There are few culinary identities as iconic as Ladurée.
Born on Paris’ rue Royale in 1862, what first commenced as a pastry destination became, in the coming decades, one of the most recognizable attributes of the amassing French cafe culture and scene, where high society spent its time and France’s esteemed culinary traditions were refined and made famous.
In the mid-20th century, though, is when the inimitable Ladurée macaron debuted, and since that special moment, the brand’s iconic status has only scaled, satiated, and scintillated culture from across the world.
Now, however, marks a new chapter in the storied history of the original macaron purveyor. Enter Eugénie, the latest twist in the delicious offerings of the brand—"a crunchy biscuit with a melting heart and chunky chocolate coating", according to her press release, "taking gourmet audacity a step further." Named after Empress Eugenie, patron of the arts, the new delight is harkening a golden era of Paris, where the city cemented itself as a world-renowned nexus of culture for generations to come. And it's insanely delicious.
I spoke with Elisabeth Holder, President and Innovation Director of Ladurée US, whose family acquired the brand in the mid-90s. We catch up about Eugénie, the ethos of the brand she knows dearly, and what will no doubt be an impactful foot forward for Ladurée, who enjoys outposts in NYC, LA, Miami and DC here in the US…with more expansion on the way and no doubt top of mind.
The world is increasingly fast-paced. From the Ladurée perspective, why is it important to slow down and enjoy life?
It is very important to be in the present moment. Time will slow down a little and you will be happier and healthier.
I love to take the time to enjoy a good meal, thoroughly enjoying the quality of the food someone took the time to prepare and appreciating the conversation around the table.
If you are by yourself, put down your screen and call someone you love, read a book, or take some deep breaths.
Eugénie has arrived! Beyond her flavor and composition, how would you describe her attitude?
She is Parisian, chic, and full of surprises.
In reflecting on the origin story of Ladurée, the brand has long intersected alongside monumental advancements in feminism. Now you have Eugenie, named after Empress Eugenie, who of course influenced the Opera Garnier, integral to the Laduree origin story. As a female CEO, why is celebrating powerful female figures and feminism important to Laduree?
Jeanne Suchard was the one who suggested to her husband Louis-Ernest Ladurée to convert Ladurée’s familial bakery into a tea room. Then in the 20th century, the decorator Madeleine Castaing inspired us in monumental ways. Our clientele is predominantly feminine from generation to generation…so all in all, Ladurée truly is all about supporting women.
Laduree has enjoyed an amazing expansion in recent years in the US. What has been challenging about the process? What has been a pleasant surprise?
Our challenge is to be American in the way we work and develop while staying French in our brand identity and with our product offerings.
The US market is very challenging and interesting. I still learn a lot each day and it forces me to step out of my comfort zone.
When do you feel a project is truly complete?
If it is a new store, the day of the opening. If it is a new collection, when we sell out of the very last box.
What is ideal music for the Laduree tea room experience?
French classical, romantic music. The playlists at our French and American stores are synced.
We never tried it before but I think opera music could be nice.
The notion of Eugenie’s “melting heart” conjures sentiments of passion and love. Would you agree? Are these extensions of the Eugenie experience?
Absolutely. Well said!
What is something you have learned about yourself through these recent challenging years?
To trust my instinct and that nothing is impossible. Not very French…I know.