For Maria Siragusa, her life experiences prepared the perfect path to open her own café and patisserie, Chez Marie. Growing up in Ukraine, she learned to cook from her mom. Her design studies took her to Milan, and then on to Ukraine, Switzerland and Miami for jobs in interior and graphic design. She and husband Daniel landed in Charlotte seven years ago, opening Pizzeria Omaggio.
Her passion for baking followed her daughter’s first birthday, when Siragusa experimented with homemade desserts with less sugar. That led to dessert and pastry classes in the United States and Europe, some online training and an online dessert business.
“I love hands-on work, whether it’s piping an éclair or stretching and folding a piece of bread,” Siragusa says. “It’s like modeling in design. I can’t wait to see where it ends up. There is a sense of perfection that distinguishes our desserts.”
Siragusa and her staff make everything from scratch at Chez Marie, offering exquisite desserts (eclairs, profiteroles, tarts and madeleines), breads with an assortment of flavored butters, and puff-pastry specialties like croissants. Guests can also order from a small menu of salads, sandwiches and crepes, along with espresso, tea, wine and champagne. The café has a catering menu for weddings and events, with plans to sell seasonal desserts and gift baskets.
The beautiful, wood-paneled interior, along with cozy outdoor seating, provides the perfect backdrop for international ambiance. “People relate a place and experience to taste,” Siragusa says. “We hope our desserts inspire people to come back often and discover new things.”