Just when I thought Choc-O-Pain couldn’t get any more fabulous, it launches a series of hands-on baking classes featuring pastry chef Simon Herfray. I’ve written about Choc-O-Pain before. It’s the brainchild of French-born Clémence Danko, a serial entrepreneur who now owns four locations: the original Hoboken store, two Jersey City locations, and a soon-to-open uptown Hoboken store.
Get to Know Simon Herfray
Simon Herfray is the owner and head pastry chef of French’Encas. Born in France, Herfray began his education and immersion in the art of pastry making in the Vendée region of France, where he attended a local vocational pastry school. After five years of training and experience he graduated with a masters in pastry and bakery.
Chef Simon has worked in some of the top bakeries in France, London, Brisbane and New York City. In January 2014, he launched French’Encas (translation: a small snack), a culinary company focused on catering and teaching the fine art of French cooking through classes and workshops. He’s excited to share his talents and expertise in French pastry and dessert making with the greater New York City community through his classes and menu for weddings as well as private and corporate events.
Pastry Classes: The Details
A few weeks back, I was invited to attend the inaugural macaron baking class at the Hoboken flagship location of Choc-O-Pain. I was apprehensive about making macarons, as I always envisioned the process to be very difficult and scientific. I’m happy to report, however, that Chef Herfray is a pro and made the whole experience enjoyable and straightforward. No more macaron intimidation for me!
Chef taught us how to make three different varieties: chocolate, citrus, and mango. Our group split up in teams and each tackled making one flavor of macarons. Fortunately for this chocolate lover, my team baked chocolate macarons.
Each step, from measuring sugar and almond flour to whipping up an Italian meringue, to properly folding the meringue into the flour mixture, was patiently taught. Many tips were shared that made the process simple and enjoyable. To our delight, we each got to pipe the three macaron flavors onto our own baking sheets, so we took home 10 of each flavor.
Upcoming classes will focus on macarons, artisan breads, and traditional croissants. I’m really hoping I can attend the bread and croissant classes, as I got so much out of the macarons class. This could be a fun concept for a girls’ afternoon out or for foodie couples. Several people in our class had no baking experience, so don’t think of these classes as only being appropriate for advanced bakers. Choc-O-Pain’s hands-on baking classes are everyone-friendly, and a great experience for all.
157 First Street
(full list of locations on website)