Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

AMERICA'S BEST

Confessions of a Mail Madeleine

November 10, 1994|KATHIE JENKINS

Don Morris doesn't own a television. He hasn't set foot in a restaurant in years. And the only newspaper he reads is the Patterson Irrigator, a small-town paper out of California's Central Valley. The guy is so stuck in his ways, he's been making the same cookies over and over and over . . . for 18 years.

Morris and his wife, Susan, make madeleines, those shell-shaped, buttery French delicacies that Proust soaked in lime-blossom tea only to unleash seven volumes of memories.

First, the Morrises made them in their kitchen and sold them locally at Berkeley's now-defunct Pig-by-the-Tail, the first authentic French charcuterie in the area. When word got around how great they were, the couple was forced to rent a commercial kitchen. They began selling to Balducci's in New York, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and cafes and coffee shops around the country under the Donsuemor Madeleines label. The company now turns out more than 80,000 cookies a week (Starbucks alone buys 20,000 weekly).

"Even though my tax forms say baker , I don't think of myself as one," says Morris, who previously sold hand-painted A-line skirts to I. Magnin. "I don't think of myself as an entrepreneur , either. That seems to imply people who do fancy things. I identify more with tinkerer , because I kind of tinker around with equipment and stuff and try to figure out how to do things more efficiently."

Donsuemor Madeleines contain only five ingredients: sugar, butter, flour, eggs and flavoring, which Morris refuses to identify. The company recently began dipping some of the madeleines in chocolate. "Two of my managers got together and started doing it," says Morris. "I won't say that it was done totally behind my back. I told them, 'Do what you want,' but I'm ambivalent about it."

Then, Morris can't see what all the fuss is about anyway. "For me," he says, "Madeleines have always been a take-it-or-leave-it kind of thing."

*

These days, unleashing memories does not come cheap. At Starbucks, Donsuemor Madeleines cost 90 cents apiece. The best way to buy them is by the dozen for $4.59 at Vicente Food, 12027 San Vicente Blvd., Brentwood, (310) 472-5215. Or they can be ordered by the caseload from the company. Fresh madeleines keep nicely for about a week when stored in an airtight container, or they can be frozen for extended periods with no loss of flavor.

*

Donsuemor Madeleines

836 Cragmont Ave.

Berkeley, Calif. 94708

(510) 527-1446

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|