Oakland, CA – Jack London’s waterfront will soon be filled with the tantalizing aroma of the Bay Area’s finest bakery confections. Meg Ray, founder of the wildly popular Miette Patisserie, today announced the forthcoming arrival of a new location in Jack London Square. Housed in the newly renovated historic 66 Franklin Street building, the new location will be home to not only a retail store, but the shop’s production facility and a first-class baking school with courses offered to home-chefs and professionals alike. The new space will be located directly across from the soon-to-be complete Jack London Market, the largest public market of its kind on the West Coast. Both the bakery and the Market are scheduled to open in Spring 2009.
“I live in Oakland and love the city. I was drawn by the opportunity to contribute to the quality of life here in the East Bay,” said Ray.
“Having a kitchen, school, and store all in one location will create a marvelous opportunity for me to grow and explore, contributing to the culinary renaissance taking place in the city.”
Ray instantly made a name for herself with Miette’s elegant, stylish offerings when she first set up shop in 2001. She began with little more than a pink tent and a collection of vintage cake stands at the Berkeley farmers’ market. Miette’s hand-crafted cakes and pastries claim influences that range from the precise world of French baking and the pastry shop windows of Vienna, to illustrations in children’s story books. The Patisserie’s offerings have earned regional and international acclaim. Since its humble beginnings, Miette has since expanded to encompass a boutique in the San Francisco Ferry Building and an authentic confiserie in Hayes Valley.
Miette devotees will be delighted to find the same loving touch and attention to detail in the new bakery’s fare. The Oakland location will however feature some new tastes and offerings. Ray intends to complement her interpretation of the classic pastry repertoire with a line of American-style pies and cobblers.
“My husband doesn’t care for cake. He’s been begging me to make a pie for years,” said Ray. “Being so close to the Jack London Market, we’ll be able to incorporate the finest and freshest seasonal fruits into everything we do.”
Oakland’s waterfront has long been a destination for both sailing ships from around the world and produce trucks from throughout the state. Ray will uphold this tradition of gathering diverse tastes and ideas as she continues to travel the world seeking inspiration from the kitchens of Europe and beyond. On a recent trip to Brittany for example, Ray was captivated by the liberal use of butter and fleur de sel in their provincial fare, such as caramels and Kouign-Aman – a traditional Breton pastry. Ray has made these confections her own and they will soon be found in the new store.
The heart of the new location will be the state-of-the-art kitchen featuring grand 17-foot ceilings. Enormous plate-glass windows will afford visitors a behind-the-scenes view of craftspeople at work. The bakery will play host to daily operations as well as a new baking school. During the day, professional students will participate in the regular production of goods for retail sale. The course will focus on cake and pastry production, with instrucion in both American and European techniques. A course on bread will be added in the coming years.
During the afternoons and evenings, the bakery will open its doors to non-professionals, with courses for both children and adults. Classes on such delectable topic as baking, decorating, marzipan rose modeling, petit fours, chocolate work, and candy making will be taught be acclaimed pastry chefs from New York, Paris, and Vienna. A “Baking Vacation” course will accommodate out-of-town students. That course will be taught by professionals from favorite local restaurants and bakeries such as Allison Barakat of Bake Sale Betty’s.
“It’s so fulfilling to be surrounded by people who are genuinely enthusiastic about baking. After teaching for several years as a guest instructor at Mary Risley’s Tante Marie Cooking School, I felt a desire to embark on an educational career of my own,” said Ray. “The more I teach, the more I understand about baking, and that deepens my appreciation of the art.” With a bevy of new tastes and restaurants, Oakland is establishing itself as a bona fide culinary force and Jack London Square is poised to become the East Bay’s newest center of gravity for this emerging trend.
“Jack London Square is a great location for this new venture, ” said Ray. “I was drawn to the waterfront, the ample parking, and the bustle of this re-emerging dining district. When I was presented with a chance to locate across from the new Jack London Market, it was an opportunity I couldn’t refuse. With farmers bringing fresh fruit and produce ot our doorstep on a daily basis, we will be able to incorporate the best of what California has to offer into our menu.”
Jack London Square is currently undergoing a three hundred million dollar redevelopment that includes restaurants, entertainment, new parking facilities, and waterfront office space. The centerpiece of the project will be the Jack London Market containing 72,000 square feet of public market as well as 100,000 square feet of water-view office space. The market will be the largest of its kind on the West Coast, housing small businesses selling fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, fish, cheeses and specialty products with an emphasis on local and sustainable practices.
“We are honored to have Meg as part of our starting team at the new Jack London Square. She embodies the type of businesses we are assembling in this district: local, unique, the best at what they do, and focused on food sustainability principles, ” said Jim Ellis, Managing Principal of Ellis Partners LLC, the developers of Jack London Square. “She will be joined by many peers in the culinary scene in the coming months.”