Best Macaron: Jean-Marc Chatellier's French Bakery | Pittsburgh City Paper

Best Macaron: Jean-Marc Chatellier's French Bakery

click to enlarge Best Macaron: Jean-Marc Chatellier's French Bakery
CP Photo: Jared Wickerham
Jean-Marc Chatellier of Jean-Marc Chatellier's French Bakery
Jean-Marc Chatellier basically pioneered macarons in the Pittsburgh area, so it’s only fitting that his Millvale bakery be awarded Best Macaron by Pittsburgh City Paper readers.

“I was pretty surprised, I’ve never won anything,” said Chatellier, who has been running his bakery for more than 30 years and baking macarons for nearly a decade. “It is good news.”

Macarons (not macaroons or the French President Emanual Macron, Chatellier reminds readers) are small French sandwich cookies made from almond flour, and packed with fillings like ganache or jam. Many bakeries in Pittsburgh sell them now, but Jean-Marc Chatellier's French Bakery was the first to do so in Pittsburgh.

Chatellier first learned about macarons on a trip home to France. He noticed their growing popularity there and spoke to his old boss about them. Then, nine years ago, he started to bake them out of his small shop. This was well before they had become popular in Pittsburgh. He says he took time to perfect the recipe and techniques.

“The U.S. is a good country to make macarons because the best almonds are from California,” he says. “You need to know exactly how to whip the egg whites and to mix them almost perfectly. [The macarons] cannot be cracked, they have to be nice and smooth, like an eggshell. The oven is key. Sometimes you have to open the door to take out some humidity.”

Chatellier offers 18 different flavors of macarons, including orange, lemon, mango, lavender, rose-raspberry, and pistachio. Chatellier is particularly proud of his salted caramel macaron. He travels home to the Brittany region of France to obtain Brittany salt, which he says is the best in the world.

He is also proud of the unpretentious nature of his macarons. He rejects the notion that the delicate cookies need elaborate boxes to serve. Chatellier says his cheaper boxes allow him to focus on the quality of the cookie and lower the price for his customers.

“Someone once said that ‘you don’t have good quality boxes,’ and I responded, ‘well, do you eat the box?’” says Chatellier.

Jean-Marc Chatellier's French Bakery. 213 North Ave., Millvale.