Cathy Goedert

Candy girl

d'Lëtzebuerger Land vom 26.09.2014

“You have to do things when you are still young,” says the slender young woman. And that is exactly what Cathy Goedert does. At the tender age of 26, she recently opened her own patisserie in the rue Chimay in Luxembourg City.

It was during her studies at the Ecole Hôtelière in Namur that she realised patisserie was her true calling. In Paris she found the school to her liking: Bellouet Conseil. Here she was taught the ins and outs of the craft: “Chocolate for one week, ice cream another, cakes, pastries,” Cathy says with glistening brown eyes, “working in Paris, the capital of patisserie, that’s just…wow.” Her first professional experience was as a pastry chef at Art Macaron, a small family-owned business in the 6th Arrondissement. “I always advise young people to start in a small company. That way you discover all the facets of the business.”

To some it might sound strange when Cathy speaks of her advice to “young people” when she mentions her peers. But then again, she has gained an impressive amount of experience in many different positions. Moving from Paris back to Luxembourg, she joined the national team at the Vatel Club to participate in national and international cooking competitions. Unfortunately, there was no immediate job opportunity after the experience. “So I started sending my résumé out to the world.” It was picked up by Shakespeare & Co, a big pâtisserie chain running 21 salons in the Middle East. “I was offered the sous-chef position, at the age of 21!” As interesting as the job was, she had a hard time getting used to life in Dubai. “I was shocked by the inequalities I saw around me,” she continues humbly. “Of course, the climate was great, but the social contrasts were just too big. I didn’t want to stay.”

Her timing couldn’t have been better as she was in back Paris when the new Mandarin Oriental started hiring. The sparkle in her eyes lights up again as she describes the experience: “I was part of this entirely new team that was put together from scratch. During three weeks we did nothing else but taste, test the future menu.’

After a year Cathy returned to Luxembourg. “I thought: Now I have worked in a family business and a palace; the only thing missing is a big company.” She signed up for a position at Oberweis, where she soon found out that the routine in a large-scaled company didn’t make her happy. “I want to do everything, from mousse, to chocolate, to meringue, to macaron. And so she started at Restaurant Windsor where she was given a lot of creative freedom and discovered how organised she actually was. Her self-assurance grew, and with it her determination to open her own business, with her own rules and ideas. “I had always wanted to do this, but now I felt certain I could see it through.”

As she talks, her father comes in. Ed Goedert, former owner of Autopolis and seasoned entrepreneur, walks past his daughter, beaming with pride, and gently pinching her ear. Cathy gives a chuckle, but soon recollects herself and continues: “We found this location by coincidence in September 2013. I wanted it to look warm and make customers feel at ease but at the same time it had to be a professional set-up.” She hired Integral architects, a Flemish bureau, which did an excellent job at integrating Cathy’s requirements into the design of the salon. Today, Cathy’s delicious creations are on display in crisp, white counters at the front of the shop. At the back, pink details in the pillows and the flowers on the tables give the room a playful and feminine touch.

During the whole planning process, she could count on her family’s support to get her business off the ground. Her parents help out in the shop every day. “I never thought I would see my mom serving customers but she does a great job.” Her sister is her associate in the business. “Working with family is never easy. But we discuss a lot, and we draw sound conclusions, which bring us closer together. I think we all feel part of the success we are experiencing right now. And the customers like coming into a family business. We already have regulars. That says a lot about how people perceive the quality of service and goods.’

Does she want to compete with established names such as Namur or Oberweis? “Absolutely not,” she says somewhat taken aback. “I do my own thing and I let others to theirs. My products are unique as I only work with seasonal produce. You won’t see any raspberries in our display come fall. I don’t think in terms of competition. And if it means the customer will get his ‘Framboisetärtchen’ elsewhere, so be it.”

Always restless, Cathy Goedert is already planning ahead although she’s barely settled into her shop at the Rue Chimay. “I have some nice ideas. Our neighbours are Charles Sandwiches and Downtown, two places run by young owners. Together we are thinking about how we can make the street livelier in the evenings. I recently started with the ‘afterwork’ on our heated terrace, an idea I got when I lived in Paris. I would see people sitting under blankets, enjoying a platter to share and a nice glass of wine. I have more ideas like that, I just need the right timing and marketing.”

On Cathy Goedert’s website, there is a heading saying “Shops” – in plural. Does she mean to open more branches? “There are still plenty of improvements to make here,” she says with a smile, “but we are an ambitious family, and I won’t deny we’ve discussed developing, be it in Luxembourg or abroad.”

Cathy Goedert, 8, rue Chimay L-1333 Luxembourg, opening hours: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Tuesday to Saturday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays.
Margot Pels
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