Two Detroit businesses serve food and sounds from around the globe under one roof
Located within multi-faceted art space Trinosophes, Warda Patisserie brings together flavors of Algeria, France and Michigan
Warda Bouguettaya talks about using Michigan produce for her baked creations with such passion you can almost taste the fresh, seasonal bounty.
A self-described "complete nerd" when it comes to pastries, Bouguettaya has been cooking and baking in Detroit for a while, and in November her business Warda Patisserie joined forces with established art space and music venue Trinosophes just outside Eastern Market on Gratiot.
Bouguettaya was born and raised in Algeria, studied in France, and lived in Detroit before and after a three year stint in Shanghai. Her food reflects the techniques and ingredients of her native North Africa and Europe, but she's most excited about using ingredients native to Michigan.
A great example of this is her financiers. These petite round almond cakes are French, but she uses flavors like mango, chocolate, blueberry and even a matcha tea cake with a smooth, tart Michigan strawberry ganache in the center.
"I wanted a place where I can celebrate all of these places while still celebrating local produce and Michigan-grown produce," she said, adding that it's "local pastries, but without borders."
The cuisine at Warda Patisserie is largely vegetarian, with some vegan items and several that are gluten-free.
She and her all-female team produce breakfast, lunch and brunch items to compliment the venue's coffee service and small breakfast menu. She keeps the staff small to ensure quality control and uniformity in the food, which changes with the season and includes hearty slices of quiche, fresh and colorful rice salad, crepes, tarts, tortas and makroudh (a North African pastry).
For Saturday's brunch service, her husband, Mohammad Bouguettaya, contributes some Algerian sourdough pancakes with honey and butter sauce, a secret recipe he won't share with anyone.
"It's his specialty," says Warda, adding that they serve Parisian-style flan on the weekends as well.
Bouguettaya uses kale from Fish Eye Farms, strawberries from Ann Arbor's Slow Farm and 'shrooms, which she describes as "gorgeous," from the Mushroom Factory in Detroit. She says her quiche is like a vehicle of the season, starting with leeks last fall, then asparagus and now showcasing zucchini.
Warda Bouguettaya has taken over most of the food service at Trinosophes (pronounced TREE-no-sofe), which still serves the coffee beverages and some long-standing food items like organic muesli and their popular breakfast sandwich on a buttermilk biscuit. Like Warda's menu, the small Trinosophes menu is also completely made in-house.
There are separate point-of-sales for each business, and because everything is seasonal and made from scratch, availability of certain items may vary from day to day. Take a beat when entering the cafe and feel free to ask questions about what is on the menu and where to pay for each item.
Both Trinosophes and Warda Patisserie offer food and arts through an international lens.
Trinosophes is owned by muti-faceted creatives Rebecca Mazzei and Joel Peterson. Since opening in 2011 they've hosted live music from every continent except Antarctica. Next month on Aug. 16 they will host Mauritanian musician Noura Mint Seymali and in September sister-fronted group Les Filles de Illighadad will bring Tuareg music from Niger.
Within their spacious venue they have a stage, library, a variety of cafe-style seating, a food counter, coffee shop and a full kitchen. They also play landlord to local institution Peoples Records, which sells music that's come out of the city during the past several decades and is considered to be one of the best vinyl shops in the country.
Since it did come with a full kitchen, Peterson and Mazzei have tried to put it to good use in a way that makes sense for the space. They say Bouguettaya's diverse influence and artistic approach to her food is a great match for Trinosophes.
"We've had this succession of really amazing people doing food here and Warda's kind of like this person that we felt would really kind of maintain the level or possibly improve on it," said Peterson. "She fits into the mix of the identity of the place really well."
Mazzei says at Trinosophes (which roughly means "three-fold wisdom") they balance between being a creative hub and operating as a business.
"One of the keystones of being an art space means that you evolve in a way that consumer culture doesn't really allow," she said. "Everyone wants everything to be standard and they want to get the same thing every day and to a certain degree, yes, we do take business seriously but it's also important to kind of be really responsive and adaptive to change as Detroit changes.
"What we really wanted to do with Warda is something different because there are a bunch of cafes that kind of echo each other in terms of what they serve and how they serve it ... she has a very unique, multicultural approach," said Mazzei.
With Bouguettaya taking charge of much of the food service at Trinosophes the past few months, it has freed the owners up for other projects. Mazzei's new publishing imprint is releasing a book by literary artist Lynn Crawford this winter. It is a detective novel with a conversation of visual art weaved within.
Peterson started a record label, Two Rooms Records, which is a collaboration between him and Sam Hooker of Peoples Records.
Warda Patisserie open and serving 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Tues.-Sat. Trinosophes is open later and hours may vary based on events. Both are located at 1464 Gratiot in Detroit. Visit squareup.com/store/warda-patisserie and trinosophes.com for more details.