On May 1, 2020, a new bakery opened in Chatham and has been bringing joy to the people in town and the surrounding areas ever since. Fleur de Sel Patisserie provides authentic French pastries made with the highest quality ingredients.
“Our lemon meringue tart is very popular, as well as our mille-feuilles (two layers of puff pastry filled with pastry cream), and our chocolate hazelnut pralines in both individual pastries and cakes,” says owner Patricia Etel Khawand. “We are also known for our croissants; those are our staple. We usually run out by 10:00 or 11:00 in the morning.”
The croissants come in a variety of flavors including chocolate, butter, almond and cheese. Other offerings include their macarons, chocolate raspberry mousse, strawberry, mango and chocolate banana tarts, eclairs and a variety of made to order and customizable cakes.
Everything in the bakery is made from scratch in their on-site kitchen with only fine imported ingredients such as chocolate from Belgium and butter from France. “Taste and quality go hand in hand and our focus is more on the taste than anything else,” she says. “But of course, we make them look pretty too.”
Born in Lebanon, Patricia grew up in France and Lebanon and also travelled to Brazil twice a year. Her mother was born in Africa and grew up in France, and her father was born in Lebanon and grew up in Brazil. Her international childhood prepared her well for a career in hospitality, which took her all over the world.
She has worked in hotels in various locations, including the Intercontinental in Lebanon, the Ritz Carlton in Bahrain, the Four Seasons in Paris, the Sofitel in Chicago, and the W in Union Square, New York.
While working for a French marketing company in New York and living in Chatham, Patricia decided she didn’t want to spend hours every day traveling back and forth for work and to be away so long from her young daughters, who are only 7 and 9 years old. She needed to find a better work/life balance and wanted to find something she could dedicate herself to closer to home.
“After I got married and had children I was working in Manhattan, and I didn’t want to commute into the City anymore because my girls are little,” she says. “I thought it is the perfect opportunity to realize my dream and open my own food business”.
Fleur de Sel, located right in the heart of town, is a 10-minute walk from her home. She says she chose Chatham because whenever she and her family wanted to enjoy good French pastries, they had to drive at least a half hour or an hour away. Or, she would need to ask her husband to bring them from the City and carry them back on the train, which could be difficult.
“I thought there was a need in the town, and people would appreciate a little taste of France,” she says. “It's on Main Street, so it’s very visible with a lot of traffic. And the space is the right size. We have a big kitchen in the back where we make our products which are made daily from scratch. Our executive pastry chef and his team start at 4:30 am and work their magic to get everything ready by 8:00 am. I’m in charge of the savory.”
Savory items include quiches, which vary from leek, mushroom, asparagus, and goat cheese to bacon and ham. There are at least four different varieties of quiche each day. They also have soups on a daily basis, such as butternut squash and potato and leek, and salads.
The bakery is open from 8:00 to 3:00 and closed on Mondays. Because of COVID, they did not open their indoor seating, and now have only outdoor seating. When Mother Nature cooperates, patrons are welcome to sit outside and enjoy a pastry and a hot beverage.
Fleur de Sel serves Illy coffee, and has a full beverage menu from espresso, cappuccino and lattes to hot chocolate, teas, and iced drinks such as cold brew iced coffees, iced teas and iced lattes.
“We have a lot of support from the community,” says Patricia. “We’re also very happy to be able to serve our customers quality products and to cater to their special occasion needs.”
For Valentine’s Day, the bakery will be offering special macarons and individual pastries and cakes. As with all their everyday products, Patricia strongly encourages preordering. As with the croissants, many items fly out of the cases fairly early in the day.