Whether stopping for a cup of dark roast espresso on the way to work or a sugary pick-me-up on a Sunday morning, the new BAKES Saigon is where those in the know indulge their sweet tooth these days.
Located on Tran Cao Van street right by Saigon’s famous Turtle Lake, not only is BAKES serving-up homemade pastries for the everyday, that special day, and every day in between (Laure Chevallier, a co-founder of BAKES, swears by their green apple roll cake) but it has also caught the attention of instagrammers and creatives of all stripes thanks to the patisserie’s interior design.
Located on Tran Cao Van street right by Saigon’s famous Turtle Lake, not only is BAKES serving-up homemade pastries for the everyday, that special day, and every day in between. | Source: BAKES Saigon
We sat down with Laure to hear about the inner workings of the bakery, the shift from an online pastry service to the brick-and-mortar establishment and the story behind its design concept.
What is BAKES origin story?
I’ve always enjoyed pastries, maybe more because of the moments shared around them than the actual pastries itself. A few years ago, we started to bake for WORK Saigon, a coworking space, and Blank Bar at Bitexco Tower, more for fun than anything else. We got great feedback, so we decided to build a brand around it. I was lucky to meet Sara, our Head Pastry Chef, 2 years ago.
It’s very much teamwork. Long, Beverage Manager from The Lab Concepts (TLC), our hospitality group, spend a few months on the drinks, using all of the jam, curds and other ingredients from our kitchen.
We spend a good amount of time thinking about the pastries, their recipes and aesthetic but also the experience to build the Flagship.
Laure Chevallier —Co-founder of BAKES; Sara Wu—Head Pastry Chef of BAKES. | Source: Co Nguyen for Vietcetera
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How would you describe the design concept behind BAKES?
Growing up in France, my mother always said the kitchen was the most important room in the house, a space for the whole family to gather. We had a huge center island where I would do my homework or hang out after school. To pay homage to my childhood and my family, one of the main design concepts I had in mind for BAKES was for it to have a cozy, warm French-countryside-feeling, the same one I grew up with.
To pay homage to my childhood and my family, one of the main design concepts I had in mind for BAKES was for it to have a cozy, warm French-countryside-kitchen feeling. | Source: BAKES Saigon
The second inspiration came from Parisian parks, like the Jardin des Plantes, where my grandma used to take us, and the Turtle Lake with its raw materials and maze of paths. Our ceramic tiles are hand-crafted by women in the countryside using traditional techniques. The wall and display islands are carved for our space with using natural stones from Danang. Each tile and each slab are different, which is what I love about it.
We didn’t want the design to take the focus away from our pastries. So the interior complements our creations by not stealing the limelight. The space overall is very organic, not 100% perfect, but just like our pastries: handmade.
The space overall is very organic, not 100% perfect, but just like our pastries: handmade. | Source: BAKES Saigon
What kind of customers are you looking to attract with the space?
There’s no specific demographic. Even though it’s a French bakery, I wanted to create products that Vietnamese people could relate to. We incorporated French techniques, but adjusted to the local taste —less sweet, more creamy and light using as many local ingredients as possible.
The space and our pastries have a French flair, but ultimately BAKES was created with Vietnamese tastes in mind. Whether your office is next door and you come here for a cup of coffee or looking for something to treat your kids to after school, there is something for everyone.
The space and our pastries have a French flair, but ultimately BAKES was created with Vietnamese tastes in mind. | Source: BAKES Saigon
What kind of story were you looking to tell with the concept and design of the space?
The idea was that the excitement you get from entering the bakery for the first time is the same excitement you get from visiting Disneyland. We could have just stayed online forever, but I wanted to open a space where we could finally interact with our customers and see their reactions when they look at and taste the pastries.
We wanted to create an interactive space with pastries and goodies everywhere you look, starting from the center with our pastry island. We decided to keep as much open as possible. People can see us making drinks, packaging the pastries, or finalizing some pastry decorations. There is something to feast your eyes in every corner.
There is something to feast your eyes on in every corner. | Source: BAKES Saigon
Why did you decide to open BAKES in Saigon and specifically, District 3?
Typically in France, it’s rare for people to sit in a bakery to enjoy a croissant. It’s more meant for take-away or to be enjoyed at home with your loved ones. That’s what I wanted for BAKES, to be in the center of the city where people work or hang out, and the Turtle Lake location provides the perfect setting.
It’s not just about enjoying the pastries, but also about the moments shared with your friends and family or the gesture of buying them something sweet. Most of Saigon will gather at the Turtle Lake regardless of their age or who they are. This makes it the perfect space to create those special moments.
All designs by The Lab Saigon