A young Frenchman brings his passion for crêpes to El Centro; Check out Fleurette on Luis Cordero
By Stephen Vargha
The historic part of Cuenca is now more than French architecture.
There are now French crêpes in El Centro.
And a young Frenchman making them: Quentin Levy.
Levy, 29, opened his crêperie-coffee shop, Fleurette, three months ago on Calle Luis Cordero, just a few doors down from Kolo Restaurant and Bakery.
“Life,” said Levy. “I learned to make crêpes for all of my life! I made it for my friends all of the time.”
He bought a professional crêpe maker in Guayaquil. These appliances often have more precise temperature control, which allows for more consistent and evenly cooked crêpes.
“What is great about the crêpe maker is the size of the crêpes,” said Levy. “It can make large ones. And then there is the heat!”
Crêpes need to be cooked at 400°F (200°C) to have the batter to start cooking immediately. The hot griddle grabs the batter as it swirled upon the very hot surface.
Texture is very important for making a high-quality crêpe. It is basically a do-or-die for a tasty crêpe. Having the proper texture comes from the hot surface instantly turning some of the water in the crêpe to steam.
The eggy batter Levy makes holds onto the little steam pockets. The crêpe solidifies in place, giving it an important lighter, more tender texture.
Crêpe is a French word that comes from the Old French word, “crespe.” It means curled or frizzly. It is an appropriate name because of a crêpe’s wrinkly appearance and that their edges can be somewhat curly.
Crêpes originated in the 13th century in Brittany (France’s northwesternmost region). They were very popular because crêpes were cheap to make and did not use many raw ingredients. Poor families could use leftover buckwheat porridge to make buckwheat crêpes and minimize food waste.
This simple, but delicious food, became a favorite of the Parisian bourgeoisie and was often served as a dessert in fancy restaurants. In the 20th century, the crêpe became a staple of street food in Paris.
In “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” Julia Child introduced Americans to “French Pancakes.” In her two-volume cookbook published in 1961, she told how to make crêpes as well as using the traditional French iron pans.
The young Frenchman did not set out to make crêpes. Growing up in Asnières-sur-Seine (just outside of Paris in the Île-de-France region of France), he went to École Intuit Lab, a design and visual communication school.
“I didn’t like school growing up. It is all about memory,” said Levy. “I wanted to do things with my hands, so I went to design school.”
He graduated in 2019 with a master’s degree in design and visual communications.
“What was great about the school was that there was one week of classes and three weeks for me to work,” said Levy. “I decided in 2018 to go to South America with my money.”
Levy went to Ecuador and Colombia. Guayaquil was his first stop because he was an exchange student there two years prior.
After graduation he returned to Ecuador’s largest city. “I had some friends who had some contacts,” said Levy. “In April 2019, I became the Art Director for Maruri Grey, an advertising agency.”
For 30 months, Levy was involved in making designs for one of the world’s top advertising and marketing agencies. Most of his clients were Ecuadorian. Some of his bigger clients were Banco Pacifico and Golden Bear Oil Company.
He worked for his friend’s small advertising agency for a few months last year before the young Frenchman decided it was time for a career change.
“I said to myself that I do not want to work for anyone else, so I started researching Cuenca,” said Levy. “I found Cuenca to be a quiet and peaceful city. People are more educated, and it is a safer city. So, I moved here in May.”
It took little time to find a home for his crêperie-coffee shop.
“I discovered my location by walking the streets of Cuenca,” said Levy. “El Centro is the best area as there are lots of tourists in the area.”
He chose a heritage house that needed a lot of work downstairs.
“I was thinking it needed a lot of work, but it had great potential,” said Levy. “I used a Google app to help me visualize what I wanted.”
Using his designing background, Levy submitted his ideas for approval from the Catalonian owners, who live upstairs.
“They liked what they saw as they are more traditional,” said Levy. “Because of my renovations, they gave me a discount on the monthly rent.”
Fleurette opened for business on July 7. It joined its neighbors, an art gallery and a hat making shop. Eventually, a restaurant will be added to the heritage house.
The menu is simple with delicious offerings. There are only four Crêpes Dulces. They are sweet offerings: Crème Brûlée, Petit Citron (lemon custard filling), Pommes Cannelle (apple and cinnamon with some cookie pieces), and Nuage Fraises (strawberries).
When asked which was the most popular of the four, Levy quickly replied, “Limón.”
“For me, it is a normal cake. But people really like it,” said Levy. “Ecuadorians do not cook anything like it, so they really enjoy the lemon cakes.”
The lemon cakes are eight layers of crêpes with homemade lemon curd in between.
Levy is partial to Nuage Fraises. The strawberry cake is a lot like what his family used to make all the time in France.
If you want something heartier, Levy offers four Crêpes Saladas: Pollo y Miel (chicken with honey, egg, cheese, lettuce, tomato, and avocado), Veggie (egg, cream cheese, avocado, cheese, tomato, and lettuce), Napolitana (tomato sauce, ham, and cheese), and the Breakfast Crêpe (egg omelet, cheese, tomato, and lettuce). For 75 cents more, you can have chicken or ham added to it.
“We both enjoyed the Pollo y Miel salad crêpe,” said Marshall Devall.
The American expat and his wife, Nadine, posted on Facebook their thoughts about the crêpe: “Absolutely delicious and perfect for lunch!”
Ambiance and experience are an integral part of Fleurette.
“I let people stay here for a long time,” said Levy. “I have Wi-Fi if my customers want to use it.”
On top of that, people will feel comfortable with Levy as he speaks three languages. “I am fluent in French and Spanish, and my English is pretty good,” he said.
Devall may have said it best for those who have visited crêperie-coffee shop: “We will definitely return to Fleurette, most definitely for dessert. Bon appétit!”
Fleurette, Calle Luis Cordero 5-27 y Honorato Vásquez, Cuenca, Facebook, Hours: Monday through Wednesday, 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., Thursday and Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Photos by Stephen Vargha
Stephen Vargha’s book about Cuenca, “Una Nueva Vida – A New Life” is available at Amazon in digital and paperback formats. His blog, “Becoming Cuenca,” supplements his book with the latest information and photos by him.