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Frank Adrian Barron’s brand new cookbook Sweet Paris offers 59 mouthwatering seasonal dessert recipes, as well as tips on how to be a classic Parisian host. From constructing the perfect cheese plate, to crafting a beautiful floral bouquet, and setting the perfect French table, his new book allows us all to experience a taste of a truly sweet, and stylish Paris.
Nothing in Frank’s life pointed to this moment, to the launch of his cookbook in Paris. Not his degree in Art History from UC Berkeley, nor his job with San Francisco’s de Young Museum with an office overlooking Golden Gate Park.
Not his home in Ashbury Heights, filled with souvenirs from his travels throughout Southeast Asia.
None of that pointed to Paris, or cakes. Neither did meeting James, his now-husband, a Belgian-born engineer.
In 2012, James was transferred to Paris for a two-year stint. Frank came along planning to support his spouse for the assigned time and then get back to their familiar life in California.
That’s what got him to Paris, but there were as-yet no cakes involved.
Like many trailing partners, Frank got homesick. These partners get left at home while their spouses work long hours, basking in the glory of being busy and needed. The stay-at-home spouses putter around their apartments, studying French and walking the dog. They miss their families and friends, their old jobs where they were clever and resourceful, their familiar routines. They cry over the subjonctif. They cry at the Préfecture when they go pick up their visas (the Préfecture is brutal.) Some read, or drink, or shop. Frank walked Parker, their Boston terrier, and ate pâtisseries for a year. He ate tropéziennes, mille-feuille and tarte tatin. He delighted in Mont Blanc, Paris-Brest and clafoutis. Parker helped, as dogs do, by starting conversations with strangers and keeping Frank moving so that diabetes didn’t set in.
It was all delicious, but he needed something familiar to eat. Frank decided to bake. His mother had baked a lot— lemon bars, bundts and brownies. He googled recipes, watched YouTube videos, bought basic equipment, and started baking. His cakes started out humble, but they quickly improved, thanks to his artistic eye and the bounty of baking resources in France. He posted his photos on the then brand-new platform called Instagram. People far and near liked and followed. He often invited new friends that Parker had introduced him to home for l‘heure du goûter, the French late-afternoon snack time.
One of those friends owned a cafe. He asked Frank to bake something for his cafe on a Saturday, just to have something unique to serve. Frank obliged, posting a photo of his lemon-raspberry drizzle cake on Instagram. Lo and behold, people showed up. Other cafe owners noticed and asked Frank to make them cakes and publicize it through Instagram. He did, investing in boxes, string, cream and flour. Frank’s cakes became even prettier, with edible flowers, seasonal fruits and lots of French butter.
However, this wasn’t a sustainable business model. It had become an expensive hobby, with all the ingredients, time, and packaging.
Around that time, one of those goûter friends, a photographer, asked Frank and James if she could use their apartment to host a photography workshop. Their light-filled Marais apartment made it hard to take a bad picture.
Wheels began to turn in Frank’s head. A lovely apartment with a well-equipped kitchen, a talent for cake baking, a far-flung Instagram fan club. He decided to offer cake decorating classes in his home, including a vast array of frostings, piping tools, cake stands, and florals. People came to decorate cakes and finish with un goûter.
That puts Frank in Paris with cakes, but how did the book deal come about?
One day he got an email. I’m a New York literary agent, specializing in cookbooks. I‘ve been following you on Instagram. Have you thought about writing a book?
The thought of writing a cookbook hadn’t crossed Frank’s mind. Anyway, it was probably spam, he wagered.
Two weeks later, he got another email. Same agent, asking if he’d had a chance to consider her proposal. Curiosity got the better of him and he agreed to speak to her. They instantly connected over their mutual love of buttercream and Paris. A book proposal was born. It was well-received amongst the publishing houses of New York. He ultimately decided HarperCollins was the best fit.
Two and a half years later, Voilà, Frank is now a published author. An American living the ex-pat dream in Paris. Somewhere along the way, he got auto-entrepreneur status, jumping through all the hoops the fonctionnaires at the Préfecture set for him, filling out his dossier, crying a little at the hard parts and the successful outcome.
Sweet Paris is a collection of seasonal recipes such as Lavender Honey Madeleines for summer and his special White Chocolate & Cassis Bûche de Nöel for winter. It also has Frank’s best tips for hosting Paris-style.
Nothing in Frank’s life pointed to this moment, to the launch of his cookbook in Paris. Or did it?
An eye for design, a cute dog, a mother who baked, a job transfer, a season of homesickness and boredom, and Instagram.
Actually, everything in Frank’s life pointed to this moment.
Frank’s favorite things in Paris
Pierre Hermé. Try his signature “Ispahan” croissant. I love everything Mori Yoshida creates but especially his fraisier which is currently in season for spring!
This constantly changes but right now I’m loving the food and views from the recently opened “Le Tout- Paris” at Cheval Blanc.
The first arrondissement around Palais Royal and Rue Saint Anne. I love exploring the Japanese quarter and picking up an onigiri and matcha latte to enjoy in the garden of the Palais Royal.
Life in France vs. in the USA
The proximity to all the other wonderful European cities. A weekend in Amsterdam, London, or Venice is easily within reach when you live in Paris!
You can order Sweet Paris on Amazon or look for it in bookstores.
- Curious about life as a pastry chef?
- The perfect tool for cooking at home
- Practicing pastry in the City of Light
Written by Yvonne Hazelton for HiP Paris. Looking to travel? Check out Plum Guide and our Marketplace for fabulous vacation rentals in Paris, France or Italy. Looking to rent long or short term, or buy in France? Ask us! We can connect you to our trusted providers for amazing service and rates or click here. Looking to bring France home to you or to learn online or in person? Check out our marketplace shop and experiences.