"Why don't you come to Houston to build the best bakery in America?"
That's the pitch pastry chef Roy Shvartzapel tells CultureMap he has made to the chefs he has recruited for his cafe, Common Bond, set to open this fall in Montrose at the corner of Westheimer and Dunlavy.
After working around the world for the likes of Ferran Adria at elBulli and Thomas Keller at Bouchon Beverley Hills, the Israeli-born, Houston-raised Shvartzapel is ready to come home and "re-imagine the way people look at the the cafe/bakery experience in the United States."
"I would have been excited to get one or two of them. To get all of them to move here and be excited about this concept and vision is very humbling."
It's no idle boast.
He's recruited talented former colleagues to join him in Houston with the chops to realize Common Bond's goals. They include executive pastry sous chef Jillian Bartolome (Bouchon Bakery at Rockefeller Center, Cyrus), chef de cuisine David Morgan (August Restaurant, Cyrus), head bread baker Drew Gimma (Bouchon, Per Se), assistant bread baker Tony Stein (Bouchon Beverly Hills) and assistant bread baker Alec Bartee (Cyrus).
Although he hasn't recruited a chef to run the savory side, he thinks he'll have someone soon.
"The universe decided to align itself in my favor," Shvartzapel says about the staff. "I would have been excited to get one or two of them. To get all of them to move here and be excited about this concept and vision is very humbling."
As for how this group sees their new city, he says that "All of them have been to Houston. They're overwhelmed by how welcoming and nice everyone is, especially those (people) who are coming from New York. They're overwhelmed by Southern hospitality."
Shvartzapel gives full credit to his partners Kathy and Brad Sanders for helping him to assemble such an All-Star team. "I can't quantify what it means to be a business partner with someone who has blind faith in our abilities," he says.
Although he says the bakery "will not open before we're ready," Shvartzapel hopes to welcome customers in November to demonstrate Common Bond's ideas about Thanksgiving pies to Houstonians.
Asked about Dominique Ansel's cronuts, Shvartzapel demurs, but says he's been told his Kouign Amann, another pastry Ansel's known for, can hold their own. One promise he will make: "We're going to make the best croissants you've ever had."