Chantal Guillon chuckles that Americans feel it’s a required rite of baking passage to try to make their own macarons at home, while the French scoff at the idea and would just as soon buy them from a specialty patisserie.
It would be like trying to bake your own baguettes at home, she says. Why?
When she moved to the Bay Area in 2008, the cupcake craze was in full throttle. But most folks were still unfamiliar with the dainty French sandwich pastry known as a macaron and often confused them with American macaroon cookies made with shredded coconut.
Guillon, a former restaurateur in France and art importer, decided it was high-time Northern Californians got to know real macarons.
So, in 2009, she opened her namesake Chantal Guillon macaron and tea shop on Hayes Street. It proved so successful that this summer she opened her second shop on University Avenue in Palo Alto.
Recently, I met up with her at her brightly lit Palo Alto storefront. Inside, there are long glass cases of macarons of every hue and a whimsical wall art of women’s purses, each with a box of macarons sticking out of them — just like you’d see women doing in France, she says.