Cooking and family are synonymous for Gigi Wielezynski, who grew up in France. Her formidable early baking chops passed from “blood to blood,” as generations of kitchen knowledge were handed down to Gigi from both mother and grand-mere.
The family tradition persevered after she and husband Stan emigrated to America and eventually opened the first La Chatelaine a couple of decades ago. Today, all three terrific and versatile La Chatelaines (they’re bakery/all-day restaurant/beer-and-wine bistro triple threats) are owned and operated by the abundant progeny of Gigi and Stan — many of whom are chefs.
The recipe for Wielezynski’s country pies predates her professional career. Basically a custardy riff on the kind of home baking done in France, Wielezynski developed them while bored with and dissatisfied by the overly sweet pastries commonly popular in her adopted nation. When even Wielezynski’s American neighbors later expressed love for these fetching confections, she figured she had a hit on her hands that might even someday be available in her own bakery.
La Chatelaine’s crowd-pleasing, fruit-loaded country pies are sumptuous things. Using a smooth and thickish sugar dough crust as a malleable base, their pretty exterior sheen and alluring interplay between chunky fruit and eggy striations make them as joyous to look at as they are to eat.
Photos by Alysia Burton