Oh Faon! The expression, typically from Marseille, is a sign of astonishment and surprise. The eponymous place is certainly surprising. It is the very first 100% plant-based pastry shop in Marseille, which offers, in addition, original creations, fruits from an eco-responsible approach. The pastry shop contributes, with brilliance, to the dynamism of French artisanship.
The fawn (Faon in French) is a discrete animal we like to observe and is often a source of amazement when we cross its path. Jérôme Raffaelli and Kévin Yau founded this gourmet mecca. The artisanal and plant-based pastry shop does not use any animal products to make its gourmet, healthy and ethical desserts. The tarts, cakes and cookies are exceptional. In love with fine French pastry and having a fine palate, Jérôme Raffaelli is constantly looking for new flavours and textures. Meet him.
Located in the heart of the city of Marseille, Oh Faon! Pastry shop is the result of a professional reorientation. Before making his delicacies, Jérôme Raffaelli was an assistant film director in cinema. “I worked with Luc Besson and Jean-Paul Rappenau, on exciting films. Then, I needed to change surroundings”, he confides to us. After being vegetarian for about ten years, he became vegan. His family environment, anchored in the world of artisanship and food, favoured his natural attraction towards this new discipline. In addition, the desire to cook for others was born.
Right away, the desire to make plant-based dishes was obvious. “We wanted to propose a relevant offer, especially because five years ago, there were very few plant-based cakes in France, except for a few American cookies. There was no French pastry shop that offered vegetarian cuisine”, explains the young pastry chef. This was a completely new playground for the two entrepreneurs to explore. Jérôme decided to get a degree in pastry. “I quickly started to practice plant-based recipes in my school or in the company where I worked”, says the leader of Oh Faon!
With his partner, an HEC graduate and digital marketing consultant, Jérôme Raffaelli patiently built his project. These young entrepreneurs initially sold their pastries on a BtoB basis, through their networks, because demand was high. “Then we went to meet restaurant owners in Marseille, who quickly asked us to supply them with pastries during events or trade shows. As weeks went by, we quickly felt like creating our own workshop.” The business started in November 2017.
The pastry show in Marseille was a real turning point. “We found ourselves with people from the traditional pastry industry but were not using the same ingredients as them.” It was a challenge but the perfect opportunity to take the pulse of the trend launched by the Marseilles duo. The day before the opening of the show, the regional daily newspaper La Provence gave them a full-page feature. The buzz was born… Success was around the corner.
A few weeks after the show, Oh faon! was already ranked among the ten best pastry shops in Marseille, though the store was not yet open. The shop officially opened its doors to the public in August 2018.
Plant-based dressed for success
The association Gourméditerranée, which promotes the sunny and mixed identity of Mediterranean cuisine in the PACA region, around Gérald Passedat, a three-star chef from Marseille, asked the two men to join the association. A golden opportunity for the company. “We work with the same values: locality and seasonality. The association has contributed to the growth of the store, which has clearly positioned itself among the fine and high-end French pastry shops. “The term vegan is far too restrictive. I want to work with plants in their greatest diversity. It is a sensory universe that perfectly fits us”, says Jérôme Raffaelli. The flour and sugar (wholemeal) are exclusively organic, the chocolate is made in France and the creams are made from plants. “We bake only with seasonal fruits from the region. The suppliers are located within a maximum radius of 25 kilometres,” says the artisan. The aficionados discover a card, which changes regularly, according to the seasons. Exit the raw materials of animal origin. There is no butter, eggs or milk in the products offered. The delights are healthy, tasty and gourmand. The lemon pie is naturally lemony. The flavours and textures are original.
Customers praise the subtlety, the finesse and the delicate meeting of flavours. A local taste treasure, and a very light hand in sugar. The pear and Earl Grey tea entremet is displayed with elegance and subtlety in the store, to the delight of fans.
Cakes for everyone
Financial gain was not the priority. “We wanted the adventure and the satisfaction of making everything in-house,” he continues. The bet was successful. The plant-based and ethical pastry shop displays a meaningful approach. The cakes are made for everyone. “30% of our clients have a food ethic, or allergies and health constraints. The rest of the clientele is not vegetarian. They come to taste the cakes of Oh Faon! while consuming rib steaks at the same time. The idea is to have everyone benefit.
A declared environmental commitment
The vegetarian approach came naturally to the pastry chef. “One day, I was unable to eat meat or fish. The break was physical. It was as if I had to eat a piece of plastic. Immediately, I did not think about animal welfare. It was only later that I became aware of the benefits for animals and the planet,” says Jérôme Raffaelli. Moreover, he continues: “This commitment is actually within my reach three times a day.”
Today, the number of pastry shops in France that offer the same type of work is limited to the fingers of one hand. The approach was embraced by the public, so much so, that the place should soon expand and offer a tasting area on site.
The recipes of these succulent pastries will soon be published in a book entitled: “100 meilleurs pâtisseries de France”, published by Ducasse. Beware to the great chefs who have not yet tamed the plant…