: | The French Pastry School


New bake shop a sweet addition to Whitefish
Daily Inter Lake |
May 1, 2017

Whitney Brien remembers baking cookies with her family every year around Christmastime. They would have a ‘cookie day’ — an entire day to bake for their friends and family.

“A big part of my love for baking was having that [cookie day] every year,” Brien said.

She and her sister, Phoebe Connybear, remember always having home cooked meals growing up — another big influence in her love for baking.

“We cooked and baked all the time,” said her stepmother, Elizabeth Brien. “But she has far surpassed me.”

Elizabeth describes her stepdaughter as a “very talented, very particular pastry chef,” adding that she’s always aiming for “perfection.”

Though Brien grew up with home cooked meals and holidays filled with cookies and other baked goods, it wasn’t until college that she started thinking about baking as a profession. She was going to school in Bozeman for photography and working at the Community Food Co-op when she started baking professionally for the first time. She realized it was something she wanted to keep doing, and dreamed of someday owning her own bake shop.

She switched gears and later moved to Chicago where she attended the French Pastry School, graduating in 2012 from the L’Art du Gâteau program, specializing in baking and decorating cakes. She began her career as a pastry chef, first in Colorado and then in Oregon, before coming full circle back to Montana.

On Saturday, Brien’s dream of owning her own bake shop came true as she hosted the grand opening for Fleur Bake Shop in Whitefish.

Brien, originally from Michigan, had been working as a pastry chef in Portland when she came back to visit Whitefish last summer. Something clicked.

“It hit me that this was the time and this was the place,” Brien said.

She had been looking for an opportunity to return to Montana.

“I was looking for a smaller community, someplace outdoorsy and somewhere where I could get to know people,” Brien said. “I chose Whitefish, and I’m 100 percent comfortable with that decision.”

Fleur Bake Shop is at the back of what used to be the old Dairy Queen on Spokane Avenue. Lakestream Fly Shop moved into the front portion of the renovated building this spring.

“I heard from a couple people that Justin, the fly shop owner, was looking for someone who cooked or baked to fill the [kitchen] space in the back,” Brien said.

The kitchen was the perfect size, she said, and in February she started work on her new shop.

Her parents came from Red Lodge and her sister from Chicago to help her through the opening weekend. On Friday they had a soft opening, with a small selection of pastries before opening on Saturday with a full case.

Brien said that though cakes are her favorite to make and decorate, the Canelé is her favorite to eat and “to admire.” Canelés are a French pastry with a custard center and a caramelized crust. Those and the cardamom orange zest morning buns were the biggest hit at the grand opening on Saturday, Brien said.

Her menu also features cookies, chocolate cherry brioche buns, mini madeleines, tarts, cakes and other french pastries. She also has an olive and rosemary focaccia bread, and says she is considering expanding to make other breads as well. She has also included three gluten-free items on her menu.

Brien prides herself on sourcing ingredients locally. The spelt flour she uses is locally milled and comes from Wicked Good farm, while she buys local flowers from Earthstar Farm Whitefish to decorate her cakes with. And to complement her baked goods, she sells coffee from Montana Coffee Traders.

She hopes to add an outdoor seating area during the summer, and also plans on being in the Whitefish Farmers Market.

Fleur Bake Shop is open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday through Tuesday, and is located at 669 Spokane Ave. Suite B in Whitefish. For more information, visit http://fleurbakeshop.com/.

Reporter Alyssa Gray may be reached at 758-4433 or agray@dailyinterlake.com.