St. Louis bakery La Pâtisserie Chouquette takes the crown with its Mardi Gras king cakes
The biggest Mardi Gras celebration in the United States is in New Orleans. That makes sense because of the town’s strong French connection.
The French connection also is strong in St. Louis, a town founded by colonial French fur traders in 1764. And, in St. Louis, Mardi Gras celebrations are often hard and loud, most notably in the Soulard neighborhood.
But it’s not just the abundance of alcohol, beads and masks that are hallmarks of the Fat Tuesday celebration. So too is the king cake, a delicious ringed cake covered with icing and topped with green, purple and gold sprinkles.
The other thing about king cakes: There’s a tiny plastic baby hidden inside. Tradition says that finding the baby symbolizes luck and prosperity.
Simone Faure, chef/owner of La Pâtisserie Chouquette in St. Louis’ Botanical Heights neighborhood, knows king cakes well. The native New Orleanian recalls eating her first king cake in elementary school.
Faure opened the bakery in St. Louis in 2013, and she’s baked king cakes there every year since.
“I think the more aware that people become of [king cake] their curiosity is piqued and people want to taste it,” Faure said on St. Louis on the Air. “They start to realize that Mardi Gras goes far beyond public drunkenness and that there are traditions to uphold during the Mardi Gras season.”
Along with king cakes, La Pâtisserie Chouquette — or “Chouquette” for short — offers an array of traditional French and New Orleanian delicacies for the Mardi Gras season including beignets, blackberry bread pudding and crawfish hand pies.
“We're now wondering if we bit off more than we could chew because we do have our Saturday Mardi Gras festivities coming, but we're going to try to get to as many things as we can with lots of prayers, fingers crossed and Red Bull.”
Faure’s efforts have now gained national attention. The James Beard Foundation recently named La Pâtisserie Chouquette a semifinalist in its newly added “outstanding bakery” category.
Faure told Sauce Magazine that she gasped out loud in the bakery when she heard the news.
“When you do get recognition that you know is big, is huge, it helps you to feel like maybe you weren't invisible, maybe you were doing something that other people found value in, and that feels good,” Faure told the magazine.
To hear more about king cakes, how Simone Faure can spot a fellow New Orleanian, and how her sister sends Faure customers all the way from New Orleans listen to St. Louis on the Air on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Google Podcast, Stitcher, or by clicking the play button below.
What: La Pâtisserie Chouquette – Mardi Gras specials
When: Feb. 18 and Feb. 21
Where: 1626 Tower Grove Ave., St. Louis, MO 63110
“St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is produced by Miya Norfleet, Emily Woodbury, Danny Wicentowski, Elaine Cha and Alex Heuer. Avery Rogers is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr. Send questions and comments about this story to firstname.lastname@example.org.