One of the city's most esteemed bakers has sold his patisserie to another impressive member of Seattle's pastry guard.
Neil Robertson sent word this morning that he will soon place Crumble and Flake in the capable hands of Toby Matasar, who built a following at West Seattle's former Eats Market Cafe, then went on to open the marvelous (and entirely sans gluten) Niche on 12th Avenue across the street from Seattle University. When Crumble and Flake opened in 2012, people literally brought folding chairs to camp out on the sidewalk before doors opened, to make sure they scored the impeccable kouign amann, upscale faux Oreos, and cheddar-paprika croissants before they sold out. These days folding chairs aren't necessary, but the quality is ever the same.
The changing of the guard happens July 2. In his email (and on Facebook), Robertson noted that he'd be around for a few more weeks after that to help with the transition. The former Canlis pastry chef who previously spent two decades as a graphic designer says he's ready for a break. As he puts it, "after hundreds of 12+ hour days, 32,144 cream puffs, 41,289 croissants, 50,746 smoked paprika croissants, 57,590 kouign amann, 63,850 macarons and thousands of other pastries, I am quite frankly burned out."
What great timing: Robertson was looking to sell his house of beautiful croissants and macarons, and Matasar was looking for another bakery, and a chance to get back to her origins in French pastry. She worked in New York—even trained in Paris—and did nothing but French pastry until she came to Seattle in 1999 and took a job overseeing all the things sweet for Tom Douglas Restaurants.
"Crumble and Flake will stay exactly the same," Matasar says emphatically..."for a while." Once she gets her bearings, the baker will put her own stamp on what Robertson created. "But it won't be changes, so much as additions," she says. "What Neil does is fantastic."