Soraiya Nagree, a former chemical engineer, followed her dream to open La Pâtisserie, a beloved boutique featuring French macarons and pastries.
By Mikaila Rushing, Photos courtesy of Happy Day Media
Set foot into La Pâtisserie and the quaint, cozy and subtle French atmosphere is first to greet you. The worn hardwood floors conjure an approachable, come-as-you-are feeling, as though you are being ushered into someone’s home. And that is exactly what owner, macaron expert and pastry queen Soraiya Nagree intends.
“It’s our home. We open up our home to you and we want you to come and stay and enjoy,” Nagree says of the dessert-focused shop.
Nagree has loved baking since she was a young girl growing up in Weatherford, Texas. Her love of macarons, though, stemmed, she says, from a trip she took to Paris when she was just 10 years old. She sat down at Ladurée, a luxury bakery that dates back to 1862, and had her first rose macaron.
When it came time to choose a career path, Nagree decided to pursue a degree in chemical engineering from Trinity University, and went into the business of chemically engineering bowling balls after graduation. It wasn’t until further down the road that Nagree decided she would pursue her passion in baking, going back to school to earn a culinary-arts degree. In 2006, she started her own luxury bakery, Luxe Sweets, to deliver her baked goods throughout Austin.
“It was a lot of mixing chemicals and creating color patterns,” Nagree says of her chemical engineering days. “I always tell people that I basically went from mixing poisonous chemicals to edible chemicals.”
In 2010, after four years of slowly growing awareness for her sweets brand, Nagree’s husband came across a little house on Annie Street in South Austin and immediately knew it would be his wife’s dream storefront. Nagree bought the house, added some much-needed TLC and turned it into La Pâtisserie. With the name change came a stronger focus on promoting macarons as the shop’s main pastry.
Now a happy mother of three with an expanding business and a loyal clientele and staff, Nagree opened a new location of La Pâtisserie on Burnet Road in 2016. While the second location is smaller and offers more grab-and-go options than the mothership location on Annie Street, Nagree does everything she can to make sure everyone who walks in the door feels as though they’re a part of the family.
“My rule for staff is that you treat the person who comes in for a cup of water the same as a person who’s doing a $1,000 wedding,” Nagree says.
The most popular menu items at La Pâtisserie tend to be the salted caramel, espresso and chocolate macarons. For Valentine’s Day celebrations, Nagree says the shop will sell strawberry-Champagne macarons, as well as conversation-heart macarons.