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Nadège Nourian of Nadège Patisserie Talks Gender, Success and the Future

Photo courtesy of Nadège Patisserie

Nadège Nourian is a 4th generation French pastry chef who believes her career path was a given. With two prime locations in Toronto and a recently introduced nation-wide shipping service she shows no signs of slowing down. Here's Nourian on the path that led her here and what's in-store for the future.

Tell us a little about your background and training?
My grandmother was my mentor. She taught me many things at a very young age. I later went on to work in the industry in Lyon to continue with my education as a pâtissier. This took me all over France, and Europe and finally to London, where I reached a peak in my career running the pastry decisions for Michelin star restaurants and overseeing 25 pastry chefs. This led me to open my own business.

There's a lot of controversy surrounding the lack of female representation in 'the boys club', a male dominated industry. What are your thoughts on this?
I agree, though now it's getting better. When I first started in Lyon, France at a young age in the industry, it was at times extremely hard. I constantly had to prove myself. I worked harder than most people, which allowed me to move up in the industry, but the more I moved up the more I had to prove myself. At a point I was working 24 to 26 hours non-stop in a kitchen.

Is it important to you to represent women well?
Yes. I believe passionate women rival the strength of men.

Prior to opening your shop did you see a void in the market for fine pastries in Toronto?
Yes, either a void or no real market for it yet. It was a big risk opening, especially in 2009 during the economic crisis.

Did you find it difficult to breakthrough the market in the beginning phase?
Yes and No. Some people were extremely supportive and said "thank goodness, finally!" Others didn't understand what we were doing.

You have two locations, how does your cliental differ at the two?
They don't, our fans are our fans and love going to both locations especially since one is a patisserie/café and the other is a patisserie/chocolaterie.

What does your typical day at Nadège look like?
I arrive very early in the morning and inspect the sections of production and showcase, answer emails, attend meetings throughout the day, continue my research and development, review/create packaging, work on new recipes in the kitchen, organize special event orders or holidays products, work daily with my kitchen staff on their skills, meet with my managers....This is just a sample of some of the things I do on a typical day at NADÈGE.

What do you think is the secret to your success?
Passion, devotion and hard work.

You recently introduced nationwide shipping, what led to that decision?
To be able to reach out to customers that request our products from all over! It's a learning process and we will build and expand on it. Online ordering and shipping is a very large business back in Europe for our industry, and we want to be the first to reach out to customers in this fashion here!

What is next for Nadège Patisserie?
More challenges, more locations and maybe a small school…
—Hana Hussein