Helmut Newcake is one of 3 dedicated (and certified) gluten-free eateries in Paris. In addition to the incredible patisserie they make, they also have a daily lunch special and offer brunch on Sundays. Brunch is very popular here- in fact the first time I called to reserve a spot- 2 days in advance- they were already booked up! After reserving 4 days in advance so I wouldn’t miss out, I can see why!
The space is warm, friendly, and eclectic. Mismatched furniture, interesting art, and cosy tables are tucked into corners alongside a mini grocery area & bookshelves filled with Marie Taglioferro’s personal cookbooks.
Who is Marie Tagliaferro? The inspiration behind Helmut Newcake. Her husband, François, runs the front of the house while she makes magic in a tiny kitchen 1/2 the size of my own! Several years ago she was working for Lenôtre, one of the best pastry establishments in Paris, when she was diagnosed with Celiac. Imagine being a pastry chef diagnosed with celiac- it’s like being an opera singer who’s told she can never sing again.
Like many of us who’ve struggled with a transition to a completely gluten-free diet, François agreed the transition was not easy. “Marie gave up cooking. For awhile we both managed restaurants in London.” Thankfully for us, she couldn’t stay away.
“At first, she started experimenting, and at first it was a disaster.” smiled François. (sound familiar home chefs??) “But eventually it got better and she started working on specifics- percentages and writing down exact measures. Then in December, 2011 they took the plunge and moved back to Paris to open Helmut Newcake.
Since then, they’ve been taking the gluten-free world by storm. They’ve been featured on David Lebovitz’s blog, the New York Times Magazine, The global news agency AFP (see their video about Helmut Newcake here), and many other well respected European publications.
We visited on several occasions- enough times to enjoy nearly everything in the pastry case. While everything we tried was delicious and beautifully presented, the stars were the eclairs. *Hands Down*, these are the lightest, most perfectly balanced eclairs I’ve ever enjoyed. The filling is creamy and a delicious contrast to the light and airy pâte à choux. And, for those of you who can still eat gluten- I guarantee in a blind taste test you could not tell which one has no gluten- and in fact, I bet you’d prefer Marie’s eclairs. They’re that good.
From a pastry standpoint, I know that gluten-free pâte à choux can be a challenge. Too often it gets tough and stringy, and then it won’t puff in the oven- or it will collapse. Marie has elevated gluten-free pâte à choux to an art form, and if you only have time to stop by for one pastry- get an eclair, or another treat made with pâte à choux. Gluten-free paradise indeed.
As for that brunch we enjoyed? Heavenly. Think baskets of fresh gluten-free bread, smoked salmon, bacon, pancakes, savory tarts, and perfectly coddled eggs. And dessert? Let’s just say the sign on the counter about gluten-free paradise is correct.
I think the next time we visit Paris, we may need to stay in the 10th, just so we can stop by every day!
Merci Beaucoup Madame (et Monsieur) Tagliaferro! Vous êtes une source d’inspiration pour les chefs sans gluten partout. Nous vous remercions de votre persévérance, de dévouement et de passion.