Inspired by a Parisian-American home filled with love and cake, a New York City couple opened a bakery and marketed it on social media.
Gautier and Ashley Coiffard, owners of L’Appartement 4F, soon prospered with a hit menu item — but the French didn’t eat it up as much as others.
In 2021, the bakery rose to fame on TikTok after Ashley shared Gautier’s unique creation: a grain croissant.
Now, influencers and celebrities like Paul Rudd frequent the traditional Brooklyn Heights venue for enticing French classics with an American twist.
But their social media presence was not well received by everyone in France.
After L’Appartement 4F was featured on a French TV show, the bakers were harshly criticized for accusing them of “destroying French cuisine”.
“That made me laugh,” Gautier admitted in an exclusive interview with The US Sun.
Ashley and Gautier met in 2016 at a bar on the Upper East Side: a true love story in New York.
Gautier is a software engineer and Ashley is a school nurse. He is French, and she is American.
It wasn’t until the two got married and settled in Greenpoint that their love affair became the perfect recipe for their dream careers.
Gautier was born and raised in the French Alps, but neither he nor his family had any real baking experience.
However, the 35-year-old found he could make everything from soft fluffy croissants to freshly baked sourdough bread.
He admits: “I miss French bread. So I really wanted to try making my own. I tried a few recipes, tweaked it a bit, and Ashley loved it.”
Ashley, the ambitious idea creator, spurred her husband to start selling her sweet and savory treats.
Ashley said: “When he started baking, I was really proud of him. I’m his taste tester and I think he should start selling because I think other people will really like what he’s doing.”
But Gautier hesitated to turn an activity he loved into a round-the-clock job, which meant waking up early and rushing to order.
“It took a lot of convincing. I would say it’s been about three or four months just since I proposed to us, like actually creating a menu and letting someone else buy it. I finally convinced him.”
So L’Appartement 4F was created, and at first it was based on apartment 4F – their home.
Both were elated at the number of orders they received.
Ashley has documented their success by running all social media accounts and handling clients.
Gautier is creating, baking 1,500 cookies and coming up with new recipes.
But their routine still worked, and the constant buzz meant they had to turn their residence into a fully-equipped bakery with a “freezer” bedroom.
Finally, in 2022, Coiffards moved the business out and opened a legal bakery.
“It’s really funny, because I can say, as an American, I mean yes to a lot of things. And I’m like a pleaser,” Ashley said.
“So when we got the order, I said yes and I was very excited. Then I would go to Gautier with all these orders and he would be a bit overwhelmed.”
While the 33-year-old feels pressured to work too hard, her husband is comfortable saying “no” and enjoying life outside of business.
He pushed the start time late and close early.
Ashley admits: “I feel like an American, you know, working 24/7 without really having lunch, just trying to enjoy, doing as much as I can.”
“And he slowed me down and was like: ‘Enjoy the process.'” She noted that this mindset “is very French of his.”
Now, the super successful and the relaxed balance each other enough to create the ideal work-life balance.
After launching her initial business, Ashley watched a video on TikTok of someone making mini cereal pancakes.
Creative thinkers love the concept but Gautier thought it would be a good idea to try it with small croissants.
Gautier added: “Didn’t really realize how much that work meant to me.
Their famous cereal show started out as an award at a fundraiser they held to raise money for their new brick-and-mortar store and then became much more popular than they were. ever thought.
People sent out grain orders before Gautier had enough to go everywhere.
Even customers in Strausberg, Germany heard about the mini pastry demonstration by the couple in the US.
Ashley said: “It has become completely viral.
But not all French like the idea, and Gautier’s American inclination towards classic French gourmet delights has been criticized on TV.
Gautier admits: “The title was ‘Destroying French Cuisine’. Something like that.
“And a lot of people said, ‘Oh, that’s disgusting.’ The French people have complained about that.”
“However, that just makes me laugh. At the end of the day, we have a lot of French people coming into the shop.”
He notes that hearing complaints from people back home “doesn’t really make any sense.”
Local customers and loved ones around the globe have understood, appreciated and experienced the love embodied in each dish of L’Appartement 4F.
And their Brooklyn bakery is testament to the home-based experience they get from running their business from their apartment.
L’Appartement 4F reviews
Gautier and Ashley were kind enough to send me some sweets to taste: a ham and cheese croissant, cereal, a loaf of bread, and two bottles of wine.
I could tell there was love in the air and the kitchen as I took a bite of a ham and cheese croissant – the best I’ve ever had, and I just got back from Paris.
But I’m most curious about their viral star, the croissant cereal – which I didn’t expect.
The smell of cinnamon wafted on my tongue as I chewed and swallowed the small pastries with some almond milk.
I thought the croissant would be soft and soggy. But not soggy. Every little cake is crispy and crunchy.
Ashley said: “We started the bakery because we love to welcome and invite friends into our small space and cook, feed and offer them good wine.
“If I think bread is made by people who are like, angry, upset or worried, then I feel it’s going to happen. So there’s a lot of laughter in our bakery.”
For Ashley and Gautier, running the bakery together is no different from ordinary married life.
They may have some friction here and there, but their business relationship is as good as their personal relationship.
For Mother’s Day, L’Appartement 4F teamed up with Louis Jadot Wine, America’s number one French wine seller, to create tips that elevate a classic holiday brunch — Parisian style.
The combination of the two companies is beautifully combined like a delicious red and some cheese.
“It’s the tie-in of an American-French love story,” says Ashley.