By KATHLEEN STEWARD
Before moving to St. Augustine, Chef Philippe Cahagne was a police officer in the French national police force. Although he followed in his father’s footsteps, he wanted a change in life and followed his dream to become a pastry chef.
Cahagne left France and joined his brother who owned a bakery in Winter Park, Florida. Later when Cahagne was established, his wife Stephanie and their children joined him in Florida.
After a visit to St. Augustine, the Cahagnes fell in love with its European flavor and moved here to start Les Petits Pleasures, with Stephanie as co-owner and executive chef.
Les Petits Pleasures is lovely and light inside. The bakery serves traditional French pastries such as eclairs and tarts. They offer breakfast and lunch, both American and French, with what Cahagne calls a blend of flavors from both countries. Crepes and quiches figure largely on the menu and catering is available. The addition of beer and wine is expected soon.
The bakery and cafe was originally started eight years ago on San Marco Avenue. It has been at the new A1A location for about a year. The bakery seats 40 people inside and outside and is dog friendly.
Q&A WITH OWNER AND CHEF PHILIPPE CAHAGNE
How would you describe the restaurant’s atmosphere?
The atmosphere is casual. The restaurant is a bit like a French export. My customers are like my friends, and I treat them like I would a guest at home. Over time, I’ve added recycled wooden pallets to wall spaces. I like old stuff to make it more European.
What is your food philosophy?
I like simple. I don’t like too much salt or sugar. We love food in France. It is a national pastime, like football in America. And when you love something, you want to share it. I like to encourage my customers to try new flavors like bechamel, a basic French sauce made with flour, butter and milk.
What types of cuisine do you specialize in?
Bistro food, like crepes, quiches and croques. Croque means to “bite” or “munch” in French and is like an American sandwich. A quiche is simple and rich and makes a good meal. We have 15 types of sweet and savory crepes on the menu. Our traditional French pastries are a treat.
What is your signature dish?
Our sweet and savory crepes. I make them with a buckwheat flour mix. We chose the ingredients from the different regions in France. The ocean crepe has smoked salmon to represent Bretagne, a coastal region in the northwest of France. One of our sweet crepes is the Normandie with sauteed apples, brown sugar and sliced almonds. Normandie is in the North.
What would you recommend for a first timer?
A savory crepe. It is big with different ingredients. The breakfast crepe has egg, sausage, bacon, tomato, onion and swiss.