By Gabriel Rom
Asian-European fusion is the name of the game at Violet’s Bake Shoppe, a new bakery that opened three weeks ago along bustling Austin St. in Forest Hills.
The owner, Chris Tang, 37, is a classically trained pastry chef who studied at the International Culinary Center, formerly known as the French Culinary Institute, and is combining traditional Asian flavors with high-end French baking.
Violet’s faces steep competition from neighboring La Boulangerie, La Dolce Italia and Aigner Chocolates which reopened this summer.
Nevertheless, Tang is confident that he can provide an array of unusual flavors that will earn him a loyal following in sweets-saturated Forest Hills.
“We’re trying to mix different culinary cultures to provide a unique experience,” he said.
Tang says he consulted a Chinese pastry chef for advice on the menu and bakery concept. The chef, he said, has developed a strong following in China.
The menu offers European classics like German cheesecake, various puddings and a Black Forest chocolate cake that Tang perfected while at culinary school.
“I have a passion for baking,” he said.
And while Tang is versed in the European fundamentals, he also has a penchant for experimentation that yields some unlikely combinations.
Also on the menu are plenty of Asian-inspired items, including Hong Kong-style egg tarts as well as curry beef buns, curry chicken buns and a fish filet sandwich. Buns cost between $1.50 and $3 each.
The fish sandwich, Tang says, has already proven to be a customer-favorite.
“It’s an opportunity to marry two distinct cultures,” he said. “Our customers range from Russian to Asian to European. It’s really diverse.”
The bakery is Tang’s first business since he graduated from culinary school, but the challenge, he said, is part of the fun.
“Even if I’m the only employee in the store on some days, it’s nothing I can’t handle,” he said. “There’s a learning curve for sure, but it is enjoyable and I love talking to customers. Right now I’m thinking in the short term: Get established here in Forest Hills. In the long term who knows?”
Violet’s Bake Shoppe, which is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m, is located at 72-36 Austin St.
Reach reporter Gabriel Rom by e-mail at [email protected]