Chantilly: The hard work of sweet treats

Gorgeous fruit tart Photos/Emily Giove

Gorgeous fruit tart
Photos/Emily Giove

I always wondered how those in the baking profession handle super early mornings. The bubbly team behind Chantilly Patisserie, many of whom arrive around 4 a.m. and clock in 80-hour work weeks, let me in on one of their secrets.

Pumping what has become an anthem of sorts, “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor, helps propel the girls onward through the often arduous process of hand-making pastry after pastry.

Pistachio macaroons

Pistachio macaroons

Given the European-style pastry shop’s prime location across from the Bronxville train station, Chantilly quickly became a favorite morning stop for commuters. Open since January 2011, the family-owned patisserie also draws in a lot of men for business meetings, which co-owner and pastry chef Mariana Delgado Gambini admits was unexpected.

More predictably, a lot of ladies come in for tea and pastries, and the small, intimate bakery has become somewhat of a date spot as well.

What started as a bakery beloved by local adults and children alike has garnered considerable attention outside of town. Advertised primarily through word-of-mouth, Chantilly has also made a concerted effort to engage consumers across major social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Almond croissants

Almond croissants

On these online accounts, you can find exclusive discounts and promotions on a regular basis—and plenty of beautiful food photos. It is no wonder the bakery now sees not only swarms of patrons from the tri-state area, but many from considerably further away. Gambini said visitors from England returned home with a Chantilly cake on the plane.

Equally impressive is the sheer volume of items prepared daily; there are always more than 120 different treats for sale. As a professionally trained pastry chef, Gambini finds most bakery items fairly easy to make. She said, the most time-consuming are croissants, by far. Danishes, while not necessarily the hardest, are also very labor intensive.

Gambini makes thousands of pastries per week and noted a time when she, with some help, constructed 10,000 macaroon tops in just two days.

Gambini emphasized you cannot rush the macaroon process for fear of veering from uniformity, and, as someone not in the business, it’s difficult to wrap my head around the extent of her hard work. These confections are enormously popular at Chantilly, and I could not choose a favorite among strawberry, chocolate and pistachio.

Tiered platters of Chantilly’s finest pastries, including cookies, croissants, cheesecake and meringues.

Tiered platters of Chantilly’s finest pastries, including cookies, croissants, cheesecake and meringues.

Faithful customers endure long Sunday morning lines for another big seller, Chantilly’s flaky, buttery almond croissants. Weekends are a particularly busy time for the shop, when families drop by to savor crackle cookies—chocolatey, decadent—mini lemon meringues, elephant ears and cheesecake.

Gambini presented me with an elegant tiered sampler platter featuring each of those items and more. She served me on cute little blue plates she said were a new purchase.

While the offerings at Chantilly are overwhelmingly French in nature, many integrate the influence of Gambini and her family, all of whom were born in Argentina. Gambini co-owns Chantilly with her sister Maria and her mother Mirta, both of whom manage the shop. Maria, a cake decorator and fine artist, is responsible for Chantilly’s beautiful and elaborate custom cakes, a constantly growing segment of the shop’s business.

In honor of birthdays, weddings and everything in between, cakes can be crafted as per any customer’s request thanks to Maria’s intrinsic creative abilities. Given her level of expertise, it is hard to believe she never attended culinary school. Maria handcrafts every aspect of each cake and loves playing around with fondant.

Elegant and beautiful custom cakes are available for any occasion.

Elegant and beautiful custom cakes are available for any occasion.

One of Chantilly’s coolest cake orders featured the façade of the New York Library for Pandora Radio. Other prestigious clients include Kraft Foods.

Through cakes and beyond, the Gambinis love playing a role in people’s various special occasions. No matter the size of the order, the family treats each equally, applying precisely the same level of care and attention to detail. The team is so detail-oriented, in fact, anyone at Chantilly can tell you exactly what ingredients go into each dish or dessert. The shop is proudly preservative-free.

Gambini is so visibly passionate about her job that, when long hours turn into long weeks, she hardly notices. I was astounded to learn she still makes time to frequent the gym. Her innate positive attitude and pride in her family’s business shines through.

Her job may be a huge part of her life, but Gambini wouldn’t have it any other way.

Chantilly Patisserie
135 Parkway Road
Bronxville, N.Y.
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