.Preligen Manaois Brings Gallic Baked Goods to San Jose

At Preligen Manaois’ eponymously named bakery, the owner is a serious multitasker. Six days a week, Manaois arrives at Preligen Artisan Bakery by 3am. He begins the day by proofing croissant dough, which takes two to three hours.

By 5am, he starts baking a long list of pastries including almond and chocolate croissants, muffins, scones and danishes. When the doors open at 7am, Manaois himself greets customers, takes their orders and makes the espresso drinks. Although his cousin is helping him out behind-the-scenes with social media posts.

“I love doing and learning everything,” Manaois explained in a phone interview. “Like being a barista—I’ve never ever done this before.” He started Chromatic Coffee’s certification program to absorb the local San Jose roaster’s approach. From weighing the coffee grounds to calibrating the espresso machine, it’s been an eye-opening process for the baker.

In addition to Viennoiserie, or French yeast pastries, the Preligen menu features entremets, petit-fours and petits-gateaux—some of which come in jars, others in domes such as a chocolate sponge cake with a dark chocolate raspberry mousse and vanilla filling.

“Anything in the display case, I keep for a maximum of two days,” Manaois said. “I make enough for the day and if I run out, I run out just so they’re fresh.” However, for now he’s holding off on baking petit-fours, those bite-sized pastries such as macaroons, financiers and madeleines. “When I’m busy enough in the afternoon, I will start serving them,” he said.

Manaois may be new to making lattes but he’s been in the culinary industry for over 20 years. He graduated from the California Culinary Academy in 2000 before landing in Las Vegas to learn the fine art of pastry making from Patrice Caillot. At the time, Caillot was the executive pastry chef at the Bellagio’s Le Cirque and Osteria Del Circo (which has since closed).

GÂTEAUX DÉLICIEUX Cakes in jars and domes and even entremets can be found at Manaois’s shop. Photos: Preligen Artisan Bakery.

“Caillot is top notch, a real perfectionist,” Manaois said. “To work under somebody that has that drive and work ethic — I learned that from him.” But after five years in Las Vegas, Manaois’ father died so he decided to move back to the Bay Area to be near his family. “I also went to school at the San Francisco Baking Institute,” he said. While studying there, he learned more about making bread and laminating breakfast pastries.

Before Manaois opened his bakery in May, he’d been working at Marvell Technology in Santa Clara for 17 years. While there, he started a pastry program and later became an executive chef. But throughout his career in corporate dining, Manaois wanted to be his own boss. A former employer encouraged him to use his catering kitchen as a starting place but Manaois wanted to have his own brick and mortar.

ON DUTY Preligen Manaois arrives at work by 3am to begin working the dough for the day’s pastries.

After nearly a year sussing out different locations in Silicon Valley, in February the chef signed a lease on a spot in Willow Glen that was formerly a Guatemalan bakery. Running Preligen Artisan Bakery on his own for the past month hasn’t felt like a job to Manaois. “Because this is my own business, I just enjoy everything there is to do,” he said. “There’s a pride that business owners have and I understand that now.”

Preligen Artisan Bakery, open Mon to Sat 7am–3pm, 1597-D Meridian Ave., San Jose. 669.267.9316. preligen.com.


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