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French baker’s coloured ‘art’ croissants draw queues round the block

A 22-year-old baker who perfected his viennoiserie skills in lockdown once sold his whole stock in 24 minutes due to his colourful and creative designs

A photo of a close-up of a row of freshly-baked croissants

Maxence Lelait‘s picture-perfect croissants and pains au chocolat drew crowds and queues around the block Pic: Maxence Lelait / @ElCuistoo / Twitter

A young French baker who started to create artistic, colourful pastries at home during the first lockdown has found success online and in his neighbourhood, selling out his entire stock in less than 30 minutes. 

Maxence Lelait, a 22-year-old originally from Montreuil, Seine-Saint-Denis, began to create the vibrant viennoiserie in his kitchen, with music at full volume.

Mr Lelait learned to cook and bake at the famous école Ferrandi in Paris, but his real passion for making creative viennoiseries grew during the first Covid lockdown in 2020. Previously, he had been making burger buns at the nearby Avec Amour - Le Burger restaurant.

Mr Lelait’s boss, Antonin, bought him a laminator to help him make more precise pastries. He practised for a year before the restaurant said that they would be happy to sell his creations at the weekend.

And the baked goods proved a success, attracting crowds and long queues. He told the HuffPost: “One weekend, I hit a record, and sold everything in 24 minutes.”

He joked: “[During lockdown] there was nothing to do, so I threw myself into making viennoiseries, with my rolling pin and my butter from Carrefour.”

He uses natural colourants to achieve an artistic, multi-coloured look. These include cocoa, vegetable charcoal, and beetroot.

He said: “I like to innovate without compromising the basic products. That's why I focused on pains au chocolat and croissants. I don't want to lose myself by making things that are too far removed from the natural product.”

He said: “It made my work more interesting than just making burger buns…Antonin really helped me so that I didn’t feel lost in a big establishment.”

The baker said that social media has “changed everything”. He said: “Before, I didn’t sell any at all, but the visibility on social media changed that.”

Last March, he posted a photo of his “most beautiful croissant”, and the post went viral. He said: “It was mad. Likes and retweets came from all over.” He now has more than 50,000 followers on Instagram and Twitter.

The young baker has now left Montreuil and has moved to the west of France, so his beautiful pastries are no longer for sale at the restaurant.

He is now working at the two-Michelin-starred restaurant La Marine in Noirmoutier. He said: “I’m ready for a new adventure that will surely be full of many new things.”

Of his viennoiserie, he said: “I haven’t left the [baking] profession; perhaps I’ll come back to it again one day!”

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