A smash hit with Dean & DeLuca
December 3, 2008
BROOKLINE - Tzurit Or is overwhelmed. A rarity, because the owner and head baker at Tatte Fine Cookies & Cakes maintains strict control over her business, her baked goods, and until now, her emotions.
Two weeks ago, a buyer from Dean & DeLuca -the highly selective and notoriously expensive grocery store chain based in New York - called Or to say her handmade pastries would be sold in their SoHo location. It happens to be her favorite shop. What it meant was gearing up to produce one of the largest orders she's ever made. Steven Millard, a senior buyer at Dean & DeLuca, wanted an array of baked goods, which he asked for the week before Thanksgiving.
Or and four bakers used three ovens around the clock to make the confections and also keep up with the daily demand in the cafe. They delivered the goods to New York in three days. Or, who had barely slept all week, visited Dean & DeLuca to see her wares on the shelves. It took her breath away. Her signature "nut boxes," butter pastry baked into rectangles and filled with a blend of toasted nuts and caramel, were there, along with 23-inch fig biscotti, and pistachio meringues.
"Tatte's baked goods quite literally blew us away with the quality, uniqueness of presentation, and most importantly, in taste," says Millard. People in his office were fighting over who would get the last bite of Tatte's samples, he says. He ordered a full assortment without hesitation. "They were very unassumingly left at our office to try," says the buyer, "No sales pitch, no pleading calls afterward about what we thought. This bespoke confidence in product that is very admirable to see."
For her part, Or says, she "had a hard time believing it was actually happening." If the order had been even larger, she wonders if she could have filled it. To streamline production for a larger Christmas order she's expecting from Dean & DeLuca, she plans to set up another kitchen. Other plans include expanding her wholesale business and opening more cafes in Boston, New York, and the West Coast. The Brookline location opened earlier this year.
Or began baking out of her Needham home three years ago, selling handmade cookies, cakes, and pies at fairs and farmers' markets. She became known when she got a slot at the Copley Square market. She and her family moved to Brookline and soon opened Tatte (from the childlike mispronunciation of the Hebrew word for "grandmother"). Or, 36, was born near Tel Aviv and came here five years ago.
The baker has had other requests for wholesale orders, but always hesitated. She worried about losing control of quality. "I don't want my product to be all over the place," Or says. "I want it to be unique." The only store she is willing - in fact, eager - to sell to is Dean & DeLuca. "They appreciate quality," she says.
The order came about because she drove a sample of her favorite confections to New York, dropped them off at the corporate headquarters, and went back to Boston to wait. It wasn't long after that that the call came from Millard.
"When you work from your heart," says Or, "it's hard to let go and have a huge business. But I will keep it handmade. And good quality. No matter what."
Tatte Fine Cookies & Cakes, 1003 Beacon St., Brookline.
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