The announcement on Facebook was as follows: ‘It is with heavy hearts and sadness, Patrick and I announce our departure from our “baby” Cassis Paris. We thank our loyal customers for their support and our staff for all their hard work and loyalty. Without you, Cassis would not exist. Sometimes, as with any bad relationship, you have no choice but to walk away. When your job and passion is your trade, reputation is everything’. There is no explanation as to the ominous last two sentences.
I have left a message at Cassis Paris, and the switchboard operator did not want to commit to any answers this afternoon.
The Cassis Paris website introduces the company as follows:
‘Through his wife Andrea, Patrick Moreau from France (Director and Master Pastry Chef) discovered South Africa and Cape Town. Sensing the changes and seeing a gap in the market for authentic French pastries and breads, Patrick took the decision to move with his family to Cape Town.
Sharing his vision with his friends, Ali Majeed Ghareeb and Alan Bradley, the three of them decided to set up the company French Oven (Pty) Ltd and created the retail arm of the business, Cassis Paris.
Ali Majeed Ghareeb from Kuwait (Director) is an entrepreneur with experience in setting up and developing businesses (telecommunications, internet services, etc). He has also for the past 20 years helped Lenotre to develop in the Middle-East and the Gulf. Majeed brings his creativity, flair, love of French food to this venture.
Alan Bradley, from South Africa (Director), a leading financial expert, comes from the corporate world. His vast experience in managing companies all over the world brings to French Oven the financial expertise and stability for a sound and successful business.
Born in Paris in 1965, Patrick Moreau, found his calling early in life, leaving home at the age of 15 years to pursue his passions for the culinary arts. He spent the next 27 years perfecting his skills to become a world-renowned and internationally recognized pastry chef. His skills took him to Morocco where he created the cake for the King Mohamed VI wedding and to the Winter Olympics in France where he was the Executive Pastry Chef. He worked the last few years setting up several patisseries/bakeries for the distinguished Lenotre franchise. His skills have taken him from the busy streets of Paris to London, Bangkok, Las Vegas, Beirut and many other exciting and exotic locations.
The magic behind the products, that make Cassis Paris the pastry leader in Cape Town, start at our production facility in Montague Gardens, Cape Town. Under the name French Oven, we offer an exciting range of wholesale products while satisfying the hungry display fridges of our retail stores, Cassis Paris. French Oven was built from the ground up for the specific needs of Cassis Paris and the wholesale range. Although the work is typically done by hand, some unique and highly specialized equipment needed to be imported from France in order to create the high quality products at the level you will find in the leading boutiques in Paris. Sourcing the best local ingredients where possible, and adding a few imported ones too, French Oven runs around the clock with a small team of dedicated staff. The staff, handpicked by master pastry chef Patrick Moreau and from all walks of life and different backgrounds, work all hours perfecting the skills they are learning under his watchful eye‘.
We will update this blogpost as soon as we receive further information.
POSTSCRIPT 10/12: Patrick Moreau kindly called back this morning, filling me in on the reasons for his and his wife’s departure from Cassis on 20 December. They have been in a partnership with two others (as above), and the seven-year relationship has broken down irretrievably, despite every effort that they have made to repair it. ‘There is no way back’, Patrick said. They can no longer work under the conditions created as a result of the breakdown, and they had to make the very difficult decision to resign. Leaving their 60 staff is the hardest part, as they all helped to grow the business with him. They have not been informed of what will happen after their departure, but partner Alan Bradley will be fully in charge, and they have heard that a new chef will take over in January, but do not know who has been appointed. As Patrick has been the face of the company, he is now distancing himself from all decision-making for the next ten days. He and his wife are focusing on their staff, to make the transition for them as easy as possible. Patrick says he is a professional, and prides himself on his work ethic, giving his best until the last day. They tried to mediate a solution, but were told that they are no longer needed. Patrick and Andrea wish the brand and the company the best for the future, particularly as he remains a shareholder of the company. He is proud that he has been the only one to make it in the pastry field in this country, and that he won Cap 40 Best Entrepreneur 2014 a few days ago.
Patrick has no concrete plans for the future, saying he needs to take a break. This has been a tough year for him, losing both his parents, and now his ‘baby’. He needs to earn a living, and needs to look after his wife and children. If there is a restraint of trade, it would be so broad that it would not prevent him from doing something similar in the pastry field. He reiterated that he holds no grudges towards the other two partners, and wishes them well.