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Steeve Raye Pastry
UPDATE: Now with a short Q&A with Steeve Raye! Read after the jump.

If there's any pressure in following a family legacy, Steeve Raye isn't showing it.  Raye's parents are local institutions, having run La Regalade, the West Vancouver bistro, for what seems like an eternity, where Raye has also served as pastry chef and for which he had also opened the short-lived offshoot, La Regalade Cote Mer.  Instead, Raye seems downright cheerful, despite the fact that I've shown up before 8:30 on the first Saturday morning since their opening.  The man is brimming, and - on our second visit the following afternoon - seemingly everywhere: making pastries with his colleagues in the back, running up to the till to take our order, bringing our croissants (and brioches... and apple tarts...) to our table.  Anxiety doesn't seem to fit into the equation anywhere.

When one enters La Regalade, attention is drawn immediately to the array of pastries and desserts that face the door.  This visual deathgrip also finds a home at Steeve Raye Pastry, with the entire display case filled with all manner of wonder, both savoury and sweet: breads, brioches, cakes, tartes, macarons... it takes a concerted effort to look away.  If pastries are indeed your thing - and if you've read this far, they surely must be - the impact is much like what I assume Charlie must have felt upon entering Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory, albeit one that is much more indebted to the French and a heavier dose of starch and carbohydrates.

Here's a short little Q&A we had with Raye:

Your family has had great success with La Regalade in West Vancouver. What has it been like to grow up in a family of restauranteurs, and how does that impact on what you will do with Steeve Raye Pastry?

As you know I have been raised in a family of restaurateurs. My childhood was like heaven! I always had the best of everything to eat. My dad always took us to wonderful restaurants. I am always looking towards the best ingredients and taste possible.

What would you say is your greatest similarity with your parents in how you work, and what is your greatest difference?

As much as it was wonderful to be raised in a family of restaurateurs, I have seen a lot of horrible things happening. I have seen my dad getting madly insane !! I never want to be like that...I want to work in a peaceful way.

How was your experience with Joel Robuchon?

Working at Joel Robuchon was really great. I have learnt that great achievement can be accomplished when great people are involved in a great project.

What makes your croissant - or any croissant in general - so good?

I don't know what make a great croissant but I know when a croissant tastes great.  I know it needs a lot of care and patience. A croissant is made of yeast, which means it is a living organism.

There are rules and directions to strictly follow if you want great results.  Of course a good croissant requires butter, and only good butter. It is best to use what is called 'beurre sec' (butter with a high fat content, more than 80%).

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Alas, the croissant ($1.95):

  • Butteriness: 4.5 out of 5.  Pierre Herme has said that one should taste butter, first and foremost, with a subtle taste of salt as a "crowning point," and it's all here in Raye's croissant.  We would have given him a perfect 5, but if Raye's croissant is a hymn to the butter gods, the Thomas Haas croissant is a full-blown aria.
  • Flakiness: 5 out of 5.  Of the two (maybe three, four, five) croissants we had, one was so flaky and full of air that, once the croissant was split open, you could actually see through its layers and through the other side.  Another stayed crisp and crackly even after sitting in a paper bag for a couple hours.  Each was delightful enough to want to unravel the thing, layer by layer, just to savour it for longer. 
  • Lightness: 5 out of 5.  It's emotionally traumatic to yearn for something while you're still enjoying it.  The Steeve Raye croissant is light enough that eating a dozen seems plausible for that brief minute until a sense of logic sets back in.  But who said emotional attachments had to be rationalized? 

Joe.

Steeve Raye Pastry
2836 West 4th Avenue
Vancouver, BC
(778) 789 4455

Steeve Raye Pastry on Urbanspoon

4 comments

nicole said... @ November 3, 2010 at 11:57 PM

Wow, this just sounds ridiculously delightful. Damn you Joe. Croissant cravings at midnight are hazardous to my health.

Betty said... @ November 5, 2010 at 10:34 AM

This croissant is a stunner. As are the brioches and tarts. Great coffee too. Makes me wish I still lived in Kits.

FABRIZIO said... @ November 6, 2010 at 10:15 AM

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Anonymous said... @ February 4, 2011 at 12:11 PM

Great croissant. For comparison's sake, I followed up a Steeve Raye croissant with one from Boulevard Cafe (UBC) a half hour later. After the goodness of the Steeve Raye I could hardly deal with the Boulevard catastrophe. I think Viva Fine Foods does a quality croissant, but more tasting is required.

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