Word is out: Northern Morris County is a garden of eatin.’ It boasts Morristown’s splendid restaurants, the pan-Asian hub that is Parsippany, and acclaim from NJM readers every year in the annual Jersey Choice Restaurant Poll.
How about a French bakery?
Now there is one, in Denville, that seems beamed from Paree. Its croissants are buttery bliss, macarons miraculous, chocolate chip cookies catnip. The bravura bakery is Chocolatine, run by French baker Cédric Hosy and his Rockaway-raised wife, Elaine Castro, who has a sales background. (See our picks for the tastiest Chocolatine goodies below the Q&A.)
How did Denville get this lucky?
Cédric: Merci. After years of baking and bartending for other people, it was time to have my own business. Our retail bakery opened in March. But we’ve been here since 2020, baking croissants to sell wholesale to restaurants, hotels and markets.
Elaine: Before the pandemic, we were working in [New York City] and didn’t see enough of each other. I had a day job in IT sales, and Cédric was tending bar at night. Then Covid came. The bars were closed, and I couldn’t meet with clients in person. It was a good time to move out of the city and open here.
Cédric: People gave up a lot during Covid. But I’m French, and I just knew croissants would succeed.
How’s it worked out?
Cédric: Chocolatine is doing well. And Elaine and I working together now is great. Being business partners has brought us closer. I’m the baker in the back, and she’s the boss in the front.
Elaine: I’m the customer-facing one. I love selling our products because they’re honestly delicious and totally French. And since we keep bakery hours, closing at 3 or 4, I’m able to do some IT sales consulting again.
Cédric: Chocolatine is 100 percent authentically French—no different from a neighborhood bakery in any French city.
Elaine: We don’t cut corners. We use the best ingredients.
Cédric: Valrhona French chocolate and butter from Normandy.
Elaine: Our customers are thrilled to have a real, committed French bakery here in Denville. A lot of customers come in every day.
Cédric: Like in France.
Elaine: They take their time looking at everything we have that day before they choose. It’s all fresh, so pretty and wonderful to bite into, whether it’s a sweet treat or a savory tart or quiche.
Why did you open a bakery and not, say, a French café?
Cédric: I have loved croissants since I was a kid. And baking was the first thing I did in the kitchen, in a pastry-making internship in high school. [Laughs.] That’s very French! After that, I had six years of culinary education. I have a degree from a great hospitality school, Lycée et CFA François Rabelais. It’s in the town of Dardilly just outside Lyon. That’s the culinary capital of France. I also have a diploma in hospitality management.
What else have you done in culinary?
Cédric: All kinds of jobs. Cooking in restaurants, doing sales of French specialty foods, tending bar—a lot of that—and the baking. When I moved to New York in 2007 I bartended, because I had been doing that in Paris, Geneva and also Miami.
You pivoted from mixology to pastry. Are the skills similar?
Cédric: It was a natural move for me. Bartending and baking are both very creative if you’re good. And I have a lot of creative energy. But to make nice cocktails and good pastry, you also have to be very precise.
What’s next for Chocolatine?
Cédric: We hope to keep loving what we do. And to expand and open more shops.
Elaine: And maybe bring some adventurous, multicultural flavors to our pastries. Like ube from my native country of the Philippines. It’s a purple sweet potato but tastes like dessert.
Cédric: A great croissant could handle it.
Some highlights of the Chocolatine menu:
Les croissants: Buttery rapture, whether classic plain, or with almonds, raspberries, Nutella, chocolate (le Chocolatine) and more.
Le cruffin: Part croissant, part muffin; completely captivating.
Le baguette: The crunchy-crusted French icon, fresh from the oven.
La brioche: A spherical, egg-enhanced bread, meant to be torn apart and devoured.
Les macarons: They’re splendide: crispy on the outside, luscious on the inside, not overly sweet; in distinctive flavors like rose lychee, Earl Grey, lemon yuzu and strawberry verbena.
Le chocolate chip cookie: Seekers of chocolate-chip enlightenment, this is it.
Le pistache: Pistachio, a favorite topping here, piled on a croissant or financier (mini loaf cake).
Les classiques: French pastries like the indulgent chocolate dome; Bordeaux’s caramelly canelés; Proustian madeleine cookies; the delectable, sugar-dusted Gaufres de Liège (Belgian waffles).
Le croque-monsieur: France’s favorite quick lunch. A sandwich of Cédric’s artisanal white bread with jambon de Paris (ham), Emmental Swiss cheese and rich béchamel sauce.
Chocolatine, 23 East Main Street, Denville; 973-437-2839
Click here to leave a comment