Frederic Vaucamps

Early in his career, Frédéric fell under the spell of Merveilleux cakes and has been paying tribute to this unique delicacy ever since. Frédéric was born in 1963, and lives with his family in the north of France. Enchanted by the world of cake making from the earliest age, Frédéric began an apprenticeship as a pastry chef at the age of 14. A determined character, Frédéric likes to point out that his know-how has been forged through his experiences of luck, failure, experiments and successes. Fortunately, pastry making has turned out to be the source of his personal and professional fulfilment. It began, in 1982, with a failure. Frédéric took over a shop with his brother where they worked with passion but found they had under-estimated the entrepreneurial constraints of the trade. Fired on by this setback, Frédéric nevertheless continued his activity, looking to combine pleasure, creativity and high standards. In 1985 he rethought the recipe for the Merveilleux cakes, making them lighter and in a number of different flavours. Success – this traditional pastry delicacy became a popular product! He also reworked brioche bread, making it available in a range of flavours. It proved another masterstroke with and these Cramiques selling – like hot cakes!

The Merveilleuses & the Incroyables

Under the Directory regime (1796 – 1799) high society life picked up again. Famous women such as Madame Tallien and Madame Récamier opened salons which served as the meeting point for the nouvelle élégance: the Merveilleuses and the Incroyables. The Incroyables were young people with effeminate manners whose sole concern was the pursuit of pleasure. Meanwhile, the Merveilleuses had a total disregard for modesty and dressed in Antique-style clothes: loose tunics which were sometimes worn damp in order to be more figure-hugging. Concert halls, tearooms and theatres all attracted the same succession of see-through dresses and béguin hats. Patrons would dance the rigaudon and purchase ice creams at the Garchy and Velloni parlours. The Hannover pavilion was all the rage: in this part of Richelieu’s former mansion, perfumed goddesses coiffed with roses, in their Athenian robes, would glance furtively at the Incroyables, waving their fans, coming, going, laughing, teasing, all high and mighty and with a cheeky look in their eye. Frédéric Vaucamps identified himself to such a degree in the fantasy of the Incroyables and the Merveilleuses that the brand name soon took hold, in its masculine form.

The story
of the company

Frédéric Vaucamps opened his first traditional pâtisserie in Hazebrouck in 1982, where he produced different recipes such as meringues and brioche. Fifteen years later, he inaugurated his first store in Lille, ‘Aux Merveilleux de Fred’ in the Rue de la Monnaie in the historic centre of the city. Here he perfected his own Merveilleux recipe which would soon make the renown of the establishment: meringue coated in chocolate whipped cream covered with shavings of dark chocolate. His secret? An inimitable melt-in-the-mouth meringue which gives a lightness and finesse to this cake.

The enthusiasm was immediate. Customers were soon queuing at the door to sample the individual Merveilleux cakes or the larger models to share with family or friends. Alongside the Merveilleux were other pastries including the famous ‘Cramique’, available with raisins, sugar or chocolate. This daily homage to the Belgian love of sweets enabled everyone to find something to their taste. In 2004, once again in Lille he created a second shop with his cousin, this time in the Gambetta district, famous for its friendly Wazemmes market. The next stop was the city’s Grand-Place, where he set up a unit with the Méo coffee company. Frédéric’s fourth outlet was in Belgium, in the town of Knokke. Aux Merveilleux de Fred opened an outlet in Paris in 2008 to the delight of Parisians. Since this date, four other shops have opened, and others are in the process of opening, both in France and abroad.

The story behind the cakes

The Merveilleux is a confectionary whose lightness is only equalled by that of the Précieux and the Extravagants under the Directory regime at the end of the 18th century. Meringues coated in whipped cream, they are a traditional recipe of the north of France and Flanders. Often decried, sometimes forgotten, overlooked from time to time, Frédéric Vaucamps succeeded in bringing back their former glory by enhancing the recipe from 1985. The Kramiek (in Flemish) is a small brioche loaf stuffed with raisins. It first appeared around 1830 in Wallonia and Flanders. This traditional pastry is still very much appreciated, especially in Belgium and in the north of France. Across the region it has several different names: brioche, pain brioche, gateau tartine and craquelin. Frédéric Vaucamps has had fun with this product by inventing different flavours, giving it a touch of fantasy.

The hallmark of the company

A visual and olfactory experience, the Merveilleux are made in front of the customer in each of the stores.

The quality of the product is the key to the success of the brand’s pastries. Care is taken in the research of each ingredient for the creations. A faithful partner, Frédéric Vaucamps always works with the same suppliers.

Above all a craftsman, Frédéric likes to work with products that give him the opportunity to adapt them in different flavours, substances and colours.