Bon Appetit

by | Jul 1, 2019 | Alumni Profiles, Food, Spring/Summer 2019

As a child, Esther Son ’00, would order dessert for dinner when her family ate out. “I would get in trouble,” she said, “but that’s all I wanted.” Son’s Sacramento-based French bakery, Estelle Bakery & Pâtisserie, is enjoying a revival of sorts. Last year, she opened her two locations, which employ 45 people, including trained pastry chefs who bake gem-like confections, crusty baguettes and buttery croissants. Son, who is primarily self-taught, provides ideas, direction and feedback. An international relations major at UC Davis, she had planned for a corporate business career. Son and her husband, a doctor, bought a medical business. She managed the operations and later worked in his medical practice, but it didn’t fulfill her. She envisioned opening a side-project bakery much later, when her children were grown. In 2008, she found her opportunity. When cupcakes were sweeping Sacramento, Son enjoyed inventing new ones like Earl Grey cakes frosted with lavender buttercream in her home kitchen. In 2009, she opened Esther’s Cupcakes, with a second outpost in Roseville. Estelle first opened in 2011. By 2016, all were closed, but Son continued to seek out new prospects. Estelle’s newfound growth has taken Son by surprise. “I thought it was going to be small, be quaint, dainty, a corner bakery,” she said. “I never knew it would become the business the size that it has, or that it would be my entire career.”