As love sometimes does in the Bay Area, it started with Instagram DMs.
In 2016, Paul Feybesse was visiting his wife, Monique, in San Francisco. He was toying with an idea for a pie. Both hailed from historic kitchens in Europe – the couple met in the ornately decorated Geranium and worked for three Michelin stars Yannick Alleno – but lacked formal baking training. Nonetheless, some level of magic allowed Paul to construct a sculpted apple pie (fans know it these days as the Rose Apple Pie) with thin, crispy apple slices spiraling down its spine. base. When friends and family started buying it, Monique spread the word on Instagram. “We got big that way,” says Monique. For a very long time, the couple sold their baked goods purely through social media and word of mouth, while working their respective jobs.
But then the pandemic arrived and with Paul on leave from the Bocuse d’Or and Monique on maternity leave, the couple once again focused on the business. They decided to bake bread for the neighbors, starting with one loaf each morning before expanding into other savouries, confections, pastries, as well as an expanded menu of pies. The former supporters of Tart de Faybesse noticed this, and the business began to show great promise. “When people came from San Jose [to Vallejo] to pick up bread and pies, we knew it would work,” says Monique.
Here’s another reason: Tart de Feybesse’s pies are terrific, possibly the best the Bay Area has ever seen. When I first ordered all of their pies during the pandemic, I marveled at the thoroughness of the couple’s technique, how it mimics French haute patisserie – a standard where Paul hails from – and ingenuity in recreating delicious classics – while paying homage to the Bay. One of their pies, for example, features local stone fruit, the kind that only graces farmers’ markets fleetingly in season. “Trying to respond to that and put it in our path is important to us,” Monique says.
The bakery sells out frequently every week. Delivery and wholesale have doubled in the past year, and they’re stretching until they can find retail space to set up shop – hopefully soon.
For a closer look at how some of the couple’s proudest offerings come together, keep reading.
Baking connoisseurs know how difficult it is to perfect eclairs. Paul took months to find the right everything: the flour, the oven temperature, the icing, even the thickness of the fondant on top. The less difficult ones, according to Paul, look cracked, lack uniformity, or have a messy glaze.
“Our son and our neighbors have been overloaded with lightning for two months,” says Paul. The returns were quick. “Children never lie to you. If they don’t like it, they don’t eat it. But the work paid off. Tart de Feybesse’s eclairs are now perfect, I can vouch for it, with a nail polish-like glaze, rugged exterior and smooth filling. They sell over 500 a week.
Monica’s favorite? Eclairs ube or pandan, which are inspired by the flavors of Southeast Asia that she grew up with.
The chouquettes look like miniature cream puffs, though they’re more exactly crispy, scooped out of a puff pastry covered in pearl sugar. You can find them in some pastry shops in the city. But you won’t find them in pie form anywhere in the United States. It is an original creation by Les Tarts de Feybesse. “One day, Paul said to me: ‘We should make a chouquette, but in the form of a pie'”, recalls Monique.
Others may not have tried simply because of the difficulty of creating. Balance is key; if the pastry is cooked, the puffs may not be, given the different cooking times. On the other hand, if the pie is taken out of the oven too soon, the chouquette will collapse. Waiting too long to remove the pie from the oven would also mean that the steam will not release, resulting in a less crispy pie.
Paul eventually perfected the timing and the pie became a staple for the couple. It’s filled with salted caramel and cream, with the characteristic puffiness of a crispy pastry on top.
You wouldn’t guess this pie is made with beer from its looks – it’s a thing of beauty, with an accordion-like piping of cream that encircles the crust. The filling is made with Guinness, reduced by a quarter, then folded into a rich pastry cream.
While most Tart de Feybesse pies use a sweet pâté, made from almond butter, Paul relied on a lesser-known technique from Morocco for this pastry. It uses extra-fine semolina flour, which stabilizes the dough differently and gives it a crispier texture. “We love Moroccan pastries,” says Paul. “It is not known in the United States, but in France it is common to work with Moroccans in certain campaigns.”
Tarts de Feybesse places pre-orders through the bakery website and delivery partners, Pastel and Locale. Deliveries can be made a maximum of 14 days in advance. Some pastries are sold at Ballast Coffee and pop-up locations. follow on instagram for updates.