Authentic French sweet and savory cuisine is now front and center at the Grand Rapids Downtown Market.
Chef Jean-Gabriel “Gaby” Ferrandon had a soft opening of Gaby’s Gourmandise in the Downtown Market, at 435 Ionia Ave. SW in Grand Rapids, last weekend. The French patisserie is in the space at the front of the market that was formerly occupied by Sweetie-licious Bake Shoppe, which closed in February. A grand opening date has not been set.
The French eatery offers sweet and savory authentic French and French-inspired items. Sweets include galettes, cakes, tartes, viennoiserie, crepes, cookies, éclairs and mille-feuilles. Savory menu items include a selection of French snacks, sandwiches, quiches, pies, salads, soups and stews.
Ferrandon, who is from France, has over 20 years of culinary experience. He was classically trained in fine dining at Fontiville culinary school and honed his skills in Paris for over six years. He also worked as demi-chef partie at a two-Michelin star Alain Ducasse restaurant and at La Tour D’Argent, a three-Michelin star restaurant that is among one of the oldest restaurants in Paris. After moving to the San Francisco Bay Area, he served as executive chef in restaurants throughout San Francisco, as well as tasting chef and manager in a large, fine-dining catering company. He also spent over 10 years as a culinary instructor in Berkeley, California, at Kitchen on Fire, where he taught sweet and savory baking, fine dining and themed cuisine from countries around the world.
In 2018, Ferrandon began the search for a location to grow his own business venture, Gaby’s Gourmandise. Ultimately, he and his wife moved to Grand Rapids to be closer to family and to be part of the booming West Michigan food scene. Gaby’s Gourmandise started out in the market’s incubator kitchen in August 2020 until the opportunity to become a market hall tenant arose.
“I have a deep desire to share my love of food with my community,” Ferrandon said of his business. “I don’t cut corners with my products. I utilize my skills, classic training and desire for excellence to craft high-quality items. I make all of my own doughs from scratch, and I am determined to utilize the freshest and finest ingredients from local sources as much as possible with a few refined ingredients from France.”
Ferrandon uses classic French ingredients in his cooking. The Palet Breton cookie uses fleur de sel, or “flower of salt” in French, which is a hand-harvested sea salt from the Brittany region in France. As for chocolate, he uses Valrhona, one of the world’s finest chocolate brands, produced only in the small village of L’Hermitage, France.
“It’s ceremonial in a way, to allow yourself to pause for a moment and savor a delicious cookie or tarte,” Ferrandon said. “I want my creations to inspire customers to take a moment for themselves to fully indulge in the flavor and enjoy every bite.”
Gaby’s Gourmandise will be open during regular Downtown Market hours, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday.