Niel Koep

Jo McGarry photo

Chef/Baker/Owner Fendu Boulangerie

Where were you born and raised? New Jersey, mostly. I’ve been in Hawaii since 1990.

Did your mom spark your interest in baking? Not really. But I do remember when my mom would buy magazines and I always liked to look at the food pictures and the recipes. During high school, I worked in a few restaurants, and then I worked in a little French restaurant called Fromagerie in New Jersey, which is really quite a famous restaurant. I didn’t really plan this as a career until I decided there was nothing else that interested me as much.

In Hawaii there’s baking, and then there’s your baking. (Laughs) Thank you.

What lovely things are you baking for Mother’s Day? Macaroons are always a treat. We’ll be making French almond macaroons, which are very moist, and then we fill them with chocolate ganache that stands up well to the macaroon/almond cookie. And we’re making Italian bread that’s like panettone, but with a moist crust and no fruit. We’ll be making them in heart shapes, because everybody loves their mom.

Should we call to special order? We usually stock the shelves until we run out – but we do run out quickly, so people are welcome to call and order.

What would you bake for your mom this Mother’s Day if she were here?

Ironically, my mom has an egg allergy, so there are very few things I make that she can eat. Sorbets are one of the few things I can make for her.

Where do you like to eat when you’re not baking? Furusato Sushi in Waikiki – the prices are reasonable, and the quality of the sushi is just beautiful. So, whenever we are in Waikiki, we head there.

How about cooking at home? Or are you just done once you close the bakery doors? (Laughs) Yes, I’m done! But I do love to cook simple food at home, so usually I’ll make something like pasta, and then maybe I’ll saut√© some broccoli or cauliflower to serve with it.

Your meals-to-go of Eggplant Lasagna and Chicken Pot Pies are a huge success. Can we look for more meals-to-go from you soon? Yes. In addition to the lasagna and the pot pies, we’re working on a gourmet macaroni and cheese, along with some salads made with local greens. And homemade soups with our house-made breads and sandwiches seems like a natural …

If there were just one thing you could say to aspiring bakers out there, what would it be? Bake it until it’s done. Don’t just put something in the oven at 350 degrees and take it out 40 minutes later. Every oven and every person is different. Pay attention to see if something is cooked properly, not to what it says in the recipe book.

Fendu Boulangerie, Manoa Marketplace, 2752 Woodlawn Drive, 988-4310