The Carmel By The Sea Bakery
As posted in Essential Travel
The bakery in Carmel is famous for its pastries and brownies – which never disappoint. The ET Magazine staff went in with the intention of trying one brownie and rolled out of there after a breakfast burrito, a Chealsea-bun typed pastry and a giant chocolate chip cookie… and two brownies (which were supposed to be for the road).
We caught up with Chef Pèpe, owner and head honcho, to find out more about the bakery, the town of Carmel and his favourite dishes…
Essential Travel: Pèpe, when did you start Little Napoli and buy the Carmel Bakery – and what is it that makes it such a special place to visit?
Chef Pèpe: I bought Carmel Bakery in 1985. It is the oldest running business in Carmel, having started in 1906. I started Little Napoli in 1990, when my second son was born. It is hard to find family run businesses here in America, and I am completely hands-on everyday of the year. Both my sons and wife work in the business now also. I treat my staff as family members, and our guests often compliment us on our service standards.
Essential Travel: Where do you source most of your recipes for the bakery and your other restaurants?
Chef Pèpe: I grew up working at my uncle’s bakery in Hoboken, New Jersey, and my work ethic and knowledge of baking and family recipes stem from that experience. I travel to visit my relatives in Italy often and always come back with new ideas, recipes and cooking techniques.
Essential Travel: What are your major influences as a chef?
Chef Pèpe: I grew up in a very large extended Italian-American family. Both my grandmothers lived within walking distance, and I was always at their homes watching them perform magic with simple ingredients. And of course my mom was a wonderful cook and made me and my siblings help in the kitchen all the time.
Essential Travel: What is it like living and working in a place like Carmel?
Chef Pèpe: It is a joy to be live in this small village community. We are always within eyeshot of the sea, while being backed by the forest and mountains. This area is strikingly beautiful, intellectually stimulating, populated with health-minded people, and the visitors to this area bring a sense of internationalism.
Essential Travel: If you could recommend one dish from the bakery and Little Napoli to visitors, what would it be?
LITTLE NAPOLI: Cannelloni Tricolore – my signature dish was created for the arrival of Luciano Pavarotti here on the Monterey Peninsula in 1991. The grilled chicken, veggie and ricotta filled cannelloni is topped with three sauces: Marinara (red), Alfredo (white) and Pesto (green) – a tribute to the colors of the Italian flag.
BAKERY: Scottish shortbread – Carmel has a very large Scottish heritage, and this recipe has been used at Carmel Bakery for over 100 years. My wife’s family is Scottish, and I am proud to keep up these traditions at the bakery.