Scammers rejoice in Paris – The New York Times

All it took to bring this con man to life was a baker looking for a diversion, his tried-and-true croissant recipe, and a few cookies for inspiration.It took tick tock To make it go viral.

Stéphane Levart created this cookie about a year and a half ago when he came up with the idea of ​​putting cookie dough inside croissants and baking them again. But demand for his con artist has exploded in recent months after TikTok videos flaunting his work. One day in February, Louvard sold 2,300 pastries at a bakery in a busy part of Paris.

“The whole planet is talking about us. One person even said they came all the way from Madrid just to buy cookies. That’s crazy,” she says as she prepares to cut them in half and fill them with chocolate chip cookie dough. Loubar said as he prepared the baking sheet for the croissant.

The scammer – whose name was invented by Loubard’s son Nicholas, a business school student – has not only taken social media by storm. It spread to other bakeries across France and around the world.

Croissants have long been popular in the French capital. Legend has it that Marie Antoinette first brought croissants from Austria in the late 18th century. But in recent years, fusion baking has become more popular in Paris and across France, with bakeries adopting the trend one after the other. brookie (a combination of a brownie and a cookie), cronuts and cruffins (a combination of a croissant and a donut or muffin).

Loubard, 51, who has been making his own croissants from scratch for decades, was preparing them one morning in October 2022 when he saw his team making cookies next to him. So, I got this cookie inspiration and decided to mix them up. He continued to make cookies, mostly for fun, during his long shifts starting at 4 a.m. each day.

He managed to sell a dozen or two a day, but abandoned them last summer as temperatures rose and sales of the heavier pastries declined. The following fall, he began baking cookies at the request of regular customers, but never sold more than 30 cookies a day.

“This is literally food porn,” Paps said in the video, brandishing a pastry at the camera. A look of pleasure spreads across his face as he bites into it.

Mr. Levard’s bakery, Maison Levard, in central Paris, has attracted new customers. “We started doubling the quantity, reaching 600, 700 pieces per day, but it still wasn’t enough,” he recalls.

When the villain craze reached its peak, Maison Louvard had to reorganize the entire production to satisfy the audience. Mr Roubard said demand had fallen slightly during Ramadan, the Muslim fasting month, and due to warmer weather. But the bakery still sells about 1,000 pieces a day, and tourists and locals alike still flock to try it.

This week, the bakery received a special delivery request from the George V Hotel, a five-star hotel in Paris. “At 1 a.m., a guest asked to have the original villain in his room,” Loubard said.

Jesse Leworthy, who was visiting Paris with a friend from Devon, England, recently took a selfie with his first bite of a cookie at the entrance of a bakery. “I wasn’t sure how her two different textures would work together, but it’s delicious,” she said.

Still, the scammer has his detractors.

David Iemolo, a tourist from Philadelphia, said he learned about the pastry mashup on social media. “I’m choking right now. I wish I had water.” “Both are individually great. Put them together and it’s probably too much for me.”

There are many comments on social media describing the scammer as too oily, too heavy, or too “American.” The price is also 5.90 euros (about $6.30) for takeout, which is about three times the price of a regular croissant, and 7.10 euros for eat-in.

“This is the price of a cookie plus the price of a croissant,” Loubar said in defense, citing the high quality of the butter, flour and chocolate used and the long working hours of his staff.

It takes Louvard and his team 36 hours to create the perfect croissant-friendly “viennoiserie” (a pastry that’s soft and airy on the inside and crunchy and buttery on the outside). The dough must rest for hours at a constant temperature, then a large dollop of butter is poured on it, and it is folded, pressed, and folded again a dozen times to achieve the puff pastry you desire.

This is why so many French bakers have given up on making their own croissants and have chosen to buy frozen croissants.

“In France, people don’t make their own croissants anymore,” says Jean-Marie Laniot, a chef and author who regularly travels across Asia to teach people how to make the French staple.

According to the French Bakery Federation, industrial companies account for more than 70% of France’s total pastry production, supplying bakeries, supermarkets and cafes.

Some bakeries are now hoping that social media trends like the one driving demand for this cookie will help encourage more people to make more of the product themselves. There is.

“This has given the younger generation a new desire to bake pastries,” Lanio said.

Pastry chef Amaury Guichon I created my own impostor on TikTok Last month; this video was viewed 9 million times. This was in striking contrast to the number of likes Loubard’s son received the first time he posted a photo of a scammer at a bakery. Instagram He estimated there would be a little more than 100 by 2022.

Scammers have appeared on the shelves of bakeries across the city, and now there are ads like: Major French frozen food manufacturer It is also sold at major commercial bakery chains, wherecon man

Crookey mania also spread all over the world. “My followers send me messages about scammers in Sydney, Dubai, Singapore and New York,” influencer Paps said. “It’s everywhere.”

Mr. Lanio himself first encountered the scammer while visiting Bali two weeks ago.

Didier Chapoux, who teaches at the Ferrandi culinary school, said he was pleased the villains were drawing attention to their freshly made pastries.

He encourages fusion baking in his classes, allowing students to find their own style and preferences. But in the end, he said, “Villains may be interesting, but the ultimate problem is always where to find the best croissant in Paris.”

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