SF Eats: Chantal Guillon
What's super light, delicious, and probably not great for your bank account? MACARONS. Also, probably a lot of other things, but I'm talking about macarons today because I had the chance to see all the work that goes into making these delicious treats—literally, I had to make some.
The Chantal Guillon team invited me to come by their HQ to take a tour of the bakery and to meet the legend and bakery's founder, Chantal. First of all, AESTHETICS.
I absolutely loved the Chantal Guillon on Howard St. because it was all white with pops of color, had high ceilings, and had a bunch of large windows for lovely natural lighting. There's plenty of seating inside for you to enjoy some coffee with macarons, croissants, or a sandwich (they have all of these on the menu).
The staff took us to the back where the magic happens, and we saw the team making lavender-black currant macarons. Cathrin, one of the team members, told me that they make about 2,000 macarons a day. That's already a lot of macarons, but the number DOUBLES around holiday time! They have a machine that pipes out the macaron shells, but they still have to do basically everything else by hand. These guys have been doing this for a while, but I was still surprised to see how fast they could pipe and assemble the macarons!
After a little tour, they asked me and my friend, Patrick, if we wanted to give it a shot. I threw on an apron, pulled my hair back, donned some gloves, and started piping. It was so much harder than it looks! You have to get the right amount on each shell—not too much and not too little. These macarons have a little white dollop in the middle, and, when you put the macaron together, you don't want the white to show. Overall, I assembled about 5 macarons in the time it took one of the Chantal Guillon guys to do...one whole tray 😂
While we tried our hands at macaron piping, Chantal came out to meet us. Fashionably dressed as a Parisian would be, she was very sweet and pretended that our macarons were good enough to be sold 😂
As we watched the team finish up, Chantal told us that there is no head chef in their kitchen. They prefer the team to work together at the same level so it feels more like a collaboration, and they even get together to taste test and vote on which flavors they should release next. Pretty cool working environment!
After we moved on from the lavender-black currant macarons, we got to try some coconut tuiles fresh from the oven. These are made from just coconut, butter, and sugar, so they were obviously very delicious! Hot tip: they recommend eating these crispy, delicious cookies with some ice cream for a lovely contrast—I'm definitely trying that next time!
The last part of our tour had us go back to the front of the bakery where Chantal and her team handpicked a box of macarons for us. Her favorites included the Chocolate and the Almond Amaretto. In addition to those, I got a Passionfruit, Pistachio, Lemon Thyme, Red Velvet, Salted Caramel, Mandarin, Coffee and Mint (a tribute to Philz's Mint Mojito), Earl Grey, Persian Rose, and their Thanksgiving limited edition flavor.
The team was also sweet enough to let us try their version of the ice cream macaron, and, FYI, it was delicious. While you're shopping for holiday gifts, Chantal Guillon has a super cute seasonal holiday sleeve for their boxes to make a sweet treat for your friends and family!
Unfortunately, the Grace/Patrick macaron specials probably won't be on sale anytime soon