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From Roy’s — Or The Story of the $50 Panettone

From Roy’s dark chocolate panettone — fit for a king or queen. (Photo by Carolyn Jung)


When I told my husband, who is notoriously frugal (he’d call himself, “cheap”), that I was writing a story about a pastry chef who makes a $50 panettone, he was beside himself.

He rolled his eyes, completely flabbergasted. Who in their right minds, he thought, would pay that much for an Italian Christmas bread that you can get for a song on the shelves at Cost Plus?

Then, I cut him a thick slab of the handmade dark chocolate panettone made by From Roy’s of Richmond. He put a forkful in his mouth. He let out a sigh. Then, he actually said, “OK, I can see paying $50 for this.”

One bite is all it takes to be a believer, when it comes to the panettone made by Roy Shvartzapel, a classically trained pastry chef who has worked at El Bulli in Spain, Pierre Herme in France, and Bouchon Bakery in Beverly Hills.

Last December, he started his mail-order panettone bakery, selling 500 in just 10 days. This Christmas? He expects to sell 5,000 of them.

The nifty box it comes in. (Photo by Carolyn Jung)

It stand 8 inches tall. (Photo by Carolyn Jung)

That’s how much the world has fallen for his unabashedly buttery, feathery light panettones that he now sells year-round in a variety of inventive flavors.

Find out how he became obsessed with panettone and how his business has grown by leaps and bounds, in my story in this past Sunday’s San Francisco Chronicle Food + Home section.

Also, here’s a short video I shot at his baking facility, showing the unique way he cools the panettones.

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The best panettone you'll ever eat — and the man obsessed with making it. My story @sfgate this Sunday. @thisisfromroy http://tinyurl.com/zne64qx #panettone #bakinggod #italianbread #bestthingyoueverate

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P.S. Just an update: As of 2019, the panettones are now $60 each. Yes, you read that right.