Marc Heu was two years into medical school in France when he decided to do something drastic: become a pastry chef instead.
To help make that lifelong dream happen, Heu enrolled in the accelerated program at the Lenôtre school and tightened his techniques at the Michelin-starred Le Pré Catelan and at Paris’ oldest pâtisserie, Stohrer. A subsequent stint at Dominique Ansel’s iconic New York bakery ended abruptly last Christmas when Heu bought a one-way ticket back to MSP and launched his own now-or-never operation in St. Paul. (Heu was born in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, France, and raised in French Guiana, but he moved to the Twin Cities soon after meeting his wife, Gaosong, here in 2012, while visiting extended family for the summer. You can read more about his life, patisserie, and croissant-making process in this Q&A.)
Growing up on a farm meant Heu and his family had to bake their favorite breads and pastries at home. While it took him a minute to master the myriad layers of a croissant, Heu has spent most of his adult life making intricate desserts for friends and family.
That attention to detail, combined with a couple rigorous years of training, is reflected in everything from his flaky chocolate-pistachio escargot to artful yet accessible specials like fall’s chestnut-buttercream-and-meringue tart and winter’s riff on a Black Forest cake, complete with cocoa powder, dark chocolate biscuits, vanilla ganache montée, cherry confit, chocolate whipped cream, and fresh fruit.
Rather than go the traditional cafe route, Heu started with specialty cakes—an online business, essentially—in the first half of 2019 and unveiled his light-bathed grab-and-go shop near the Green Line’s Western Avenue Station over the summer.
Expanded hours, a full coffee menu, and proper seating were saved for a later date so Heu and his wife (the pâtisserie’s chief operating officer) could build a sustainable business and keep their products consistent. (They’re displayed under cloche domes like sugar-and-butter-lacquered precious specimens for a reason.)
383 University Ave. W., St. Paul, marcheuparis.com