Every once in awhile, two entities come together to create something remarkable. Like chocolate and peanut butter (if you are into that sort of combination and aren’t allergic to nuts.) Separately, they have prominent tastes with one being salty and the other sweet; but put them together, you basically just initiated a big bang theory in the flavor universe.
Hence what happened when Philip Duquette-Saville, founding member of BASWA and inaugural editor of this here magazine, and Paula M. Stadtmiller, pastry chef extraordinaire, met so many moons ago. Philip, a native of Worcester, MA, had just finished his degree in Optical Engineering at UR and was working front of house at Crème de la Crème, a Rochester restaurant and pastry shop, while Paula, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, was creating her masterpieces.
“I learned a lot about baking and pastry from her. Together, we started Premier Pastry in 1989,” says Philip of Paula.
Philip is a self-taught pastry chef, recalling his fondness of the culinary arts as having been stirred up from an early age. “My mom would subscribe to Bon Appetit magazine and there was this one magazine cover I remember that had a beautiful rectangle cake on the front cover that I’m like, I have to make this! I pulled out the recipe, it was around 30 steps to this thing… It came out pretty good considering I substituted ingredients half of them. I’m game to try anything. Sometimes [my attempts] would succeed and sometimes they would fail but I always got the job done.”
Paula cites that it was like a combination of perfect ingredients when she met Philip, “It was one of those things where we kind of knew pretty quickly that we would work together. We just knew we would be on the same page and click— strengthen each others weaknesses and that kind of thing.”
As one girl in a family of seven brothers there were a lot of mouths to feed and Paula recalls standing on a chair at three years old to help her mother bake cookies. “It was something we did together. My whole family likes to cook…and eat. So it was all very much how we grew up. We didn’t get Oreo cookies in our lunches. There was no such thing as a Lunchable; my mother made everything from scratch. Dinner was on the table every night. It’s the way we were brought up. It’s in my blood, my DNA. Both sides of my families’ generations back have owned bakeries in the city. So this generation’s back.”
Philip and Paula eased into the cake creating business by means of appointments in their apartment and a rented industrial kitchen while waiting close to seven years for the renovations of their space to be complete, which has been a fully functional bakery at 433 South Avenue since 1998.
Paula agrees that it was worth the wait and loves the layout they chose for Premier Pastry. “It’s an open kitchen… that was very important to me, when people came in they weren’t just seeing display. I want people to see what was going on in the kitchen. This whole Food Network that’s taken off, I think people do find it fascinating for people to watch…like making a rose out of gum paste. Or see the details.”
Philip agrees and also adds that there is “a show room where we do appointments and a display case. We have a small place where we have cupcakes every day, tarts, like apple or pecan. Around the holidays we’ll have more products like decorated cookies and around certain holidays like Saint Patrick’s Day we’ll have shamrock cookies and we’ll do Bailey’s Guinness cupcakes. That kind of stuff. Valentines Day had specialty cookies…”
The core of Premier Pastry is in their wedding cakes which are all unique, made completely from scratch, and personalized to the meet their customer’s needs whether they prefer butter cream frosting, fondant, or something in between. Philip and Paula will do their best to accommodate. “We‘ll try to do pretty much anything that people want. There’s a list of the different cake flavors and combinations on our website and I keep meaning to put up a hidden cake menu on the website too, because there’s things that we do that aren’t advertised but we do pretty regularly. Like red velvet cake, coconut cake, an apple spice in the fall, or pumpkin… black forest cake. Again, not something that we do all the time but we are happy to do it.”
To this, Paula adds, “Customers say it doesn’t feel like a bakery it seems more like an art studio. People are actually in here creating things and it’s different every day. We rarely do the same cake twice and we pay attention to detail. It’s the custom work that we do and a lot of these are for events that you can almost equate to a wedding. Some birthday parties are almost on the scale of a small wedding with the amount of detail that goes into them. That’s where our business is. Doing that custom work. We do cakes and pastries for someone to order on a smaller scale as well.”
Premier Pastry is a microcosm of all things delicious and decadent right here in the Wedge. With themes ranging from elegant to extravagant— casinos, the 1980’s, handbags or high heels— whatever your thing is, you can probably have it recreated using the “highest quality ingredients like fresh eggs, heavy cream, real butter and pure Belgian chocolate.”
And don’t forget passion, because Philip and Paula have plenty of that as their creations stem from your dreams, to their hearts.
Premier Pastry is open Tuesday- Fridays 10am-6pm and until around 3pm on Saturdays, depending on the time of year. While the shop isn’t open on Sundays, they are working hard outside of the shop on weddings and parties. They are closed three weeks a year. Paula and Philip ask that you contact them at least a week in advance for orders and can typically accommodate an order turnaround as soon as possible.
*Please see their website for examples of their outrageous and insanely gorgeous cake designs!