How Bisous Bisous Owner Andrea Meyer Finally Ditched IT to Follow Her Passion: Baking

Andrea Meyer from Bisou Bisou
Andrea Meyer from Bisou Bisou

Regular shoppers at White Rock Local Market will likely recognize Bisous Bisous Patisserie. Owner Andrea Meyer has been setting up a tiny shop of sorts amongst the tables of farm-fresh produce there since the start of the season. Meyer's table is often loaded with freshly baked French goods -- croissants and pain au chocolat -- and a tower of macarons that presides over it all.

It's a site to behold for any lover of baked goods, but there is one small problem. The best part of buying a croissant, or any other French pastry, is the aroma that hits you when you walk through a bakery door. At the farmers market those smells are whisked away on a breeze, if the smoke from Brian Luscher's hot dogs doesn't overwhelm them first. A sensory experience was missing.

It won't be missed for much longer. Meyer just announced she has a lease on a 1,200-square-foot space in the West Village, and she's moving in bakery equipment as we speak. By the third week of January she hopes to open up her patisserie amongst the new construction of the West Village.

Bakery opening is to be expected amongst accomplished bakers. What's weird is how she got here. Not so long ago, Meyer worked in something she coldly calls "project management for financially related IT products." She listened to software makers whine about legacy capabilities and the coming holidays, and she listened to software users bitch about critical requirements and cost. "Everything was always on fire," she said, of tasks with increasingly unreasonable deadlines. Meanwhile, she was dreaming of trips to Paris and longing for the feeling of satiny cake flour between her fingertips. She'd been baking since she was in college.

Meyer got her start turning out cookies inside a Williams Sonoma during the holidays and it quickly became a lifelong obsession. The precision required to pinpoint software bugs and estimate production time leant itself to the precision required for baking measurements, down to the gram. And since project management can be pretty stressful, and baking can be a pretty chill activity, she eventually decided to enroll in cooking school, spurred by a three-month business trip to France.

Meyer had taken a number of casual cooking classes in Paris, and her instructors always praised her work. One day she came home with some of her baked goods, beaming. "My husband said it was the happiest he'd ever seen me," she said. Meyer resolved to quit her job, and soon White Rock Local Market was blessed with little macarons and other pastries.

Meyer enjoys the small, outdoors gigs (you can catch her there this weekend), but she says she's always been working to open her own commercial bakery. And sometime in January her bakery exhaust fans will be perfuming the streets and alleys of West Village with the smell of coffee and croissants.

He space is not a café; you won't be able to grab a seat and work through the morning paper while dusting your lap with croissant crumbs. There will be a small standing bar, though, if you need something to lean on while you munch. And while you do, you'll be able to peer into the kitchen and watch Meyer's employees portion out millions of cookies with a tiny ice cream scoop. You'll see pastry dough being turned -- folded over itself again and again -- to make delicate layers in baked goods. You'll likely see Meyer, too.

She just has to get all of that kitchen equipment installed. Then she has to recalibrate all of her recipes for the new space, because the environment will likely be different. "I've thrown away thousands of macarons," she said. She still has to set up her coffee program with Nobel Coyote and she has to hire all of the employees she'll need to keep that bakery running.

And then there's some software to be procured. Right now, she might be weighing the pros and cons of a specific point of sale system, gritting her teeth as she questions the sales engineer. Cookies and coffee may resonate with her spirit, sure, but Meyer hasn't completely dropped her inner project engineer.

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