Chez Marie will bring French pastries, desserts, an espresso bar and more to SouthPark.
by Cathy Martin
Maria Siragusa is a firm believer in trying new things. “Maybe you have an amazing talent,” that might otherwise go undiscovered, says the owner of Chez Marie, a French café and patisserie opening next month at Sharon Corners. Siragusa worked in design for seven years before she discovered her own passion for baking.
Siragusa studied design in Milan, then spent three years working in interior design in her native Ukraine and Switzerland. After moving to Miami in 2012, she switched to graphic design for three years, then continued as a freelancer after moving to Charlotte. She became interested in baking after making desserts for her daughter’s first birthday. “I stayed up until 4 a.m. baking and decorating that night, and since then never lost passion for it — just a desire to learn more techniques and develop new recipes,” says the mother of two.
After three years running Eclairesse, an online dessert business focused mainly on eclairs, Siragusa is looking to share her passion for baking — specifically, French pastries — with a bigger audience.
“[French pastry chefs] are the best, they are the innovators,” says Siragusa, who studied her craft in France and Ukraine after taking classes locally at PreGel. The international dessert-ingredients manufacturer offers culinary training for aspiring dessert and pastry chefs at its Concord facility.
“It was like my inner calling,” says Siragusa, who co-owns midtown’s Pizzeria Omaggio with her husband, Daniel. It helped that she had studied French language for 10 years while growing up, which made learning easier.
When it opens in early April in the former Gigi’s Cupcakes location, Chez Marie will offer desserts (eclairs, profiteroles, tarts, madeleines) and breads (baguettes and sourdough) with an assortment of flavored butters, along with puff-pastry specialties including croissants and more.
The space, previously designed for carryout, has been reconfigured to make room for more seating, and outdoor seating will also be available. In addition to pastries, guests can order from a small menu of salads, sandwiches and crepes, along with espresso, tea, wine and champagne. The café will have a catering menu for weddings and other events, along with custom desserts such as St. Honore cakes and Croquembouche, the French dessert of profiteroles and caramelized sugar. SP
Chez Marie will be open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. five days a week. 4732 Sharon Rd., chezmarieclt.com