As a child in France who listened to American bands like the Eagles, which gained popularity with songs like “Hotel California,” Stephane Treand longed to live in the state someday.
Ten years ago, he got his chance, and since then he has done many things for the Orange County culinary scene.
The 50-year-old native of Brignoles, in southern France, owns two South Coast Collection — otherwise known as SoCo — businesses, ST Patisserie, which opened in November 2014, and ST Chocolat, which followed about a year later.
His first jobs in the U.S. were in the kitchens of the Four Seasons Hotel in Newport Beach and the St. Regis Hotel in Dana Point.
“I was doing a demonstration while visiting Las Vegas in 2004, and the Four Seasons approached me to be their pastry chef,” he said. “I figured, ‘Why not?’ I had always wanted to come to California, and this was my chance.”
But living and working in the Golden State wasn’t his only goal. He also wanted to open his own pastry shop and school, like the ones he had worked at in France since he was 16.
With ST Patisserie, which he originally opened in San Clemente in 2012, that dream came true.
The shop features a pastry bakery, with all products made on-site, as well as a pastry school, where Treand’s students can learn how to make different items and become a certified pastry chef.
A variety of courses are offered, from three-hour classes on Saturdays, which cost $100 each, to a full 12-week course, which enables students to become certified for a tuition of $10,000.
“I like teaching,” said Treand, one of four people in the U.S. with the prestigious title of Un des Meilleurs Ouvriers de France, also known as MOF, which is given to artists and chefs by the French labor ministry in a medal-awarding ceremony at the Sorbonne in Paris.
“I love doing the demonstrations. There’s value to these classes because I’m known in my field. So many hotels and restaurants call me because they are looking for people, and they know that my students are certified.”
ST Patisserie was relocated to SoCo upon the invitation of Bryon Ward, president of Burnham-Ward Properties, which owns the shopping center.
Ward said he learned about Treand and ST Patisserie through Nancy Milby, owner of LCA Wine and a friend of Treand’s.
“We wanted to create this community of craftsmen and artisans so they could all collaborate with one another,” Ward said. “Stephane holds a very prestigious title in the world of pastry making, to the point where he is only one of a handful of people who do claim this particular MOF designation. He is a culinary treasure.”
ST Chocolat, which is smaller than ST Patisserie, focuses on pre-packaged items like cookies and chocolates, which are convenient for gifts.
It also features sculptures made out of chocolate, like one inspired by “Star Wars,” shaped to look like Darth Vader’s head, and another in the shape of an owl.
“I have always loved the artistic part of working with pastries and chocolate,” Treand said. “We can build something that is also savory. In kitchens, they make nice dishes, but we can craft things with pastries and chocolates, like I did with the ‘Star Wars’ and owl statues.”
On Christmas Eve, the two businesses were flush with traffic. Chihiro Treand, Stephane’s wife, who runs the day-to-day operations at the shops, said they served about 100 customers each day during the holiday season. Typical weekend days during the rest of the year see 50 to 60 customers, and weekdays are much slower, she said.
Ludovic Barat, a native Parisian who moved to Costa Mesa from France in 2013, visited ST Patisserie on Christmas Eve to pick up cakes he had ordered.
“It’s great for me to have somewhere to speak French and someone to speak French with,” said Barat, who owns Pueblo, a Spanish tapas restaurant at SoCo. “It’s great for Orange County to have a good French patisserie. I don’t know of anything else similar to this. Even in France, fewer chefs are doing good things, so what is here is really special and such a great surprise to have Stephane here.”
ST Patisserie and ST Chocolat are both located at SoCo, 3303 Hyland Ave. in Costa Mesa.