Emily Rheingans is the owner and head baker of Seward's newest little bakery, Mon Petit Chéri(my little darling). She's put so much work and love into its creation, we think it's fitting she'll open her doors on Valentine's Day. Stop by, welcome her and her team to the neighborhood, and pick up a flaky-fluffy treat for your petit chéri.
Where did your passion for baking originate?
My grandma taught me the patience needed to make bread through the practice of making yeasted, sweet roll dough. After preparing, we would cover our dough and place it on top of the radiator in the kitchen. My excitement would swell with its rising, and my mother would appease me by letting me stand on a chair in the kitchen while I waited. I would stick my hands into the left over flour while I impatiently watched for the Tupperware bowl to pop open from the expansion of the dough inside. Thinking back on this memory, I know that my passion for baking was really influenced by both my grandma and mother.
After gaining experience in several restaurants and bakeries in the Twin Cities, you traveled to France. Could you tell us about that experience?
When I was 22, I was young—naïve. My heart was broken. In search of greater experience and meaning in life, I decided to leave the country.
My friend and I contacted a dairy farm in Southern France, Saint-Julienne-en-Quint, through an organization called World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF). They agreed to have us work on the farm for room and board, so we left. For a month, we picked Calendula flowers in the fields in the morning. We learned about milking cows and making cheese and yogurt. That summer, I discovered what hard labor feels like at the end of the day.
At the end of our stay, my friend and I rented a car and traveled around different regions in France for two weeks. We went to different Boulangeries and Patisseries every morning and afternoon, and the way the French treat and view food was something I really admired.
I definitely took a passion for sustainable agriculture and French culture back back home with me.
You spent 6 months at the Minneapolis Farmers Market prior to deciding to expand to brick and mortar. Is there anything in particular that you’ve taken away from that experience?
The farmers market was such an amazing experience. Everyone was incredibly supportive of new businesses, and many people helped market and source for my business in ways that I didn't know how to at that point. Aside from that, it had been years since I had worked retail customer service. Making the product myself and selling it directly to the consumer helped me understand what the community was looking for and what people liked.
What are the must-try items on your menu?
I love our Brioche au Chocolat, which is a little homage to a traditional French pastry, but done the MPC way. We roll our brioche like a traditional sweet roll, and I think it results in more vanilla cream, more chocolate, and a moister brioche. I'm also a cookie monster, so our cookie line up is a hard one to beat.
You aim to use local ingredients whenever possible. Could you tell us more about that decision and is there anybody in particular that you’ll be working with?
As a consumer, sustainable agriculture and local eco-systems are something that I've been passionate about for quite some time, but my desire to work with local ingredients grew much deeper after my trip to France. To me, it just makes sense. I have several close relationships at the Minneapolis Farmers Market, and a majority of our fresh produce will be coming from them in the summertime, as well as our honey and maple. We're also really excited to be partnering with Dogwood Coffee for all of our espresso and coffee. Dogwood is a role model for sourcing sustainably and we appreciate that they ensure farmers are getting a fair trade.
How do you envision the atmosphere at MPC Bakery?
I really aspire to have a warm, neighborhood friendly vibe at MPC. I know a lot of people say that, but I think once people see our menu (both savory and sweet), they'll realize that we are all about honest, well-made, non-pretentious food. From what I've seen so far, the Seward Neighborhood is a really close knit community, which I think is great. I hope people are as excited to have us here as we are to be here!
MPC Bakery, 2401 East Franklin Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55406