If 2014 was all about the Cronut and its evangelical, queue-happy enthusiasts, 2015 is poised to become the year of the meringue if pastry chef Frédéric Vaucamps has a say in the matter. And with a century-old recipe as a guidepost, his ‘Merveilleux’ are liable to become more than a passing trend.
The serial patisserie shop owner from Lille is credited with popularizing the Merveilleux, an airy, layered meringue mound coated with sweet whipped cream and enveloped in a variety of coatings, from chocolate flakes to caramelized hazelnuts, whose origins can be traced to Northern France and Flanders (see my WSJ piece that mentioned them HERE!). This month, the first U.S. outpost of Vaucamp’s multi-location meringue shop AuxMerveilleux de Fred opened its doors to New Yorkers on 8th avenue. Which means, if Paris or Lille aren't on your travel horizon, there's an alternative destination to taste Fred's marvelous meringues.
Wide-eyed and seduced by the West Village’s European charms on his 2013 visit to New York to kickstart the project, Vaucamp was determined to find commercial space in the neighborhood that would reflect both the pâtisserie’s image and heritage. What he found was prime real estate in a three-story landmark protected building (circa 1850) near Abindgon square.
“I stayed at The Standard and loved the area. At night, I enjoyed coming back to the West Village and Meatpacking district, and experience how an historic identity can be elegantly combined with the best of modernity. The location was an obvious choice”, he said.
The shop’s design hews to the aesthetic in each of his international locations – a discreet wooden storefront, counters and display cases in Alicante marble, a bohemian crystal chandelier that lords over the kitchen, beige marble floor tiling with tiny black cabochons and murals and frescoes inspired by XVIII century art. And to further recreate the original experience and immerse the uninitiated into the pastry’s storied tradition, all Merveilleux are prepared, ingredient-by-ingredient, in front of customers in a commodious open kitchen.
With the official imprimatur of New York expats in Paris after a formal taste test, Vaucamp’s six signature flavors will take center stage in the Manhattan shop but the offering is set to evolve. The chef confirmed that he was currently working on a seventh recipe tailored to his new American audience and while he wouldn’t offer any specifics, he did guarantee it would be as ethereally light (read: low calorie) as its predecessors. Indulgence à la Française!
Aux Merveilleux de Fred
37 8th avenue at Jane Street
New York, New York 10014
New York, New York 10014
Forthcoming locations for Aux Merveilleux de Fred in 2015: Geneva (May), Lyon (date TBC) and potentially Shanghai.