A newer Dame, having joined last year (sponsored by Dames Melissa Graham and Portia Belloc Lowndes), Sandra Holl, the founder of the popular Floriole Cafe and Bakery in Lincoln Park, has contributed to Bon Appetit magazine, and she has been featured on StarChefs.com. She was also named Pastry Chef of the Year at the 2015 Jean Banchet awards, and most recently participated in a panel about the business of foodservice. We caught up with Sandra to learn more about her background and involvement in Les Dames D’Escoffier.
Why did you decide to join Les Dames D’Escoffier?
It is a warm and welcoming group of women in the food industry. They do great philanthropic work, and offer wonderful networking and learning opportunities.
What made you want to get into baking professionally?
I was living in San Francisco and many of the students and chefs I crossed paths with while volunteering at Project Open Hand recommended the California Culinary Academy. I actually went to school for culinary – not baking and pastry, but fell in love with baking shortly afterward.
What were your greatest lessons learned at Tartine?
Tartine was where I learned about baking and pastry. I learned to move fast, the importance of technique and using great ingredients, and seasonality.
When did you come to Chicago and why?
We left San Francisco in 2005 with the intent of moving to France but we had to wait longer than expected for Mathieu to get his Green Card. While we waited for that, we spent a lot of time exploring Chicago and it really hit us that the market was wide open for a bakery. So we decided to stay and give it a shot.
What do you try to offer at Floriole? How would you describe your bakery compared to others?
Floriole is a cafe and bakery – so we have artisan breads and morning pastries, coffee, beer and wine, sandwiches, soups and dessert pastries. Our bakery is a little different from a lot of bakeries in Chicago because it is a place to come for a full meal or afternoon snack – you don’t just pick something up and take it home, although you could. Another thing that sets us apart is that our menu is market driven. You see that often in restaurants but not so much in bakeries. You won’t find a fresh fruit tart with strawberries in January at Floriole.
Do you have any goals for your membership in Les Dames?
I hope to find time to be more involved with Les Dames in the future. For now, I am happy to be part of the community and contribute in any way I can.