Marc Heu Patisserie Paris: A place for Hmong grandmas to shy teenagers

Hmong pastry chef Marc Heu wants to share his love of French pastries with new audiences

Two people sit together on a couch
Gaosong Heu (left) and Marc Heu (right) own and operate Marc Heu Patisserie Paris, which reopened in St. Paul's Summit-University neighborhood on May 20.
Dymanh Chhoun | Sahan Journal

This story comes to you from Sahan Journal through a partnership with MPR News.

Alfonzo Galvan | Sahan Journal

From Hmong grandmas to teenagers too intimidated to ask questions, Marc and Gaosong Heu have seen it all. The majority of their clientele didn’t grow up eating French pastries.

There’s a misconception that French food and pastries are “fancy” or only for the “elite,” said Marc Heu, who has set out to offer top-level flavor while maintaining an affordable price at Marc Heu Patisserie Paris, which recently relocated to 156 Dale St. N. in St. Paul.

“I mean, we’re going to make sure that it’s as accessible for as many people as possible,” he said.

Grow the Future of Public Media

MPR News is supported by Members. Gifts from individuals power everything you find here. Make a gift of any amount today to become a Member!

The couple’s bakery has amassed a huge following since it first opened in 2019 on University Avenue in St. Paul’s Frogtown neighborhood. But even then, Gaosong Heu didn’t expect to see people lined up more than an hour before the 9 a.m. grand opening of their new location in the Summit-University neighborhood on May 20.

“The first people started waiting in line at 7:30 in the morning,” she said. “And the line went down the block. We sold out of everything by 12:30 p.m. and it was just so exciting.”

The business is centered around the culinary expertise of Marc Heu, a French-born Hmong pastry chef raised in French Guiana, South America.

Marc Heu fell in love with French pastries as a child, and is quick to point out that the quality of his products is on a different level then what was available to him when he grew up in a barn in the Amazon rainforest.

He imports chocolate from Europe and vanilla from Madagascar to use in his creations—flaky croissants, bronze-colored canelés filled with Italian stracciatella cream, and tarts topped with fresh fruit, among many other offerings. Marc and Gaosong Heu always make themselves available to answer questions or offer guidance to customers, who come from all walks of life.

“Don’t be afraid,” Marc Heu said. “Some people might see a photo online and might be like, ‘Oh my God, it’s too fancy for me.’ It’s not fancy; come in. We’re gonna take care of you just like anybody else.”

Gaosong Heu said they offer something for everybody. If you’re new to French pastries, she recommends a croissant or one of their menu staples.

“You don’t need the education to know how to eat, and you don’t have to be rich or anything to eat good food,” she said.

Some items, like their popular croissants, are always on the menu, but there’s also an ever-changing selection of items depending on the season or Marc Heu’s tastes. The shop sports a minimalist countertop showcasing the day’s options, and a chic and modern seating area in a white, black, and green color scheme.

Gaosong Heu said customers can keep updated on the shop’s menu at its website or social media accounts. The shop is open daily from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., but routinely sells out of pastries by 1 p.m. 

Marc Heu said he plans to continue focusing on quality versus quantity when making his pastries, and thanked the community for its continued support.

“You’ll make food, and you can see the food can just unite people,” he said. “Doesn’t matter your race, your religion—you know, your background—it’s just mind blowing.”