By Denise DePaolo
Since CH Patisserie opened its doors in 2013, owners Chris and Caryn Hanmer have endeavored to bring a piece of Europe to the heart of Sioux Falls. Known for its vibrantly-colored macarons and decadent desserts, the French-style bakery has recently added brunch to its repertoire. Top Chef: Just Desserts winner Chris gets in-depth about some of his signature offerings on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday mornings.
How does CH Patisserie’s brunch work?
CH: Our brunch is designed for two people. You get to select four of our macarons. Then you can select two croissants or cinnamon rolls, then you get two beignets and coffee. That’s all for $20.
Let’s talk about this gorgeous-looking caramel roll. Is that gold leaf on top?
CH: I asked, ‘What would I do?’ I didn’t want to make just a caramel roll. I wanted to use things from my background. So if I was at the Ritz or my place, what would I make? That’s why I call it Brioche au Caramel – ‘brioche with caramel.’ We bake it in caramel, then put more caramel on it, and add sea salt while bakes, and it just felt cool to put gold leaf on a caramel roll.
Our brioche dough is great, but how can we make it in a really good way? A caramel roll was perfect. It was kind of a salute to a Midwest-type thing, but a lot of caramel rolls you get are really dense. They’re great – I’m not saying they’re not – but with this dough, they’re a lot lighter.
I just wanted to make a good caramel roll that I might experience somewhere in Europe. I’ve never worked for an American pastry chef, only French and Swiss, so I asked myself, ‘What would they make if the GM of the hotel said, ‘Make a caramel roll.’ And they’d be like, (feigning a French accent) ‘What is zis caramel roll?’
Which macaron flavors are we trying today?
CH: These are pumpkin spice, vanilla bean, salted caramel, and iced coffee. The salted caramel macaron is the best seller we have. Our top three sellers are all macarons. We work really hard to make them excellent all the time. If you’ve ever had them, trying a good one for the first time is an experience.
You have lots of macaron flavors, what about the croissants?
CH: This is our ham and cheese croissant. They come in four flavors – classic, chocolate, ham and cheese, and almond. We alternate the almond between chocolate almond and plain almond every week.
Our ham and cheese is really popular, because it’s the most savory item we do. We have several locals who come in and buy three or four every week and have them for lunch throughout the week at work.
What’s been your most popular brunch item?
CH: It’s tossup between the beignet, chocolate croissant, and the ham and cheese croissant.
Where’s your coffee from?
CH: We get our coffee from Coffea. Before we even opened, we met them. It’s great that they roast it. Even in Vegas, there wasn’t a small roasterie in town. It really didn’t exist. It’s been a fun education for me. When we opened, we wanted to keep the coffee concept very simple. We do great drip coffee and great French press. That’s how my wife and I like to drink coffee – in a French press – so we added that in. We want people to slow down and enjoy it. Anybody can push a button on an espresso machine and maybe you’ll get a good cappuccino, maybe not. Coffea does great cappuccinos. They’ll get you hooked, so watch out.
The great thing about Coffea is they’re so seasonal and so limited, we might have one type or roast for three or four weeks, then it’s gone until next year. I’ve discovered I really like Ethiopia coffees. They’re really floral. It’s the first time I’ve had coffee with taste, instead of just being burned and bitter. You can drink it black.
What do you hope people get out of eating your food?
CH: We want people to feel welcome here. We want you to come in and try something you never knew you wanted your whole life. My whole career has been primarily in five-star hotels. It’s a discerning clientele and the standards we have are very high.
This is what I’d do anywhere else, whether it was The Bellagio or a Ritz-Carlton or anywhere else. We’re doing things for everybody. If you’ve never tried a ham and cheese croissant, come try ours. It’s really good. I don’t mean that to be pretentious, but we work really hard at it and we have really dedicated cooks that are working on it with a lot of experience, and we care deeply about what we do. If you’ve only had a croissant from a grocery store chain, try one here. It’s life changing.
Every Friday, Saturday, Sunday I come in here and even after 20 years, I try a croissant and I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, that is so good.’
You come here for the experience. I want people to make memories with food. I want them to take something that someone put their heart and soul into and take a bite and say, ‘Wow, that’s good.’
CH Patisserie is located at 309 S. Phillips Ave. in downtown Sioux Falls. For more info, click here or call (605) 275-0090.