THE EASTER BUNNY has a special treat for the children of Newington Green. Chocolates made by a French pâtissier will be scattered on the common for lucky toddlers, intrepid weenyboppers and acquisitive teenagers to gather up and gulp down.
A Loving Dalston investigation can reveal Belle Epoque, the Parisian-style pâtisserie, chocolatier and bakery that overlooks the green, as the centre of the operation. Eric Rousseau, in charge of all the goodies that whisper temptation from the café’s display shelves, has been photographed doing a dry run, shouting “Chocolates, chocolates!” to children frolicking on the green in the spring sunshine.
Even this site’s hardened reporter found his heart melting as fast as chocolate in the noonday sun as needy infants scooped up the delicately constructed Easter eggs. “More,” shouted the thin, clearly underfed little uns, “more!”
Rousseau admitted that he will give advance notice to teachers at nearby Grasmere Primary Schoolin Albion Road N16 9PD when he hides his high-quality eggs in special spots around the green for Easter.
He told Loving Dalston that he founded Belle Epoque ten years ago. It had grown so well that he and his wife Hulya now employ 20 full-time staff, including apprentices.
“There is a huge demand for pastrycooks in England,” he said. “The apprenticeship system is not providing enough pâtissiers.”
“In France, my apprentices would be 100% subsidised by the State; here I pay their Westminster Kingsway College course fees, on top of their salaries.”
The business is still expanding: Belle Epoque supplies Selfridges in Oxford Street and will soon be delivering to the prestige store’s Birmingham and Manchester branches.
You can buy a tarte for £1.25 and the price range goes up to a grand production for £25. Just don’t mention “cupcake”. To a pâtissier who started training in Paris at the age of 14, that’s for amateurs.