French sweets for the UES


Make text smaller Make text larger


The “hell to heaven” story behind Miss Madeleine, newest addition to the neighborhood


Photos



  • Gerald and Peggy Huteau in the bakery. Photo: Laura Hanrahan




  • Miss Madeleine bakery opened on East 82 Street earlier this month. Photo courtesy of the bakery



Miss Madeleine, a bright little shop on East 82nd Street, is bringing authentic French pastries to the Upper East Side. Opened last week, the newest neighborhood addition is the result of years of dreaming and planning by husband and wife Gerald and Peggy Huteau. Named after the small French madeleine cake — their specialty — Miss Madeleine will also serve a number of other traditional baked goods, all handmade by Peggy, including baguettes and what Gerald calls “the best croissant in all of Manhattan.”

“You will find cakes, you will find macarons — all the French pastries you will find exactly as in Paris,” he said. “We’re going to have apple turnover, chocolate eclair, and French pies.”

The shop will also sell canelés, mini-pastries that were the signature creation of the store’s previous tenant, Canelé by Celine, where the couple worked for more than a year before taking over the lease. Celine Legros hired Peggy as a baker in 2015, and when Legros needed a new general manager, Peggy recommended her husband.

“Celine started the business three years ago and she decided to stop because she wanted to focus only on catering business,” Gerald said. “She asked me if I would be interested in taking over the lease and at the same time it was a great opportunity because I was looking for a store and we said yes.”

Gerald, born in Guadeloupe, and Peggy, who was born in France, met over a decade ago while working for the social security administration in Guadeloupe — he as a computer scientist and she as an administrator.

“We both got the passion about the food industry and the food business,” Gerald said of their decision to change careers. “My wife is passionate about creating new recipes and creating something very amazing. We’ve got the same passion for that and both got the same passion for New York City.”

The beginning of the Huteaus’ journey, however, was not such a seamless transition. After being denied a visa for their family three times by the U.S. Embassy, Gerald came to New York City by himself in 2014 to set up what he hoped would be their own bakery, leaving Peggy and their five children in Paris. The location a broker had procured in East Harlem, however, was less than ideal: it was too large, at nearly 2,000 square feet, and presented a string of maintenance issues.

“One day the boiler of the building exploded in my basement,” Gerald said. “It was like a swimming pool.”

After investing $150,000 in rent and repairs, he was unable to maintain the business and was forced to close after just one week. Gerald took various managerial jobs with Insomnia Cookies, Just Salad and By Suzette to keep a steady income. Finally, after months of paperwork, and replacing passports that were lost in the mail, Peggy obtained a visa for herself and their youngest daughter in 2015 and joined Gerald.

“It was a very dark period,” Gerald said. “When I got my family, my wife and daughter here, I was very happy.”

Peggy soon began working for Celine and things started to look up.

“I would tend to say that we came back from hell to heaven, because it was really difficult,” Gerald said. “Sometimes you doubt and you wonder if you’re doing the right thing because it’s something you have to take serious because there’s kids.”

Now, with their whole family together again and settled into their new life in New York City, Gerald and Peggy are happy they continued to fight for their dream.

“We are very proud of that,” he said. “What you can see here, it’s the result of a long battle.”



Make text smaller Make text larger

Comments



MUST READ NEWS

Image Dishing it out at the Vendys
Godshelter and Bisola Oluwalogbon, who serve West African fare, took top honors in the food truck competition
Image The big bike-lane boom
Spurred by several recent tragedies and demands from advocates and elected officials, City Hall may expand bicycle infrastructure to include more east-west streets, not just...
Image Yorkville after the subway
Even after the opening of the Second Avenue line, Yorkville’s aura of affordability remains — but for how long?
Image DACA: a personal perspective

A longtime community leader on his involvement with an East Harlem group devoted to helping Latino immigrants

By Stephan Russo

In February I...

Image Powers wins East Side council primary
Keith Powers emerged as the winner in Tuesday’s Democratic primary election for the District 4 city council seat, finishing atop a crowded field of candidates to replace...

VIDEOS



Sign up to get our newsletter emailed to you every week!

  • Enter your email address in the box below.
  • Select the newsletters you would like to subscribe to.
  • Click the 'SUBSCRIBE' button.

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Neighborhood Newsletters


MOST READ

Local News
Dishing it out at the Vendys
  • Sep 20, 2017
Local News
Steeped in tradition
  • Sep 13, 2017
Local News
Carnivores, rejoice!
  • Sep 13, 2017
Local News
Graduating seniors
  • Sep 13, 2017
Local News
Circus in the park rekindles tensions
  • Sep 12, 2017
Local News
DACA: a personal perspective
  • Sep 13, 2017
Local News
Making their Maarkah
  • Sep 13, 2017
Local News
The big bike-lane boom
  • Sep 20, 2017
Local News
You go, girl
  • Sep 20, 2017

MOST COMMENTED