closed. So I had to find a job. My parents basically told me, “If you’re staying over there you’d better find yourself a job, we’re not going to be paying for your condo.” I actually worked at Macchiato for a month and a half, and then customers I knew from Vieux Montreal heard that they were looking for a manager at Murchie’s. They introduced me to the chef, who’s also French, and we got along really well. I stayed at Murchie’s for four years. They helped me get my permanent residency. They had so many different pastries but when they started selling macarons I noticed how popular they were. And I realized the flavour possibilities were literally endless. David and I wanted to start a business. We had thought about taking over Vieux Montreal, but there are so many products with a full bakery and so much knowledge you need to start with—the different breads, the croissants—and we wanted something where we could have complete control of the process, and run it easily with just the two of us. It took a while to find the right location and for everything to happen, but then it all came together at once: we got the property, my permanent residency came through, and we were like, ‘Ok, let’s go for it.’ We thought that we’d be busy that first December and that January would slow down, but at the beginning of January we got the cover of the business edition of the Times Colonist. The Saturday it came out… everybody came in that day. And that triggered quite a lot of press. CTV News came and shot for their Monday segment, we did a couple of CBC radio spots. Eat Magazine, blogs, all these people started mentioning us and that really got the ball rolling.
And now Bon Macaron is expanding to Vancouver, which is very exciting!
We had a booth in front of the new Kitsilano location during Greek Day—that was our start in Vancouver and we should officially open before the end of July! David and I and our new manager are going to be making a lot of macarons for the opening. And the odds are that for the first days after that, until we hire someone else, it’s just going to be me in that big new kitchen…
Do you see macarons when you close your eyes at night??
It’s not even just the baking, it’s what recipes I have to make, what’s getting low, what ingredients needs to be ordered, what orders are going out—we’ve been getting a lot of big orders lately with weddings and baby showers. I have dreams about it all.