Amandine Bakery: Elemental Pieces
Sara Naftaly is not a day-off kind of person. She doesn’t need to be. Her life is right where she wants it.
She is the creative director of both Amandine and Marmite, giving her plenty of outlets for her culinary delights. She makes time for us on a Sunday after we have had the chance to enjoy both locations. Meeting her after having tasted the food is like meeting Jimi Hendrix after listening to Purple Haze. This makes sense, as she has a bit of a rocker feel, leather jacket complementing her boots, she is composed and confident without the sharp edge of ego. She is contemplative of her surroundings, everything as it should be. We meet her on her stage and she is ready to play.
Hailing from Europe her accent is British but her elocution moves perfectly between French and English thanks to time spent in Paris, making the conversation as smooth as the mousse I had the other night at Marmite.
The chocolate she uses is Valrhona, which I couldn’t pronounce correctly. Ethically sourced, sustainably harvested, by adults. Her otherwise smooth demeanor stiffens as she furrows her brow. She explains that chocolate is oftentimes the opposite and harvested by child labor, sometimes as slave labor. She is unwavering in her philosophy of what it means to be a creator and the responsibility she has in the sources she uses. The outcome matters as much as the ingredients and the process it takes to reach the table. No detail, however seemingly small, is to be overlooked; it all contributes. It’s what allows her to build a consistent product and patron base, while sharing, through her flavors, the life that has brought her here.
“Some of our flavors are a bit different, and that’s another thing you have to stand by, it feels rewarding to push the palette a little bit. Last year we made a black olive and meyer lemon macaron, and eyebrows went up.” She explains the nature of chefs and patrons, “We have developed relationships with people who trusted us enough to try it and they were pleasantly surprised, we sold out.”
The location lends itself to that. Capitol Hill, as a whole, houses many, but Chop House Row is a haven against the gentrification that surrounds it.
“Small people can’t make it so they get eradicated. I hope that there are enough people who realize it is people and experiences that make life interesting. Big companies pretending to be small ones. Technically you are the chef and the owner, but, you are not the one there doing all of the work, or personally involved…” She pauses and I realize she is talking about the global phenomenon of celebrity chefs. I nod, I agree, there is definitely something about being with the people not only creating the vision but also doing it everyday.
Having grown up between Brighton and Paris, the concept of knowing where your food is from is not foreign to Sara. She continues to appreciate the simplicity and beauty of working with local farmers and local workers alike. Subsequently, she advocates for engaged communities that depend on and celebrate local workers, remaining cognizant of the shifting demographics across the city. She elaborates, expressing that working this way, “really feeds something elemental and important”.
The elements matter. She shares something I did not know: “Perfect macarons are not a solid crisp. If they are, they are young and not ready. Macarons need time.”
Time is something you can taste, something that resonates differently on the palate as the texture smooths. It is her smoothness which comes through in the creations and of course the timing needed to achieve them all.
This leaves her minimal to zero time outside of her work, with both Amandine and Marmite, though she looks forward to some time off for travels, possibly this year. In the meantime, you will find her happily and skillfully working in the kitchen as a true creator of memorable flavors- someone who understands time is a crucial element, not just the passing of seconds.
Experience the flavors for yourself and step inside Amandine.
Monday - Friday 7:00am-7:00pm
Saturday - Sunday 8:00am-6:00pm
Contact Amandine at +1 (206)948-2097