A native of France is bringing his home country’s cuisine to Horizon West with his new eatery, The French Café, in Hamlin.
Born in Alsace, France, chef Francois Paille developed a love for sweets and pastries at a young age. He began by helping his grandmother make jams, cakes and beignets, and that sparked his lifelong passion for baking.
“I like food, and I always liked desserts,” Paille said. “I liked eating it first, so that’s why I (like) working a lot on the taste of things, because I’m very picky with what I’m eating. I’m picky for the customer, too — I want the best for them.”
In France, Paille learned from pastry chefs in Strasbourg and Lyon. He studied the art for seven years before making the transatlantic move to Miami to work as executive pastry chef in a bakery there. Three years ago, he and his wife made the move to Orlando, where he again worked as executive pastry chef at another restaurant before deciding to open his own café.
The French Café opened in December and experienced a few hiccups along the way, Paille said, but things have smoothed out with time, and the community response has been positive.
“At the beginning, we weren’t prepared, and we opened in a rush,” he said. “Now we are fully open, and food is made faster. You need to work as a team, because by myself, I can’t do everything. I’m glad to have a good team that follows me, and I have two very good managers that help me.”
From croissants, bread and pastries to the French onion soup and crepes, everything at the café is made from scratch with fresh ingredients.
Paille knows not everyone is always adventurous with trying new foods, so there are some familiar favorites on the menu. Those includes a BLT sandwich, ham and cheese croissant, a variety of salads and omelets.
“I want to introduce my French food, but at the same time, I like to offer things that people are more used to,” he said.
Whether a customer is a commuter who wants to grab a quick coffee or bite to eat in the morning, a student looking for a place to grab coffee and study or a someone looking for a sweet treat, Paille hopes to cater to every age and demographic.
“I love the ambiance here (in Hamlin), and I love the people here,” he said. “The human interaction is beautiful for me, seeing all the customers and talking to people.”