At Chez Bogato, the name says it all (“Bogato” is pronounced like beaux gâteaux, meaning “handsome cakes”). Everything in this charming Paris patisserie adds to its main draw—which is some of the most creative cakes in town. You’ll see cooking tools, toys, recipe books and gifts, both for cooks and everyone in their families. The irresistible draw, however, is a range of treats that are miniversions of the shop’s grandest offerings.
Often, the retro dinette tables here are surrounded by shrieks, indicating there are kids in the kitchen. This is because Bogato runs classes for both adults and children. Or you might see an intent young pâtissière finishing off one of the singular wedding cakes—perhaps a tower of bold stripes topped with a giant bow. Everywhere, the eye alights on what French Elle calls “gâteaux girlies.” Cakes in Paris rarely seem this relaxed . . . or this feminine.
Bogato’s founder-owner Anaïs Olmer, 36, agrees. Most Parisian pastry chefs, she notes, are male. Olmer prefers a feminine touch and likes to hire women. She feels they are more sensitive to design, to finish and to the quality she describes—in English—as “homemade.”
Her cakes are modeled on those of her mother, treats her father would then turn into fantasies like blue whales or snow-covered forests. Inheriting her creativity from both parents, Olmer studied graphic design from the age of 22. Until seven years ago, that was her profession and she was artistic director at a Paris publicity firm.
However, during “thousands of meetings and hours in front of a Macintosh,” she persistently dreamed about a change of vocation. It was while expecting her second child she finally took the plunge. During that nine months, Olmer gained her CAP (Certificat d’Aptitude Professionnelle) in la pâtisserie. Then, with support from her husband and family, she opened Chez Bogato.
Two years later, she runs a whimsical wonderland. In addition to the cookies and cupcakes on display, it produces cakes that resemble giant châteaux, bottles of Chanel perfume and edible Ferraris. In one respect, however, all this art is down-to-earth: everything is made in-house using no additives, preservatives or refined sugars.
One of Bogato’s popular services is that of traiteur, meaning it can customize every part of a celebration, festivities that can range from a baptism to a book launch. Among its regular clients for this service are names like Jean-Paul Gaultier, Le Bon Marché, Lacoste, Colette, Chanel and the Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art.
Yet Olmer, a mother of two, insists the most important cakes in Paris are still those cakes that celebrate birthdays. With the publication of her first book, she has done her bit to put fresh magic into that ritual. Called Le Gâteau d’Anniversaire, Dix Façons de le Préparer (The Birthday Cake: Ten Ways to Make It; price: 6.50 euros), this slim volume comes from the little press Editions de l’Epure.
Visit Chez Bogato anytime from Tuesday through Saturday, between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Inside the welcoming walls at 7, rue Liancourt (in the 14th Arrondissement), every day is always somebody’s birthday.
At the age of 35, ubiquitous frozen grocer Picard (just voted the favorite brand in Paris in Le Parisien), hired Anaïs Olmer to design a cake for its own birthday. She rose to the occasion, as you can see in this Picard video.
Chez Bogato’s address is only a stroll away from either the Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art or the Cemetery of Montparnasse. Either makes a great outing after which you can reward yourself. Recommended is Bogato’s cupcake Bambi (chocolate and pistachio), the cupcake d’amour (strawberry icing scattered with hearts made from sweet beetroot) or a cupcake de la carotte.
Tags: 14th Arrondissement, Anaïs Olmer, birthdays, cakes, Chez Bogato, cupcakes, Cynthia Rose, dining, France, Le Gâteau d'Anniversaire: Dix Façons de le Préparer, Paris, pastries, patisseries, travel