At the indoor Los Angeles’ Original Farmers Market, pastry-lovers will delight in finding a small booth that hosts Michelina, a branch of the wholesale company Le Macaron. Frenchman Vincent Benoliel, who founded Le Macaron in Miami 18 years ago, always greets customers with a smile.
“The vacant stall at the farmers market was a huge opportunity,” the Parisian explains. “The foot traffic is incredible. Eighteen million people are guaranteed to come through each year.” Benoliel believes that Michelina showcases his larger company. “A lot of Los Angeles chefs come to shop here.”
The small Michelina stall offers the typical pastries and breads, and also sells sandwiches, bread bowls, and savory tarts. “My main product will always be the baguette, which is made with 15-year-old sourdough,” the Frenchman boasts. Michelina produces anywhere from 200 to 300 baguettes each day. Benoliel buys all of his ingredients locally, either from neighboring stalls at the Farmers Market or from Monsieur Marcel’s Gourmet Market.
Although working the stall at the Los Angeles’ Farmers Market takes a considerable about of time, it doesn’t prevent Benoliel from running Le Macaron, his wholesale business. The establishment has grown to include kitchens in both Los Angeles and Miami, and it supplies major airlines, hotels, and Whole Foods California with breads, cakes, and croutons.
Barely 18-years-old, Benoliel left Paris and his family’s real estate business to launch his baking company in Florida. “I’ve always loved food,” he says. The Frenchman was a big fan of macarons, so he decided to export the French pastry to the United States on an industrial scale. “I worked like a dog when I first came to Florida, sometimes up to 18 hours a day,” he recalls. Since its early days of only producing macarons, Le Macaron has since diversified and prospered, transforming into a full-blown bakery.
Michelina could soon be thrust in the spotlight, as well, with a boost of free publicity. A television series is expected to film near Benoliel’s stall at the farmers market next January.