Don’t you wish there was a “taste” button on your computer screen?
When I began planning my travels to New Orleans I knew that I would not be leaving without a visit to Sucré, the famed bakery that has been featured in countless magazines, travel guides and news stories.
As a writer I always research my travels to the 9th degree. This is due to some faulty hardwiring within me that fears I might miss something fabulous if I don’t read every scrap of information available. I therefore had read quite a bit about Sucre’s famed pastry chef and founding partner, Tariq Hanna.
During my research I began to formulate in my mind what he might look like. Yes, it would have been easier just to “google” his name, but what fun is that? When thinking about French pastry chefs what comes to your mind?
Perhaps if you add in a smidge of this…
…Sprinkle in a bit of boyish charm,
…Perhaps a dash of laughter mixed with big hearted talent and you would almost have the essence of Chef Hanna.
When I spotted the ruggedly handsome Hanna sporting pierced ears, spiky hair and a goatee, I immediately relaxed and thought “Now this is my type of chef!” This thought was further reinforced when he later revealed an image of a Fleur~de~lis tattooed on his arm.
Chef Hanna was born in Nigeria and attended boarding school in England. Upon moving to the Detroit area to study architecture, he instead fell into culinary school. The reasons behind this decision are stories that are his to tell.
After completing his studies, Hanna worked as a breakfast cook in a diner where he attempted to keep the waitresses happy. He then tried the graveyard shift at a Dunkin Donuts for six months simply because he liked donuts. After that, he owned and operated his own gourmet shop, Northville Gourmet, for five years.
Other jobs came and went. He also became involved in several competitions with the Food Network and the American Culinary Federation.
During this time he met his future wife, Jennifer. The mere mention of her name brought a crystallized gleam to his eye that was lovely to see. Jennifer loved the Big Easy and passed on her love to Tariq. The two eventually married in New Orleans prior to Katrina.
The devastating hurricane could not dampen their love and enthusiasm for the city. A meeting made of true kismet occurred when Hanna met his business partner, Joel Dondis. Within a short amount of time everything was put on the line and the two decided to open Sucré. Hanna left a well paying job in Detroit for a future filled with unknowns in a city, that five years later, is still in the midst of recovery.
It appears to be a sweet gamble that has paid off. Sucré has become well known for it’s magnificent desserts, handcrafted chocolates and of course the French macaron. The shop believes in the concept of sustainable baking~meaning that they try to use regional ingredients from farmers and businesses in the New Orleans area.
Chef Hanna subscribes to the Stan Lee notion that “With great power, comes great responsibility”. While he receives great joy in the happy faces of his customers, he also has the desire to give back. He often can be found in classrooms sharing his knowledge and love of pastry, as well as donating his time to several fund raising efforts. Pictured below is his French bulldog, aptly named Bon Bon, during a fund raiser for the SPCA. His other dog is named after a well loved British comedian, which provides a glimpse of his sense of humor.
He credits his parents for instilling in him the admirable traits and characteristics of which he possesses. Indeed after our marathon chat session I couldn’t help but feel blessed to have met him.
I imagine that his future will continue to shine and the goals he has set for himself will be met. With each success I hope he rewards himself with his favorite dessert which surprisingly is quite humble and can be found in most grocery stores.
My hope for your future is that you experience and enjoy several of his irresistible masterpieces. Beware, you can shop Sucré online.
Thank you to those who have participated in the Make It Right Foundation team Decor To Adore. We have currently raised $50 in support of the efforts to rebuild.
The generosity found within the blogging community never ceases to amaze me.