When you have a decent following on social media, you tend to get ‘tagged’ in a lot of pictures. Most of the time, its pretty annoying. Everyone is trying to get a bigger audience for their posts and we tend to just ignore most of it. But when Chef Camille Le Caer started tagging us in his Instagram photos, we couldn’t ignore them for long. At the time, Chef Le Caer was working at Giancarlo’s and posting ridiculously gorgeous photos of desserts coming out of the kitchen. But it was when we started seeing French Macarons that we grabbed our attention. This notoriously difficult dessert is hard to find locally and since Sarah Walley retired (and now moved out of Buffalo), we’ve been looking to get our fix. So after tasting some macarons at Grivani Cafe and going through Camille’s Instagram feed, we know he was someone that we had to reach out to.
In the time we started this interview to publication, Camille has left Giancarlo’s and has started working at Neat.
How did you end up in Western New York?
Camille: In September 2014 I received an offer to work in NYC as the Pastry Chef at Bagatelle in the Meatpacking District. While in NYC, I worked as the Pastry Chef for Fig & Olives and consulted for my friend’s company called Crepe Sucre.
I meet my wife Alexandria in Bushwick (she was my neighbor at the time) and we get married a few month later. Once we became pregnant, we realized it was no longer possible to be in the city and have a baby in NYC. We decided to move away from NYC into Lockport, my wife’s hometown. It took me a minute to get familiar with the area. Everything was new and it wasn’t the same food mindset. I realized the concept of dessert (bakery) European style was going to be difficult to be understand by the locals but I hoped that a lot of foodies live in Buffalo.
That was my biggest challenge when I started at Giancarlos a year ago as the Executive Pastry Chef. I remembered some dishes were not selling at the very beginning. One day, I asked the server to ask the customer what they like. After getting a list of some favorites, I started to create dishes like a homemade snicker bar; a creamsicle macaron; twix macaron; cookie dough macaron or the famous pbj blackberry macaron. Then the first local prize came, top 10 best dessert with my Tiramisu recipe by the Buffalo News and followed by Best Dessert in the Suburbs by Buffalo Spree.
What are some of the foods you miss most from France?
Camille: The seafood. I love sea bass or st peter, oyster, crab. The fish is always fresh in the morning. You can get pretty much everything everywhere now with the globalization. The only matter is the quality of the products, I miss the taste of some fruits from France. They grow everything faster here and you lose a lot in quality (tart taste, strong texture..a big example are strawberries).
What are some food memories from your childhood?
Camille: Brioche. I remember love the taste of a good buttery/rhum brioche, (the ones who make you fat but you love them to much to stop eating them).
Also, I remember the first time when my mom asked me “you want to cook” and I said “yes please.” It was a Sunday, 10am and a family of five were expecting lunch by 12pm. The preparation was a fillet mignon. I didn t make it on time the first try and the taste was definitely not there. But I tried again and learned more of the product and kept trying until it’s became something with different level of flavors.
My style still the same, I learn of a product and just keep touching the intensity of flavors. I was having a trouble trying to put a flavor memory on everything. Trying spices, chocolate, ice cream, candies. I actually put myself in the hospital when I tried to drink bleach at 5 years old. I am always in research of new flavors.
Where are some local restaurants you’ve enjoyed while living in Buffalo?
Camille: Las Puertas from Chef Victor Parra Gonzalez, Squeeze Juicery in Williamsville, Panorama on Seven at the Canalside Mariott for the view, Flying Bison brewery, La Divina Mexican Store on Delaware ave, Paula’s Donut and Seabar.