Ludovic Bezy and Anita Wheeler-Bezy will hold the grand opening of La Baguette on Saturday, Feb. 11
It might be imagined that Chef Ludovic Bezy’s mother is responsible for Dover residents being able to enjoy genuine French cooking.
“My mother was a teacher, a chef, and I wasn’t very good at school, except for drawing and just about anything artistic,” Ludovic recalled. “She said to me, ‘Why don’t you cook? You like food, so why not?’”
Madame Bezy’s suggestion will be fully realized Saturday, Feb. 11, as Ludovic and his wife, Anita Wheeler-Bezy, hold the grand opening of La Baguette, their new bakery and catering service.
Situated at the former Frankfurt Bakery at 323 S. Governors Ave., La Baguette will feature French breads, pastry, muffins, sandwiches and cupcakes, as well as soups, salads and meals to-go.
Ludovic will handle the baking chores along with pastry chef and Del Tech grad Erin Esken, and Anita will tap into her degree in hospitality management to handle the business side of the enterprise.
“I’ve got a lot of front-of-the-house skills,” she said. “People always have said we work well together as a team.”
The team of Ludovic and Anita began more than 25 years ago when her father was stationed in France and Germany with the US Air Force.
“We just happened upon each other when we were 18,” she said.
Ludovic graduated from culinary school in the Champagne region of France, and worked in numerous restaurants there, in the French Alps and on the French Riviera.
They were married in 1990, and Ludovic came to the United States in 1993.
Moving to Delaware, Ludovic’s first culinary job was at the former Dinner Bell Inn, where, he admits, it took some time to adjust to American tastes.
“When I first started, it was such a shock with the culture and the food, from there to here,” Ludovic said. “I felt like I’d gone back in time.”
With the advent of the Internet and more opportunities to expand their gastronomic horizons, American tastes have become a bit more refined over the past quarter-century, he said.
Ludovic moved on to become sous chef at the Garden Café at the Dover Downs Hotel and Casino, and in 2010 was hired as chef de cuisine at Michele’s Restaurant at the casino. While there, they founded the ongoing Chef’s Table experience, where Ludovic prepares a three-course meal for their guests.
That venture helped them realize something like La Baguette could become a reality.
“People were saying, why don’t you open a restaurant where we can have this every day,” Anita said. “We tried for a couple of years but we could not find anything we liked or a location we wanted.”
That opportunity opened when the Frankfurt Bakery closed.
Everything at La Baguette will be freshly made, Ludovic said, including puff pastry, Danishes and croissants created on a new dough sheeting machine.
“I can’t put my name on something I haven’t made here,” Ludovic said. “When people have a croissant from here, I know that there’s nowhere else they can get the same one.”
The couple believe customers will appreciate the fact La Baguette also will be open six days a week.
“I believe people need a bakery on the weekend,” Ludovic said. “That makes sense. I like sunny mornings with a nice breakfast and a nice pastry. I think it’s very important.”
While running La Baguette, Ludovic and Anita will continue their efforts on behalf of Chef’s Fight for the Heart, which they started in 2011 after Ludovic’s brother died of a massive heart attack. Working with the American Heart Association, they feel it’s a means of teaching others the benefits of healthy eating.
“It’s a good way to change people and people’s minds to tell them they have options about what they can eat,” Ludovic said. “For me, eating is the key to staying healthy.”
With that in mind, in addition to the traditional breads, pies and tarts, La Baguette customers will have alternate choices.
“We’re offering healthy stuff, too,” Ludovic said. “Everything is balanced, you don’t want to go just one way or another way. You need to have balance in your life.”
The couple anticipates becoming a real fixture of Downtown Dover.
“We’re really looking forward to working with businesses, local farmers and the local economy,” Anita said. “We’ve worked in the community for many years now, and now that we’re downtown, we can have some fun.”