If you live in Toronto, you can’t hear about a macaron without immediately thinking about NADÈGE Patisserie. The Queen West staple has quickly grown to now include four locations all over the city, and it’s all due to the popularity of the exquisite creations by owner and Chef, Nadège Nourian and her team. As we head into a particularly sweet-filled time of year, we couldn’t think of anyone better to chat with than Chef Nadège about the delectable business she’s built.
Business Name: NADÈGE Patisserie
Name & Title: Nadège Nourian, Chef and Owner
Location: NADÈGE Patisserie has four retail locations in Toronto: Queen West (780 Queen Street West), Yorkdale Mall (3401 Dufferin St.), Rosedale (1099 Yonge St.), PATH Richmond-Adelaide Centre. In addition to a prep kitchen space in Etobicoke.
Edit Seven: Tell us about your business, what do you do?
Nadège Nourian: We are a boutique bakery and retailer that combines the art of French pastries with a fresh, modern approach. We have four locations across Toronto where you can find our award-winning desserts, macarons, chocolates, ice cream and pastries.
E7: How did you start your business? What inspired you to start?
NN: I come from a family of French pastry chefs (I am a fourth generation pastry chef). After working in France and England, I moved to Toronto and fulfilled my dream of opening my own store. The Queen street location was established in 2009 and has delighted Torontonians with modern dessert creations. We have received numerous accolades from critics, media, and the blogosphere. We are a trend-setter in Toronto’s pastry scene.
E7: Why do you love what you do?
NN: I love creating new desserts knowing that people will enjoy not only eating them but looking at them as well. People love eating pastries, and I like making people happy.
E7: What makes your business special?
NN: At NADÈGE we use high-quality ingredients to create desserts which are intricate and fancy, but can be enjoyed by everyone. We do our best to be welcoming and approachable in everything we do, from our desserts to the experience in store.
E7: What have been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned from running your business?
NN: Running your own business is a lot of hard work with a lot of ups and downs. You must deal with every problem from the small day-to-day aspects to larger business concerns. However, at the end of the day what matters most is keeping customers happy, when I hear our customers enjoying their experience in our stores, it is all worth it.
E7: Your business has expanded with multiple locations over the past few years, tell us about what that process has been like?
NN: We have been lucky that good opportunities came knocking on our doors. Each time we assessed the project in terms of potential and feasibility.
E7: What advice would you give to another entrepreneur who is interested in expanding their business and opening more locations?
NN: Toronto has varied neighbourhoods, and you can appeal to a wide range of people. Make sure wherever you open a location, you will have enough foot traffic and regular visitors to satisfy your brands critical mass and sustain the business long term.
E7: What is your #1 piece of advice to keep in mind when starting your own business?
NN: You need to work hard and stop when you don’t love what you do anymore.
E7: Is there anything you wish you’d known before starting your business?
NN: I knew it would be hard but it is difficult to imagine how hard until you live through it.
E7: What is a challenge you’d tell future entrepreneurs in the food industry to prepare for?
NN: There are many challenges in this industry including, the high cost of food in Canada, the high turnover rate, and how frequently food trends are changing and shaping the landscape. You need to be at the top of your game all the time.
E7: What’s the biggest lesson you learned from running your business so far?
NN: When I started my own business, I was excited to be my own boss, so I could be the decision maker and have control over everything. However, I quickly realized there are still a lot of elements which are beyond my control even though it is my own business.
I also had to adjust to the pace of the business; even if you are growing fast, it takes a while to get to where you want to be. You always need to think long term.
E7: What advice would you give to another entrepreneur who is interested in opening their own café and/or bakery?
NN: Be ready to work hard!
E7: How do you stay organized, balanced and motivated?
NN: I am still working on that! I am lucky that my family is very supportive, and I surround myself with people I trust.
E7: Who are some of your mentors/role models?
NN: I admire Anne-Sophie Pic and what she has been able to create. I also learned a lot from Alan Yau who I worked with in London, he is a genius when it comes to concept creations.
E7: Do you have a daily or regular ritual you practice that you love?
NN: I start my day by visiting our stores. This helps me stay grounded, and close to our customers.
E7: Where do you go or what do you do to look for inspiration?
NN: I take my inspiration from things and events happening in Toronto and around the world. At NADÈGE we have taken inspiration from different festivals in Toronto, like TIFF for which we made specially printed macarons, to the beautiful scenery in the city like the cherry blossoms in High Park which inspired our Pink Blossom cake.
E7: What can people expect with the visit Nadège?
NN: People can expect a friendly welcome, great service, delicious desserts and a beautiful presentation.
E7: Who is the Nadège client and what would you tell them to try when they visit a location for the first time?
NN: Our clientele is very varied, from our loyal customers who come for a morning coffee and croissant every day to someone looking to buy macarons as a gift for family or visit us for ice cream, to busy people picking up catering for a party. I would tell them to try anything they feel they might like! You never know what you might discover.
For more info on Nadège Patisserie, click HERE!
(Story by Editor-in-Chief, Gracie Carroll)