I first met Chef Elyssa Fournier months ago at the Pacific Wine and Food Classic. Her pastry display was in the VIP section and by the time I made it over there, I had already eaten half my weight in just-seared tacos and those one-bite swirls of sesame spaghetti.
Enter: Elyssa’s meringues. Yep, my stomach would find the room to indulge.
Her pastries lined the long table inside the VIP space like sugary temptresses of the late-afternoon, begging for a taste. I’m still dreaming about the subtle artistry of one particular variety I tried, a vanilla confection filled with mascarpone cream and topped by a smattering of delicate chocolate sprinkles.
Of course her baked goods would be perfection; Elyssa hails from a long lineage of bakers, and her penchant for tradition is rounded out by a depth of experience working with some of the world’s finest pastry chefs. In New York City, she earned a degree in pastry arts from the French Culinary Institute. Next, she studied in the kitchen of Le Cirque’s renowned pastry chef, Jacques Torres, and then honed her craft at New York bakeries Musette, Café Indulge and Le Pain Quotidien.
Yet Southern California called her name in echoes of crashing waves and shards of golden sunshine, so hand-in-hand with her husband Chef Yves Fournier, Elyssa went west. After five years as head pastry chef at Andrei’s Conscious Cusine in Irvine, Calif., she founded Mixed Bakery, based in Corona del Mar.
It’s her Mixed Bakery inventions I sampled at Pacific Wine and Food, the same event where we exchanged business cards and have kept in touch ever since. (A recent email from her alerted me that if you want to try Elyssa’s pastries this weekend, head down to OASIS Senior Center on Saturday for the Flower Streets Artisan Marketplace.)
Elyssa also bakes to order, specializing in tarts, muffins, cookies and French pastries. But really, her creations need no labels; with baked goods this delicious, you can simply call them sweet.