Patrick Lézé on Healthcare, Harley Davidsons, and French Dinner Parties
Sure, we have Colombian, Cuban, and heck even some Chinese, but in terms of traditional French pastry shops, the options are few and far between.
In late 2013, Patrick Lézé Palm Beach sprouted out of the old Champs Elysees bakery on "the island;" its namesake master pastry chef churns out a wide selection of breads, chocolates, and sweet treats in a comfortable and casual setting.
We sat down to chat with the renowned patissier about beating cancer, stumbling upon Palm Beach on a Harley, and the real difference between France and the U.S.
Clean Plate Charlie: You recently overcame a battle with cancer. You started undergoing treatment in the United States, but decided to go back to France. Why?
Lézé: Right after I was diagnosed, I started treatment and underwent my first treatment here, but the cancer came back quickly. Because of the prohibitive costs of treatment and chemotherapy I decided to go back to France; the healthcare system is more approachable over there.
You started working on the rebranding of the shop while you were going through treatment. What was that like?
I had Champs Elysees for five years; we were talking about if for about a year. I was involved in the PB Catch dinner at the Palm Beach Food and Wine Festival last year and we started talking about the opportunity right around then. Just after the dinner I went back to France to begin treatment (in January). In July my wife closed down the shop, came to France, and we started the rebranding. It was a challenge for me, because I was sick, but I like my job. I know cancer is important, but it wasn't to me; I fought it. Working on the project gave me hope. I knew that when I came back I'd have something great waiting for me. I've been doing this for 50 years now, and I've never felt this strongly.