Tal Campana and her brother Yuval Golan still remember the 20-hour days they worked back when they first began their bakery, often sleeping at the shop in order to fill their display cases with cakes, pastries, danishes and cookies.
Fast forward to today and the two, who celebrated the 10th anniversary of Martine’s Fine Bake Shoppe in Tuckahoe on Nov. 10, have an 8-year-old second location in Scarsdale as well as more than 40 employees.
They’ve also expanded their repertoire, moving beyond baked goods to sandwiches, salads, omelettes, and soups as well as three versions of shakshuka, a popular Israeli skillet dish featuring poached eggs, tomato sauce and spices. They also do catering.
Don’t forget the babka
Most recently, their chocolate babka was in the news when Jerry Seinfeld stopped by their East Parkway location with Ricky Gervais as part of a “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” segment. Seinfeld also bought Israeli ruggelach and a fruit tart (and left a $200 tip on what Campagna said was a “very small order.”)
Needless to say, sales of the babka — they also do cinnamon nut — soared and continue to be a source of conversation (and sales). Pre-Seinfeld, Campana said they sold 200 to 300 a week; now it’s more like 800.
This time of year, with the holidays in full swing, their production quadruples with lots of jelly doughnuts (for Hanukkah) and yule logs (for Christmas) flying out the door. Flavors new this year for the Hanukkah assortment: hazelnut crunch, strawberry-glazed, sprinkle, cinnamon sugar, and Boston Cream.
And, of course, there are also plenty of latkes. Come Christmas, the bakery sells thousands of cookies, pastries, petits fours (in vanilla, raspberry and limoncello) and their own version of a fruit cake, a yeast-based cake with macerated dried fruits.
The majority of the baking is done two levels below the Tuckahoe shop, where, depending on the time of day, employees can be found icing cakes, cutting dough, mixing icing or filling macaroons.
Recipe for success
As for their decade of longevity, the two credit hard work, never cutting corners, and always looking for something new. Top quality ingredients help, as does hiring dedicated, talented staff.
They also have a strong passion for food that comes from growing up in Israel with a mom who loved to bake and a restaurateur dad. “We got the baking gene from our mother and our cooking passion from our dad,” said Golan.
Working with family has never been an issue, despite the long days. “I know what to expect from him and he knows what to expect from me,” said Campana. “It’s all about respect and trust.”
“We started from scratch, which wasn’t easy as we opened our doors during the recession,” added Golan. “But our father always said if you offer your customers a good cup of coffee and a nice piece of cake, they will come. And they did.
“I think we brought a new standard to Westchester.”
Indeed, Campana likes to tell the story of how, soon after they opened, a Tuckahoe customer told her their chocolate ganache cake was too expensive at $34. “And I explained to her that we use the very best chocolate and make the mousse from scratch and that if she didn’t like it, she could come back and I would refund her money.”
The woman did come back — but instead of complaining, she was full of accolades. “She told me it was the most expensive cake she ever bought, but the best cake she ever ate,” said Campana. (FYI: That cake is still $34.)
Making it special
For the brother and sister duo — Campana’s husband, Frank, a retired Yonkers detective, is also a partner — it’s all about offering customers something special, listening to what they want, and surprising them with new items they’ll want to come back for. The two travel to baking shows throughout the world to stay ahead of trends and keep abreast of what’s next.
“We’re always looking for a new adventure and new products so we can bring the best to the people,” said Golan. “It’s all about being better.”
If you go
The patisserie is at 48 East Parkway, Scarsdale, 914-722-4949, and at 10 Fisher Ave., Tuckahoe, 914-346-8650, martinesfinebakeshoppe.com.
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