When you think of baked goods in Columbia, Uprise Bakery and bleu probably come to mind. But there is a much smaller — okay, a one-person — bakery you should be considering. Julie Hutton, owner of Frenchy Treats, bridges the 4,000-mile gap between Columbia and France with authentic French pastries. Specializing in macarons and croissants, Hutton shares her delicacies at the Columbia Farmers Market and pop-ups at Plume, as well as through personalized orders. Baking practically runs in Hutton’s blood, but her professional career in the craft was born recently, here in Columbia.
Originally from Bordeaux, France, Hutton started to develop a love and appreciation for baking at a young age. “I grew up baking with my family,” she recalls. “Any occasion, we’d be baking.” Family favorites included Black Forests (la forêt noire), a chocolate cake traditionally composed of many layers divided by whipped cream and cherries, and meringues, which are sweet, crispy swirls with peaked centers, made of blended egg whites and sugar. “My favorite was meringue, and then as I grew older we started making macarons,” Hutton says.
Baking remained a hobby for Hutton but did not immediately become her career. Instead, she pursued political science, international business and law, later finding herself in the travel industry and hospitality. After traveling over the course of many years, Hutton lived in San Diego, Saint Martin and Miami before finally settling in Columbia in August of 2017. “[My husband and I] had never been to Missouri, so it was a leap of faith,” she explains.
At first, Hutton worked remotely for a travel agency, but she felt disconnected from the community of her new home. “I wanted to have something more local and meaningful, where I would get to know people,” she says. After a year and a half, she decided to quit and pursued baking instead. Thus, Frenchy Treats was born. “This is my first company,” Hutton says. “It’s a passion that I’m trying to turn into a business.” Without school-based training as a baker, Hutton attended classes to help perfect the techniques for trickier French treats, such as macarons.
Once the plan was hatched, it took a village to help make Frenchy Treats a reality. Hutton worked closely with those in the business licensing office in City Hall, as well as with the Missouri tax office, as she navigated the legal and fiscal issues of starting a business. “Everyone in this town is so patient and very helpful,” Hutton says. “I called the Missouri tax office maybe three times, and every time they made the whole experience a little bit less difficult. It’s such a maze.”
On top of learning the ins and outs of a start-up company, Hutton was doing so in English as her second language. However, her degree in international business and law proved useful. “Not being intimidated by all the red tape, I felt confident with enough research that I would do the right thing without tripping too much,” Hutton explains. Finally, her website was launched and Frenchy Treats was underway.
For Hutton, the learning process didn’t stop after the establishment of Frenchy Treats. Even though she grew up making what she sells today, she often re-evaluates and adjusts her recipes to bring them closer to perfection. “What I’m learning most is about the consistency in the production of baked goods,” Hutton explains. “High-quality, visually pleasing products are what I’m still working at and learning every day to make.”
Throughout her experience in the culinary world, Hutton racked up a few tips on tackling French recipes. “The key is simple recipes, simple ingredients but really high quality,” she shares. “If you can add less and buy better products, it’s going to be a great improvement of the taste of your food.” Access to a convection oven also plays a large role in the quality of Hutton’s baking.
Looking back on how far she has come with Frenchy Treats, Hutton believes the most rewarding experience so far has been the social aspect of it. “Working from home remotely, I didn’t know anyone, and it was the most frustrating thing,” Hutton recalls. “The most rewarding parts are the Columbia Farmers Market and delivering to people’s homes and getting to know people. I love to meet people and talk, and I’m talking about my favorite subject — food!”