Marvelous by Fred: What's the deal
After living in Toronto for five years, French-born Jennifer Troger and her husband Jean-Sébastien Gambier decided to leave their corporate jobs behind and bring a little joie de vivre to the city. "Toronto is a big place, but we had the feeling that pastry and this type of thing was missing," says Troger.
With over 40 shops across Europe, the pair were familiar with the iconic French bakery, Aux Merveilleux de Fred, made famous by the meringue cake coated in whipped cream and chocolate shavings. Gambier, who grew up in Lille where pastry fans would line up for hours to get a cake from the institution, was keen to bring the franchise to Canada.
After working with the eponymous chef Frédéric Vaucamps for two years (including going back to Europe to train with him), the couple found the perfect spot at 224 Queen Street West. The patisserie was due to open in March, but then COVID struck and Troger – eight months pregnant – realized their opening wouldn't be such a cakewalk: "I was making the cakes. Our single employee was helping with the bakery. And my husband was spending seven hours a day doing the deliveries across Toronto."
Marvelous by Fred: What to get
Despite the turbulent start, Troger admits that Toronto's appetite has been there from day one. Marvelous by Fred's customer base has gone from ordering online to a belated launch in May. Having pastry fans finally walk through the door has given Troger the opportunity to educate her clientele on their specialities, like cramik brioche, waffles and of course, la pièce de résistance, le merveilleux.
"We make very few products, but we do them very well. A lot of people come in and ask for a lemon tart or a crème aux noix (from Brittany), but we're really a concept shop."
Lip-smackingly good Belgium cakes are made by stacking two meringues on top of each other and welding them with whipped cream. Frédéric Vaucamps made his name by developing his own versions of the confection with coffee, cherry and caramel iterations. Delicieux!
Everything at Marvelous by Fred is made from scratch, from croissants and pain bagnat (sandwiches) to the flat waffles stuffed with vanilla. Another staple at the bakeshop is the cramik brioche, a typical Flemish brioche from the north of France and Belgium. The kind studded with chocolate chip is our favourite version.
Marvelous by Fred: What else
If you can't decide on a flavour, order a gift box to sample a selection of the mini Marvelous Pastries. From L'Excentrique with cherry to L'Impensable with coffee meringue and L'Incroyable with speculoos and white chocolate, you'll have as much fun trying to pronounce these bites as you will eating them.
Patisserie pottering might be the best thing about any European vacation. But if we can't saunter around Parisian streets, a stroll to Queen Street's newest bakery is the next best thing.
To learn more, visit marvelousbyfredtoronto.ca