We were so flattered when Gautier and Ashley Coiffard came into our shop to ask if we wanted to work on a special version of our Brooklyn Heights hat together.
Their bakery L'Appartement 4F is just a few minutes walk from our shop. We'd waited in the long line, like everyone else, to try their famous croissants (and other pastries).
We spent some time with Gautier to talk about his love of croissants, growing up in the French Alps, and his love of the outdoors.
I’ve read that, before L’Appartement 4F was even an idea, you just wanted to be able to bake a good croissant. What is it about croissants that inspired you?
Croissants were my weekend favorite when I was growing up in the French Alps. I was really missing it here in the U.S., so I took it as a challenge to recreate the perfect croissant in my tiny N.Y. apartment.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome to master the croissant?
The most challenging part of making a croissant is knowing how to deal with the climate. It is an art to find the exact conditions where it's not so cold that the butter doesn’t break, but not too hot so it doesn't melt.
I understand you source many of your ingredients from France including the all-important butter. What is it that makes French butter so special?
For a good croissant, you need a high fat content, which allows the croissant to bake at a high temperature while keeping its texture. French butter by law needs to have a very high fat content, so it’s perfect for the job.
Could you describe where you grew up in France? Were the outdoors an important part of your life?
I grew up in Grenoble, which is also known to be the capital of the French Alps. The city is at the bottom of three mountain ranges (Vercors, Chartreuse and Belledone). Being 30 minutes away from the mountains was amazing, and a lot of my weekends were spent either skiing or hiking.
Food is often a reflection of the region that produces it. What does it mean to you to share this piece of home with your neighbors here in New York?
I love the idea that tasting a dish from a different country can transport you there. I think the reason people really connected with us when we launched during COVID is that they were able to get a taste of France while the borders were still closed.
Could you describe your relationship with Brooklyn Heights before and after opening L’Appartement 4F?
Back in 2018, we moved into this neighborhood, drawn by the charm of the brownstones even though we didn't know much about the place. After setting up, we've gotten to know a lot of the locals, and we've realized that the real beauty here isn't just the brownstones themselves, but the great folks who call them home.
What are your favorite outdoor spaces in and around New York?
Ashley and I love going upstate for hikes. The first one we did together was the Overlook Mountain trail, and we always love going back there whenever we are in the area.
In the City, we made it a ritual when time and weather permitted us to walk from Brooklyn Heights to Prospect Park, which is such a fun place.
What does your perfect day off look like?
Starts with Ashley preparing breakfast, then we make sure we turn our phones off and go explore our neighborhood, find a new restaurant, or go to the movies.
Photo & Interview by: Storr Erickson