Hello! Who are you and what food business did you start?
Hello, My name is Christy-Jae (C.J) Cheyne and I’m the owner and executive pastry chef of Oui.
As a kid I explored in the kitchen by helping my mom out by making cakes and cookies for special occasions. I continued to explore by having friends come over and experimenting with any ingredients we could find mixing them together and of course tasting it!
To give you an idea one creation I can remember was nutella, peanut butter, cheerios, frosted flakes and milk! You would be surprised by what would be tasty and what was disgusting. In addition my dad was a simple cook and would prepare ready to go food for our meals.
I knew we could do better! As I grew up and took foods in high school it clicked! I want to be a chef!
I was fortunate enough to take multiple food classes and cook for my family to gain as much experience as I could. I went on to working at a bakery and golf course restaurant.
Both of these experience reassured my decision to become a chef and helped me to realize that I wanted to become a pastry chef. The reasons I decided a pastry chef is because you’re precise, creative, attentive to detail and get to experiment!
I took my big leap into the industry by attending The Culinary Institute of America in NY. I earned my associates degree in baking and pastry arts. I also earned my bachelor’s degree in Food and Beverage Management from New England Culinary Institute.
I have been fortunate enough to work in Michelin Star restaurants such as Daniel and The Modern. As well as Four Season Hotel, TWG, Independent restaurants. And lastly, I taught Pastry Arts.
Now as I embark on my next chapter as an executive pastry chef and business owner. I have operated Oui as a side business but now taking the full plunge. Oui is located in Old City Philadelphia. Our pastry shop features seasonal, daily rotating pastries and desserts.
Related Reading: How I Started a $75k/Month Vegan Cookie Business with My Mom
Why Philadelphia? Great question, I chose Philadelphia as the city is a huge food city that is growing and developing. They also don’t have any modern, upscale pastry shops which I hope to offer. Philadelphia is also close to NY where I previously worked but not as hussel bussel.
Old City offers the best of both worlds. It has a great community which appeals to those living there and also attracts tourists. Our typical client will be from 20-45 years old, up to date with social media and enjoys sweets.
We don’t have a set product but our concept is that we offer mainly sweet options! Our pastries consist of a dozen pastries half which are available everyday for a season (3 months).
Plus a daily rotating menu that will feature a new item each day. The daily item will reflect on what is happening in the city, food holiday, media etc. It will be what is relevant and in season. This will be the same for the dessert portion of the menu too.
By offering a seasonal menu allows us to use the best ingredients. In addition it allows us to change each item everyday to give our team the opportunity to keep up to date on technique, be creative and have no limits.
We hope to expand everyone’s horizons on flavor, cultures and technique. A frequent question I get asked is what is my specialty, or what do I like to make. I never have an answer and this concept just proves why!
What are your ballpark revenue numbers?
Our monthly ballpark revenue numbers are $26,000. Our goal is 1,000 dollars per day. The more the merrier!
We expect month such as February and August to be quieter as people are cutting back on spending and/or eating sugar and no major holidays in those months.
Overall we hope to reach around $310,000- $320,000 a year with continuous growth!
What’s your backstory and how did you come up with the idea to start a pastry shop?
A snapshot about me is a graduate from The Culinary Institute of America, worked in various Michelin star restaurants, 5 star hotels Four Seasons and created and taught pastry arts course.
This idea I have had for years and years. I remember being a kid telling my parents about how I want to open my own pastry shop and the concept. I have tweaked it but the main concept of high end pastries with a rotating menu is he main concept. When I am asked what is my favorite thing to make or my specialty. My answer is there is too many! I think everyone needs to expand their horizons and try something new!
I have spent most of my training in high end fine dining restaurants. Personally, I like the pace of restaurants and the artistic aspect that comes with plating. I also think desserts are a great way to play with flavors and techniques.
The concept is very unique and can be difficult for the staff to prepare and sell the items. But with social media we will be able to push the information, and keep the clients interested in our product.
Take us through the process of developing your menu.
Our menu is created with a fairly straightforward layout. We have a few different categories. First category is pastries. Pastries included two parts. Part on is the seasonal menu 6 pastries that are on for 3 months. This will include pastries such as croissants, muffins and scones.
Part two will be our daily rotating menu. Each day there will be a new item that will remain on the menu for approximately one week. It will follow the same principal of croissants, loaves, and scones.
Another category will be our dessert menu. Our dessert menu has the same structure as the pastry menu with 1 part seasonal and 2nd part daily rotating. Dessert profiles will be chocolate, dairy, fruit, cake, gluten free, and vegan. Plus, we will also have larger versions of some desserts to have for celebrations. Simple cake orders can be placed.
There will be packaged to go items available on the shelf of chocolates, cookies, and confections so you can grab an extra treat or give as gifts!
Lastly there is our beverage menu that will consist of coffee and non coffee drinks. We will have a few seasonal specials too!
I have worked on these recipes over the years as I have worked in various workplaces. As I have pursued opening my own pastry shop, I have spent countless hours finalizing the foundation recipes. A lot of trial and error, further research, and eating to find the perfect recipe!
We don’t have a specific product or brand at this time so no need to get any patents.
Describe the process of launching the business.
The launch of the business is a fun, exciting and very important part of the process. You are setting the stage for your concept. It’s the first imagine you expose to your clients. Such tasks include name, logo, colors, websites and social media accounts.
Creating such accounts is rewarding as you get to put your brand out there! Spread the word! For a website I used Squarespace as I had previously used it as a blog/home business before I pursued Oui. Squarespace is a user friendly website creator that has templates that you can choose from and customize to your needs. This platform makes it easy to link your website to email and social media accounts too.