The Inspiration Diaries: An Interview with Macaron Parlour’s Simon Tung

Ideas are more than what you create. It’s a connection to something that inspires you… how you separate yourself from the crowd. This isn’t just a series of interviews with artists, musicians, influencers and taste makers. With “The Inspiration Diaries,” I am trying to capture the drive and passion of these people, find out what inspires them, and in turn, why they inspire us.

Left to right: Christina Tung, Alissa Rothstein (me) and Simon Tung after a macaron baking class.

Left to right: Christina Tung, Alissa Rothstein (me) and Simon Tung after a macaron baking class.

After showcasing their skills at local artisanal fairs for two years, Christina Ha and Simon Tung launched their flagship store in New York City’s East Village in October 2012.  Macaron Parlour is a fun neighborhood bakery / café with whimsical sweets that will transport their consumers to the days of their childhood, be a place for the young to enjoy, and a go-to spot for those with an adventurous sweet tooth.

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Macaron Parlour was founded in 2010 by Christina Ha and Simon Tung. The dynamic duo independently fantasized about opening a bakery and upon meeting, Macaron Parlour was born. Christina has a love for bite sized petit fours and studied macarons at La Haute Pâtisserie Pierre Hermé in Paris. Simon always had a soft spot for sweets and loves being in the kitchen.  He perfected his macaron technique under M.O.F. Stephane Glacier.  After meeting at a friend’s Halloween party in 2009, Christina and Simon began selling macarons at the Hester Street Fair and quickly branched out to other food and holiday fairs. As demand grew, they realized a store was the natural next step. Christina and Simon’s love of macarons isn’t the only kind they share; the couple married in April 2012.

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Macaron Parlour offers an array of macarons that expand beyond traditional flavors. While paying homage to typical buttercream and ganache fillings, they also provide unconventional and savory options such as s’mores, red velvet, tiramisu, and candied bacon with maple cream cheese. Additionally, they were the first to make select macarons with brown sugar, which they believe enhances flavor and complements the filling.

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The patisserie also serves a variety of baked goods (chocolate chip cookies, raspberry croissants, blondies, kouign amanns) along with Blue Bottle coffee, Harney & Sons tea, and raspberry lemonade.

Who or what inspires you?
There isn’t any particular thing that I find inspiring, but I sort of see it everywhere.  It could be a commercial on TV, a picture I see in a book, the curve of something I see outside.  Sometimes I see something and I just think, that’s it!

What’s your favorite food or dessert?
Ice cream.  I’m always in the mood for ice cream!

What do you love about your work?
The conversation.  We have a great staff so there’s a lot of chatting going on all day and on the occasion, we have really engaging conversations with our customers.

What do you dislike about your work?
Very little.  I don’t like what it does to you physically to be standing in the same place for hours on end or to be doing the same repetitive motions day after day.  It’s hard on your body so it’s important to exercise as well to be able to keep up in the game.

What chef do you most identify with?
As you get further into your career in the industry, it’s hard to say you identify with any particular person anymore because the industry is so small and these people you once admired become your friends.  If you leave a bunch of chefs in a room together, it takes less than a minute to find a topic that you can blab for hours about.  In the end, we all have things in common and things to learn from each other.

Who are three people that you’d like to be compared to. Why?
Probably my parents.  I know that’s only 2 people, but they’re such interesting people.  They’re the nicest people and they work so hard for their kids.  I can’t imagine running a business while raising four kids.  They’re also so quirky and have such a special sense of humor.  I just admire a lot of things about them.

What is your dream project?
I want to learn how to do more things with my hands.  Right now, I’m actually pretty careful with my hands because they’re so crucial to what they do, but I can sew and I am totally convinced that I can also build things.  I’d like to learn how to do this.

What superpower would you have and why?
It’s not really a superpower, but I’m envious of people who only require 4 hours of sleep a night.  They just don’t need a lot of sleep so they have 20 hours to just get things done!

Name something you love, and why.
Our cats.  We never thought we would be cat people, but finding a stray cat has changed so much for us.  The cats changed the dynamic of our relationship with work so we went from an uneven work/life balance to one where we try to spend time at home as well. 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
It’s ok to be slow as long you learn.  Once you’ve mastered something, you can speed up.  The girl who trained me at my first restaurant job told me this and it’s something I tell everyone in my kitchen.  I want people to take the time to learn how to do things well before they give in the pressure to do things quickly.

Exciting News! Their new store is opening at 560 Columbus Ave., New York City in a week! Check out their website for store info and offerings. If you are not in the NYC area, you can order their macarons from their Etsy store. You can also like them on Facebook for updates.

Follow me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Be.Inspired.Lifestyle
Follow me on Twitter: @alissarothstein
Follow me on Instagram: beinspiredblog

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